Plan is one of the largest and oldest children’s rights organisations in the world. Religiously and politically unaffiliated, Plan improved the quality of life of children living in developing countries and child protection in 69 countries. Our aim is that every child’s right to life, development, protection and involvement in decision-making are realised. In particular, we focus on promoting education, early childhood education, child protection and youth employment. We have worked for children’s rights for over 75 years.
During 2014, Plan International worked in a total of 69 countries. Of these, 50 were programme countries and 21 were donor countries (two of the donor countries, India and Colombia, are also programme countries). Plan Finland carried out development programmes with the support of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the EU in 15 countries.
Donor countries Programme countries
Programme countries/donor countries
Plan Finland’s programme countries
Globally, Plan reached 81.5 million children in almost 90,000 communities in 2014. Plan’s global spending on its operations amounted to EUR 709 million, up 1% year-on-year. Plan’s income increased by 6% to EUR 722 million.
During the financial year, Plan implemented
225 programmes and 4,910 projects.
Plan worked with86,676 communities. This work reached 164.9 million people, of whom 81.5 million were children.
Plan Finland carries out development cooperation with the support of sponsors and donors, institutional funding and corporate donors. Plan’s work is supported by 20,000 Finnish sponsors, making Plan the largest sponsor organisation in Finland. Plan Finland is also a partner of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, which funds Plan’s programmes under three-year agreements. In total, Plan Finland spent EUR 12.4 million on development programmes in 2014.
48% Education and early childhood education
44% Child protection
8% Youth employment
Plan Finland expanded its programme work significantly through new project funding in 2014. Funding was obtained for two EU projects. In Ethiopia, the focus is on stopping harmful traditional practices affecting girls, and in Kenya on promoting inclusion of young people in good governance.
During the current agreement period, Plan Finland has three strategic focus areas. They are education and early childhood education, child protection and youth employment. We focus our work on areas in which we can most effectively promote the realisation of children’s rights. Of the funding, 56% was allocated to Africa, 28% to Asia and 16% to Latin America.
Watch the annual summaries of Ossi Heinänen, Plan’s Secretary General, and Gunvor Kronman, chair of the board of directors:
The aim of early childhood education programmes is to secure a healthy and safe childhood for children. This is achieved by supporting parenthood, reinforcing the child’s school abilities and easing the childcare pressures of working parents. Early childhood education aims to reach an increasing number of children as part of the national education in Plan’s programme countries.
Plan’s early childhood education projects reach from antenatal support for mothers to the children’s school age. The projects are realised in four steps, and they reach children aged 0–8. Parents, communities and the authorities also take part in the projects, which are based on local good upbringing practices.
The number of children starting school has increased steadily around the world in recent years. However, girls in particular are in danger of missing out on education already after a couple of years at school. Plan aims to have an increasing number of girls, minorities or other children at risk of marginalisation to attend school.
Globally, Plan spent almost EUR 100 million on early childhood education programmes in 2014.
We supported early childhood education programmes with funding from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland in Bolivia, Uganda, Timor-Leste, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique and Pakistan. Our programmes benefited 32,000 children in 428 early childhood education centres. In Mozambique, 129 orphans and other marginalised children were included in early childhood education. In particular, bringing the gender perspective to early childhood education with the help of new studies and tools progressed during the year.
The work of Plan International as a whole is based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the organisation is committed to implementing it. Children’s rights include the right to protection.
Plan’s child protection projects protect children from violence and improve the abilities of children and parents to prevent violence towards children. In particular, Plan protects those in a vulnerable position, such as girls and special groups. When children take part in the activities, they learn to identify the risks of violence and take care of their own rights. Children are also able to demand their rights at schools and homes.
Violence towards children is a violation of human rights. Our aim is to guarantee children a living environment in which his or her rights are respected. We work to combat child trafficking, school violence, mutilation of girls’ genitals and child marriages, among other things. We work with families, communities, schools and at the national level.
Globally, and also with the support of Finnish sponsors, Plan spent almost EUR 40 million on child protection programmes.
In 2014, Plan Finland had child protection projects in the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Togo and Vietnam. Child protection work reached 152 communities with approximately 20,000 girls and 20,000 boys. At a regional level, some 15,000 girls and 12,000 boys were reached. The establishment of a child protection system was launched or existing systems were reinforced in a total of 108 communities.
A child protection project in Ethiopia, for example, succeeded in preventing 77 child marriages, allowed 62 school dropouts to return to school and prevent dropping out of school for 458 schoolchildren.
Almost 85% of the world’s youth are living poor countries in which the majority of the population is aged 15–24. Young people are enthusiastic about working and often have the best skills in using new technologies, for example. However, they need support for finding their strengths, gaining employment and developing their vocational skills. Traineeships, entrepreneurship training and financing for youths’ business ideas help in employment.
Traineeship and hands-on learning increase the vocational skills of young people in accordance with the needs of the local labour market. The projects offer employers competence related to managing and encouraging youths and equal personnel policy. The projects aim to get youths heard in international decision-making and use of funds.
In Pakistan, poverty and young people’s share of the population are increasing at an extremely rapid rate. It is difficult for youths to find employment. Last year, a total of 2,300 young women took part in career guidance in projects supported by Plan Finland. 600 learned more about microfinancing and 300 found employment, got a trainee position or established a company of their own. In all, 230 youths received financial support for vocational education. After the education, some of the youths were employed in corresponding occupations, 21 youths founded a company through microfinancing and 109 youths found trainee positions.
Information events on youth employment, education opportunities and gender equality were arranged in a total of 56 communities, with almost 8,500 people taking part. Over 5,000 pupils took part in career guidance at schools.
Plan is one of the world’s leading organisations in the field of child-oriented disaster relief. In disasters, children are threatened by epidemics, malnutrition, mentally difficult experience and human rights violations more frequently than adults. Girls are at particular risk. In addition to basic needs, such as water and shelter, Plan aims to secure child protection and continuation of schooling in unstable conditions.
Preventing and preparing for disasters is a significant part of Plan’s work in the programme countries. It is important for the communities to know the risks in advance, find out possible evacuation locations and prepare rescue plans. Another important thing is to ensure the continuity of development cooperation programmes in acute disaster areas.
Plan International’s disaster relief fund can quickly allocate funds to those in need. Experts in humanitarian work will also be dispatched to disaster areas, if necessary. During the past year, Plan Finland allocated disaster relief to South Sudanese escaping from floods and internal conflicts and areas ravaged by typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
We delivered food and hygiene aid and clean water to those escaping the conflict and floods in South Sudan. We established child-friendly premises and temporary schools and assisted in child protection-related affairs at camps.
After the deadly Typhoon Haiyan, Plan started one of the largest disaster relief fundraising projects in its history. We worked in the areas with the most damage in the Philippines. We supplied food, clean water, hygiene supplies and school supplies, and supported the continuation of children’s schooling and their recovery from the disaster.
Plan’s global school is a global advocacy education package aimed at the education and childcare sector. Plan is one of Finland’s leading global advocacy organisations.
During the past year, our 60 children’s rights ambassadors gave almost 1,800 lessons at a total of almost 250 schools. The lectures concerned child labour, gender roles, birth registration, refugees and children seen in disaster photos, among other themes. The “Turpa Auki!” (Open your mouth!) rap lyrics workshop on youth involvement and global youth unemployment was arranged for a hundred youths at vocational schools in the Uusimaa region.
A total of 38 classes took part in the “Lapsen oikeuksien kymppi” (Children’s rights ten) study module around Finland, e.g. Helsinki, Espoo, Turku, Jyväskylä, Oulu and Rovaniemi. The package is comprised of ten visits by a children’s rights ambassador and study materials. The themes include the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, home, family, play and leisure time, education, health and clean water, child labour, birth registration and children’s empowerment.
The “Aktiiviseksi maailmankansalaiseksi koulun kerhossa” (Becoming an active global citizen in a school club) project was implemented in cooperation with Development Centre Opinkirjo and three partner schools in Tampere, Lappeenranta and Jyväskylä. A total of 180 attended the clubs, and the production of global advocacy club materials was begun based on the pilots.
The “Lapsen oikeudet media- ja taidekuvissa” (Child’s rights in media and art images) project was carried out at six primary schools in Helsinki, Tampere and Lappeenranta as cooperation between Plan ambassadors and local museums. The project developed the media literacy and knowledge of children’s rights among primary school pupils and their teachers. The project covered 18 classes with a total of 400 pupils.
Cooperation between Finnish and Ugandan schools trained peer mediators to Ugandan schools, and the empowerment of children was discussed through mystery boxes sent between the schools.
Plan volunteers talked about girls’ rights in particular during the year. One of the highlights of the year was the Day of the Girl in October, during which volunteers arranged events in ten cities around Finland. Volunteers also took part in the Nose Day, Markets of Possibilities and many other events in different locations and organised Girls Rising movie shows. Plan’s first Etvo volunteers were sent to Mozambique and Cameroon.
The most important theme in the work of Plan’s Children’s board was violence against children. The final event of the Beat the Violence campaign started last year reached over 600 youths in Nosturi, Helsinki. International cooperation took place with the Vietnamese Young Media Club. A workshop on violence against children was arranged in Vietnam, with two members of the Children’s board taking part. During the year, the role of the Children’s Government in Plan Finland’s decision-making was also strengthened.
The cooperation between the Mitä network of young adults with the Sierra Leone youth organisation YACAN culminated in a joint lobbying campaign. A month before the European Parliament elections, the Mitä network built an interactive installation in the centre of Helsinki, reviewing global youth unemployment from the point of view of consistency of the EU’s development cooperation policies. 15 candidates discussed the topic at the opening event in front of an audience of 175. During a single weekend, the installation attracted 525 visitors. Action groups for youths interested in influencing businesses and gender issues were also established within the Mitä network.
The Matkalla (On the way) project, started in 2013, continued to support children who have moved to Finland towards the end of their compulsory school age and their parents. Funded by RAY, the project cooperates with ten schools and youth centres, volunteers and a diverse network of authorities and NGOs. During the year, the project reached 50 immigrant youths and their parents, representing 20 nationalities in all. The youths who took part in the project experienced that their social networks had grown significantly. Their skills in solving challenges in everyday life have also developed.
Plan specialises in using modern information and communications technology in development cooperation. It makes the flow of information, hearing the voice of citizens and involvement of children easier.
In developing countries, the largest technological breakthrough began from mobile phones spreading to the private market. Actually, mobile phones have become common almost all over the world. More and more people in poor countries look for information on the Web, communicate and use services on a mobile phone.
In utilising technology, it is necessary to take into account the local needs and use technology suitable for the conditions. The users must be provided with understandable and useful content. For example, children can report information on whether the teacher arrives at the class in the morning with a mobile phone. In disasters, IT makes the coordination of aid easier and faster.
It is important in our work that also groups in a weaker position than others – girls and ethnic minorities, for example – benefit from the opportunities provided by technology. When technology supports communications, the efficiency and effectiveness of development cooperation also improves. Cooperation between Plan and technology companies makes IT part of development work efficiently. Poimapper was developed jointly by Plan Finland, the Finnish company Pajat Solutions and Plan Kenya. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs provided financial support for the project.
During the financial year, Plan Finland strengthened its role as an ICT4D pioneer. The use of the Poimapper application expanded rapidly, and it will be used in about two dozen Plan countries (Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Colombia, Guinea Bissau, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sudan, Thailand, Eastern Timor, Uganda and Zambia).
When a natural disaster strikes, help is needed as quickly and efficiently as possible. The Poimapper application developed by Plan Finland and the Finnish company Pajat solutions was used for charting the need for help in the areas hit the hardest by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
The mobile application helped aid workers to quickly collect data on the distribution of water and food, as well as the condition of schools and roads. Plan’s local workers were able to collect information on unusable bridges, for example, in a common database. This way, the aid workers could plan alternative routes.
“The application was particularly well suited for coordinating initial disaster relief,” says Jonathan Dayrit, IT manager at Plan Philippines.
In crisis situations, it is difficult to receive up-to-date information. However, it is needed to be able to deliver aid to those who need it the most. With Poimapper, data collection is possible with mobile phones, also offline. The mobile phones are charged using generators, solar cell chargers or portable batteries.
The data will be transferred to the network later at the disaster centre. This way, information becomes quickly available. It can also be easily shared and updated. Poimapper makes it possible to track the need for help in real time.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland has supported the development of the application financially.
Plan’s communications and fundraising work in close cooperation so that our sponsors will be informed of the results of our work and for Plan to find new sponsors for its work. The International Day of the Girl is one of the highlights of the year.
On the Day of the Girl, Plan and photographer Meeri Koutaniemi opened up a joint exhibition of photographs of refugee girls at a Niger refugee camp. At the seminar arranged in connection with the opening ceremonies, Plan published its annual international girl report.
The significance of disaster relief work in communications strengthened. In connection with Typhoon Haiyan, Plan Finland obtained video and other communication materials from the Philippines for Finnish media and use by Plan offices in other countries. In addition, Plan’s disaster relief work was extensively presented at the World Village Festival.
Plan arranged a training programme on development issues and children’s rights for journalists. The programme included a one-week course in Helsinki and media exchange in a developing country for three course participants. A total of 18 journalists took part in the course, of whom three from media in the programme countries.
We developed our TV cooperation with Nelonen Media during the year. In December, Plan’s work and its results were showcased at the Dancing on Ice: Plan Gala. We cooperated with TV host Arman Alizad to increase the number of sponsors. Alizad told about Plan’s work and sponsorship in the programmes Arman's Last Crusade, Arman ja Kamerunin kummilapset as well as the entertainment programme Hyvät ja huonot uutiset.
Plan actively takes part in the implementation of the Nose Day every year. New local events attracted enthusiastic participants, and the event gained more extensive media visibility.
Plan is increasingly active in social media. One of the most effective social media campaigns during the year was the “Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation” campaign announced by Plan on the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, allowing people to spread Plan’s message against mutilation further.
Going to school is the dream of many a girl in developing countries. However, there are obstacles to the dreams: child marriages, violence, discrimination and harmful practices. Girls are discriminated against all around the world due to their age and gender. The International Day of the Girl attracts global attention to the position and rights of girls. The UN approved the day as a result of Plan’s lobbying.
The International Day of the Girl was celebrated for the second time in October 2013. Plan celebrated the day in all of the 69 countries in which it operates.
Plan’s and award-winning photographer Meeri Koutaniemi’s photograph exhibition Kaukana kotoa: Tabareybareyn tytöt (Far from home: Tabareybarey girls) was opened on the Day of the Girl in Sanomatalo, Helsinki. The photos of Koutaniemi, who visited a refugee camp in Niger, illustrate the everyday life of five refugee girls from Mali.
The international girl report was also published at a seminar arranged in connection with the opening ceremonies. The Day of the Girl report was published with an innovative campaign at Sanomatalo; every donation printed out the text of the report word by word so that the final report was printed out during the Day of the Girl.
On the Day of the Girl, Plan arranged a fundraising and flash mob event with volunteers in Helsinki. Cash collectors told passersby about Plan’s work.
Plan’s volunteers arranged events in several locations around Finland. Volunteers dressed famous statues in Joensuu, Oulu, Kemi and Vaasa in pink. The volunteers arranged a score of happenings at the statues, such as poetry readings.
The Day of the Girl was also visible in the form of buildings lit in pink. Kuopio Community College, Oulu City Theatre, central square of the Zeppelin shopping centre in Kempele, Tampere Hall, the radio masts in Lahti and Finlandia Hall in Helsinki shone in pink in line with the colour of Plan’s Because I am a Girl campaign.
Plan sponsors support children in developing countries. Every sponsor has a sponsored child of their own with whom they can also correspond and visit, if they want. The sponsors’ support benefits the sponsored child’s entire community – healthcare, education and child protection are improved through Plan’s work, for example.
The development of the sponsored children’s communities takes place in cooperation with the local residents. Often, the authorities and NGOs of the country in question are also involved. Plan has sponsored child activities in 48 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
All children can become sponsored children. The ages of the children vary from a few months to 17. The sponsored children receive no special treatment compared to other children; all children in the community benefit equally from the sponsorship.
Private persons, families, school classes, companies or groups of people from work or hobbies can be sponsors. You can write a letter to the sponsored child in your native language, English or the sponsored child’s native language, such as Spanish. Our volunteers translate letters written in Finnish or Swedish into English, and they are translated into the child’s mother tongue in the destination country, if necessary.
Approximately 30 Finnish Plan sponsors visit their sponsored children a year. The visits are always arranged in cooperation with Plan. The sponsors take care of flights, accommodation, insurance and vaccinations by themselves. Plan Finland and the local Plan office make the practical arrangements associated with meeting the sponsored child.
During the past financial year, Plan campaigned to have 1,000 new sponsors support the work of the organisation. The Arman and sponsored children in Cameroon programme also gave visibility to sponsorship.
When teacher Riikka Kuusiniemi from Pori and her husband Henri arrived at a school yard in the Andes in Peru, Riikka’s sponsored child Roxana and everyone from the school were expecting the visitors, waving Finnish and Peruvian flags they had drawn themselves. The children’s signing and enthusiastic, slyly smiling faces wished the visitors welcome.
“It was a heart-moving moment, I felt pretty speechless. I thought that this is the girl with whom I’ve been writing. It made all of the things we had told each other in letters take form,” Riikka says, remembering her first encounter with ten-year-old Roxana.
Roxana was shy about the distant visitors, but as the day went on, the shy girl turned out to be an alive and playful child. Riikka also got to meet Roxana’s family, living in harsh conditions on a mountain slope. There was a lot to talk about, with the local Plan employee Enrique interpreting. The family offered a guinea-pig meat lunch typical of the Andes, after which the visitors learned about Plan’s operations in the area.
According to Riikka, a sponsor means a lot more to a child than only financial support. Riikka has encouraged Roxana to go to school herself. She believes that sponsorship has a positive effect on the sponsored child’s life.
“I believe that Roxana feels that she is important and enjoys the thought of there being a person on the other side of the world with whom she can write about everyday matters and who is interested in her life.”
Plan Finland is a pioneer in cooperation with businesses in Finland. We cooperate with businesses to have access to companies’ competence and funds for decreasing poverty and improving children’s rights.
By cooperating with us, a company can promote their social responsibility and strengthen its brand and employer image through concrete measures.
During the past financial year, our largest business partners were Nokia, Metso, Orion and Finavia.
Our partners are often particularly interested in the Because I am a Girl campaign to promote the schooling of children. During the past financial year, our partners also donated to the disaster relief campaign opened after the Haiyan disaster in the Philippines.
The use of child labour was another theme during the year. There are 168 million child workers in the world, with child labour being the most common form of child abuse. Companies play a key role in abolishing child labour, while NGOs can offer them effective means for this. At the Ratkaisun paikka corporate responsibility event, Plan gave a session on child labour and the role of companies, with child labour expert John B. Trew as the keynote speaker.
A cooperation project of Plan and Metso was implemented in 15 schools in the Alwar district in northern India. It is part of Plan’s more extensive project to improve water and sanitation services in India. In particular, the project promotes the schooling of girls.
According to a Plan survey of Indian schools, there were severe shortcomings in the quality of drinking water in the schools, or water was available only part of the year. Over one-third of the schools included in the survey lacked clean drinking water completely. Many schools lacked toilets, or if there any, they were not working or people did not know how to use them.
As a result of the project, this is changing. Hand washing points and running water have been arranged for the school toilets. Pupils’ awareness of hygiene was increased with the help of diverse campaigns and theme days. The schools sponsored by Metso have a total of 3,000 pupils and 90 teachers.
Improving the water and sanitation services of schools is part of Plan’s more extensive water project in India. It covers 50 schools, influencing the life of approximately 10,000 schoolchildren. Improving the water and sanitation services of schools have a positive impact on the schooling of girls in particular. Functional and appropriate toilets and running water provide girls with better opportunities for taking care of personal hygiene and health.
76% Programme work
24% Other costs
41,9 % Sponsors’ donations
39.8% Support from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs
4.9% EU funding
2.1% Cooperation with businesses
11.3% Other donations and grants
Plan Finland’s total income for the financial year amounted to EUR 16.2 million. Income decreased by EUR 900,000 year-on-year. A significant share of overall income is comprised of multi-year funding agreements for development projects.
The significant increase in other donations did not completely offset the minor decrease in sponsor fees. Funding by companies also decreased year-on-year. New institutional funding agreements exceeded the objective, but due to the allocation of programme funding, the recognised income fell short of the year before.
Plan Finland expanded its programme work significantly in 2014. A total of EUR 12.4 million, or 76% of total income, was spent on programme work. Of this, EUR 9.8 million (60%) was forwarded to development cooperation programmes carried out by Plan International. EUR 1.1 million (7% of total income) was spent on programme-related and technical support of programmes. EUR 1 million (6% of total income) was spent on domestic programme work. EUR 400,000 (3% of total income) was spent on lobbying, development education and communications.
The most significant individual funder of Plan Finland’s programme work during the year was the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. EUR 6.5 million of funding from it was recognised in income. The European Union is another important funder of Plan’s work – its funding totalled EUR 800,000 during the 2014 financial year.
Even though the general economic situation had effects on donations, the amount of private donations received by Plan Finland grew year-on-year. In 2014, private donations totalled EUR 800,000. The amount of sponsor funding decreased to EUR 6.8 million. Cooperation with businesses generated EUR 340,000.
The costs of fundraising amounted to EUR 2.3 million (14% of total income). The costs of the organisation’s communications, management and administration, finance and IT totalled EUR 1.6 million (10% of total income). Plan Finland invested in system reforms in fundraising and customer management during the financial year, which could be seen as an increase in fundraising costs. However, the adopted tools are expected to improve the results of fundraising in the future.
Our donor service adopted the joint European payment traffic system and e-invoicing. Plan Finland joined international cooperation to plan and implement a new customer account management system. During the financial year, Plan Finland also started a significant online service reform.
Plan Finland’s operations are managed by the foundation’s board of directors, the Secretary General is responsible for day-to-day management. Plan Finland’s Secretary General is Ossi Heinänen.
During the financial year, the board of directors of Plan Finland Foundation had eight members. Gunvor Kronman, CEO, was the chair of Plan’s board of directors. Members of the board of directors were Kati Ihamäki, Tuula Kallio, Timo Kaunisto, Tauno Kääriä, Pentti Sydänmaanlakka. The youth member of the board of directors, starting from June 2014, was Anniina Kontinen, the Mitä? network was represented by Sara Nurmilaukas and the Children’s Government was represented by Sofia Böling. The board convened six times during the financial year.
The members of Plan Finland’s management team were Ossi Heinänen, Secretary General, Olli Jahnsson, CFO, Kirsi Mettälä, Marketing Director, Sanna Viitanen, Head of domestic programmes, Anna Könönen, Communications Director, Julia Ojanen, Programme Director, and Susanna Saikkonen, Director of business cooperation.
On average, Plan Finland employed 45 regular and 16 fixed-term employees during the financial year. In addition, an average of 10 employees were on study or parental leaves. The average age of regular and long-term (over 6 months) fixed-term employees was 41.3 years. The average age of supervisors was 44.6 years, of other employees 40.4 years.
Most of the work contracts were regular (75%); fixed-term work contracts were mainly signed with maternal leave substitutes and project workers.