More than 26,000 new donors heard the call for help on the news program ABC World News Tonight and contributed more that $3.5 million to feed the people of Madagascar through the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) and World Food Program USA (WFP-USA).
The story was weeks in the making but the donations started immediately after the Nov. 18 broadcast segment where anchor David Muir traveled to Madagascar with a team from the WFP. It generated $1.2 million within a half-hour of broadcast.
Barron Segar, president of WFP-USA in Washington, D.C., said the organization had 74,000 donors prior to the broadcast and added more than 26,000 new donors. Gifts are still being made as people see the segment online at the ABC News website.
“In my career I’ve never heard of anything like this,” said Segar, who previously spent 19 years at UNICEF USA, most recently as executive vice president and chief development officer. “None of us expected David Muir’s report to generate so much generosity. There was an emotional connection with the audience.”
WFP-USA and the WFP operate as one team despite being separate organizations with WFP-USA being the 501(c)(3) fundraising arm responsible for all private sector fundraising for WFP within the United States.
WFP Head of Emergency Communications Jon Dumont managed the relationship with ABC News. He coordinated the news team’s visit to Madagascar, traveled with them to the field, facilitated the interviews with WFP field staff and experts, and helped determine the sites visited.
ABC News routinely includes a “how you can help” online story to accompany its broadcasts. Once the Madagascar story was in production, Dumont worked with ABC News to ensure that World Food Program USA was able to include a donation link as part of the complementary online piece, Segar said.
World Food Program USA developed the donation form and included language around the impact that donors can make at different price points. WFP is trying to raise $69 million between now and April 2022 to reach and feed 1 million people who need urgent food assistance.
Madagascar is facing its worst drought in nearly a half-century and while it’s probably short-term, Segar said there still is an enormous need. Some 43 million people are facing malnutrition. It costs approximately 50 cents to provide a meal but those costs have skyrocketed probably 30% since the coronavirus pandemic hit, according to Segar. Instead of being able to provide three meals a day, in some cases it is down to one meal.
It’s not the first time American donors have stepped up for WFP-USA. The organization’s fundraising was $61 million for Fiscal Year 2021, which ended Oct. 31, up from $19 million two years ago, said Segar. That $61 million is for programs worldwide and the need is outstripping resources, he said.
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