UNICEF: the card that launched UNICEF’s fundraising

Exhibited by
Julie Weston.
May 22, 2008
Medium of Communication
Direct mail
Target Audience
Single gift
Type of Charity
Children, youth and family, international relief/development, poverty/social justice
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance

SOFII’s view

This is a true fundraising icon. UNICEF's very first ever Christmas card, the design that launched a thousand designs. This card dates back to 1946 and the story behind its origins is quite charming. I bet the people who were so thrilled by young Jitka's drawing 60 years ago had no idea that it would lead to the multi-million dollar international business that is UNICEF's cards today. Nor that it would be the starting point for one of the world's great international fundraisers.

Creator / originator

Jitka Samková from a village near C'eské Bude'jovice in Czechoslovakia

Summary / objectives

UNICEF (originally the United Nations International Emergency Fund) was established by the UN in 1946 to provide post war relief services for children in Europe. One of the children UNICEF helped in a village in Czechoslovakia, created a thank-you card and her teacher sent it to UNICEF's New York office. It was turned into a greeting card and sold 500 copies in the first year.

The gesture of an 8-year-old girl over 60 years ago started one of the world's fundraising success stories. UNICEF now raises more than US$700 million a year through its global fundraising and sales activities and it all started with a card.


UNICEF has sold billions of cards in the past 60 years and raises about US$55-60 million a year from its card and product sales to help children in 191 countries.


The simple gesture of a thank-you card takes the credit for launching fundraising in UNICEF over 60 years ago. First came sales – because of the card – and this evolved into a fundraising programme that today includes national committees in 38 developed countries as well as fundraising through UNICEF's offices in 30 developing countries raising more than US$ 700 million a year.