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Igniting Change Podcast Season 2: Episode 8

In Episode 8 of our 'Igniting Change' podcast, we are joined by Anne-Marie Grey. Anne-Marie is the CEO and executive director of USA for UNHCR, and brings a wealth of knowledge to the agency, with the aim to better the lives of millions of refugees...


S2 blogpost episode 8

This week on our podcast, Rich and Puff sat down with Anne-Marie, CEO and Executive director of USA for UNHCR, who brings a wealth of knowledge to the agency, with the aim to better the lives of millions of refugees. With a career spanning many large roles in international charities and organizations, Anne-Marie is very qualified to talk on the subjects of fundraising, data and of course tech for good.

The Intersection of Tech and Culture

Anne-Marie grew up with a diplomat for a father, living across various countries and cultures, so had a great understanding of the world. With this, there was also first hand experience of racism, poverty, conflict and the effects of climate change. After this upbringing, Anne-Marie knew that she wanted to do something that had real purpose in her life. Starting out by studying anthropology and art-history, Anne-Marie began working at the Australian National Gallery whilst studying. Soon after starting, she transitioned into a fundraising role within the gallery, working closely with the government on their fundraising and due-diligence criteria. Whilst working at the Australian National Gallery, Anne-Marie learnt a wide range of skills that would be crucial for her work within the charity sector. Getting exposure to early digital rights and ownership models for the National Archives of Australia allowed Anne-Marie to work at the intersection of culture and technology.

After moving to the United States with her family, she began working for Share our Strength, an anti-hunger organization, which began her pivot into the humanitarian side of her career…

Anne-Marie and UNHCR

Anne-Marie was recruited from Share our Strength by UNHCR as an executive to help build out the marketing and fundraising team and the overall direction. From there, she began working with the head director of Unicef to help change the approach to corporate partnerships and foundations. After a successful stint at Save the Children, she was offered the opportunity to lead the USA for UNHCR as CEO. 

Anne-Marie spoke of her diverse background and her non-linear career path as a strength “if you asked me in high school what I wanted to be when I grew up… honestly, I’m still trying to figure that out but I think opportunities just come at you.”


Challenges in Fundraising

One of Anne-Marie’s major skills is around fundraising, something that she has had plenty of exposure to across all of her roles. Fundraising for charitable causes can be a minefield of ethical issues, decision making and hierarchical pressure. But it doesn’t always have to be this way. Anne-Marie told us of the difficulties in working with certain companies and the reluctance that she has faced when working in fundraising for embracing some corporate donations. Anne-Marie’s view on working with these corporations is that often it’s best to allow these corporations to take part in fundraising to better themselves, rather than refusing to work with them based on a strict set of criteria, as this limits creative opportunities for fundraising and exposure.

“You don’t know you are innovating, until have gone through it”

Anne-Marie Grey

Data Centric Thinking

Data has become a crucial part of looking at how to fundraise effectively and appeal to people in a more effective way. By using data, we can use what resonates with donors to create more impactful fundraising campaigns. For example, advertisements focused towards those with conservative Christian values, are more effective when highlighting how donations support unaccompanied minors who have crossed into the US find support. By being specific with the messaging and using data to get the right message to the right user, fundraisers can raise more and spend less on their campaigns.

Data is also hugely important to refugees, as taking refuge in a foreign country often means your personal data and records are stuck in your home country, with difficulty accessing crucial information surrounding finances and healthcare. By working with refugees, UNHCR has been able to implement more ways to safely send secure data and financial information.

Other Awesome Examples of Tech for Good

Anne-Marie shared an awesome example of tech for good that she has been using. Vodafone’s DreamLab is an app that harnesses the processing power of your mobile device whilst you sleep, to help process data for use in researching life-changing illnesses such as cancer. Just one PC running 24 hours a day would need 300 years to process the data required to complete the project. However, 100,000 smartphones running DreamLab for six hours a night could fast track the job in just three months.

By leaning on simple ways to engage the user, this allows users to do good with minor barriers to entry. Examples like this are key to generating engagement, especially within the for good field.

Listen now for the full discussion

To hear more of our conversation with Tea, listen now using the links below!

For more things tech for good, stay tuned to our blog or give us a holla to get in touch with us, we would love to hear from you 💚

Published on October 20, 2022, last updated on September 19, 2023

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