As the end-of-year charitable giving season begins, we speak with Task Force Chief External Relations Officer Lynn Heinisch and board member Jim Jackson, Chief Marketing Officer of Hewlett Packard Enterprise and chair of The Task Force’s development committee, about the impact of donations and what happens when people give to The Task Force.
Task Force Chief External Relations Officer Lynn Heinisch
Chief Marketing Officer of Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Task Force Board Member Jim Jackson
Lynn, what is the value of donors and charitable giving?
For a nonprofit like The Task Force, donors are the activists who fuel our work and help solve global health issues. In the nearly 40 years of The Task Force, public health has achieved great gains. These include a significant drop in deaths of children under five, partly due to increased access to vaccines; eliminating targeted tropical diseases in many countries and committing to control others by 2030; and greatly reducing disabilities from preventable diseases such as polio, with cases declining 99.9% since 1988. All of this is possible because of donors, whom we view as partners in our work to advance health equity and save and improve lives.
Jim, as a board member and chair of the development committee, you volunteer your time and share your expertise and financial resources to support The Task Force. Why?
Because I want to be part of making the world a healthier and better place for everyone. The Task Force plays an undeniably critical role in delivering against this mission, and has the scale and expertise to address global health challenges that many can’t. They have proven, demonstrated abilities to solve some of the world’s most complex and hard-to-address diseases through supply chains and a network of partnerships with a unique, global scale. I’ve also been amazed at the depth of expertise from The Task Force. This team includes some of the world’s best and smartest people in helping to control and stop debilitating and deadly diseases. This and the compassion with which they practice influences me deeply. Witnessing that humanity makes the world a profoundly better place. It’s a privilege to volunteer my time to this organization.
Lynn, how does The Task Force use the donations?
We work on a wide range of global health issues and that is part of the appeal to our donors. Some care about particular issues, like polio or neglected tropical diseases, some care about developing the health care workforce, some care about work in specific countries, some care about our expertise in areas like research, epidemiology, health informatics, or distribution of drugs and essential supplies, but one thing unites all our donors: they believe in improving health around the world and they value our track record of good financial stewardship. We take that responsibility seriously as we invest our donor’s contributions in areas where there is the greatest need.
One recent example is our investment in Ready2Respond, a private-public coalition that augments low- and middle-income countries’ readiness to respond to emerging respiratory viral pandemics. As the secretariat for Ready2Respond, The Task Force chose to invest money at a critical time when the group needed funding, similar to investing in a start-up. This positioned the coalition to receive significant subsequent funding from others, including the Wellcome Trust. Being able to invest this “flexible” money from our donors allows us to spur innovations and provide bridge funding that acts as a catalyst for initiatives at critical times. This is important as other funding sources, like foundation or government grants, do not have this flexibility but instead offer valuable large-scale investments. It’s critical to have this mix of complementary funding sources as each of them – foundations, government, corporate, and individual donors – plays a very important role.
Jim, your job is in the technology sector, where you work with colleagues and customers who don’t necessarily focus on global health. Given your exposure to a broad range of people with varying interests, how do you think about the importance of telling The Task Force story and engaging people in our work?
In the last year and some change, we’ve all come to see the impact and value of global public health. The pandemic has opened all of our eyes to the importance of this work. I believe we can continue to increase awareness and more deeply engage technology sector colleagues and others with purposeful storytelling. There’s an old saying that a story can tell a thousand words. The Task Force has inspiring, impactful stories, but it doesn’t have the global recognition it should.
In the last year, The Task Force has made great strides in getting the message out more broadly, but there is additional work to do. I’m interested in bringing my experience to help elevate awareness and understanding of its impact on the world, not to drive visibility for the sake of publicity, but to prompt personal conscientiousness at global scale. Telling inspiring stories about underserved populations who have benefitted from the miracle of vaccines is just one way. My employer HPE’s purpose is to advance the way people live and work and The Task Force works to improve the health of people most in need so the parallels are unmistakable.
Lynn, tell us about The Task Force donors – who they are and why they choose us.
There are a lot of great causes to support and people choose those that align with their values and aspirations for the world. We’ve found that our donors – both long-time and more recent – believe that all people have the right to health and want to invest in an organization with a wide global reach and a proven track record of results and collaboration. We intentionally highlight the accomplishments of our partners rather than showcase our achievements, but our donors know that we are a trusted convener with the credibility to bring together key partners to tackle challenging problems. Partners like the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ministries of health, NGO peers, and community groups around the world seek to collaborate with The Task Force and our donors know this. They value our reputation as an organization that is a great partner, that contributes unique expertise, and that gets results.
One of our donors, an 87-year-old man in the southern United States, said he has been making monthly donations for more than three years because he believes in The Task Force’s “charge of taking care of the ill.” A California family of five said they have contributed for five years because of The Task Force’s “breadth and depth of work to improve health services around the world.” I personally love hearing from our donors about why they support The Task Force and the ways they want to connect with our work and the communities we serve.
Jim, what would you like people to know about The Task Force?
The Task Force is totally unique and comprised of passionate people who live and work with a values-driven purpose. They show up every day for those worldwide who lack access to vaccines and quality medical supplies. Reaching those populations sustains humanity and I’m proud to work with an organization that aims for the betterment of all.
Anyone who is willing to support with time or money is encouraged to get involved at any level. I recommend first experiencing the wonderful outcomes they deliver by signing up for The Task Force newsletter and following them on social media. The Task Force website also features great stories and content that gives more insights into the work. No matter what action you choose to take, I believe you will learn and be moved by some of the untold stories of hope that inspire. For example, The Task Force supports more than 35 countries rolling out COVID-19 vaccines, equips more than 19,000 COVID-responding field epidemiologists in more than 100 countries, and coordinated the donation of more than 9 million PPE items to health facilities. These are just a few examples amongst hundreds of the kind of impact The Task Force is delivering.
Lynn, what are the ways that people can give?
Those who want to donate directly can do so via our website or by sending a check. Online shoppers can take advantage of services like Amazon Smile, which allows shoppers to choose a charitable organization to receive a percentage of their purchase amount, at no cost to themselves. At this time of year, there are often ways to increase the impact of your donation. Right now, a group of loyal Task Force supporters is offering to match every dollar raised through the end of the year. And for people whose employers offer matches, that’s a great way to double the value of a personal donation. We know that some donors like to celebrate special occasions by hosting a virtual fundraiser and this giving page (through our ally Georgia Gives) makes it easy to do and share with friends and family. We appreciate and value every donor and every gift – no matter the size – as they make a difference in the lives of the people we serve.