Operations in 2015

Plan International Finland

Significant advances were made in child protection and the improvement of girls’ position during Plan International Finland’s year. Thanks to joint campaigning by organisations, the UN General Assembly made a decision that will increase the pressure on banning child marriages in all countries. In our area of operations, we influenced legislation that will improve the lives of a total of 151 million children. At the grass root level, we worked to improve child protection, education, early childhood education and youth employment in more than 80,000 communities. Together, we achieved a lot! You can read more about our work last year below.

Plan International is one of the largest and oldest children’s rights organisations in the world. Religiously and politically unaffiliated, Plan operated in a total of 71 countries in 2015. In particular, our aim is to improve the quality of life of children in the weakest position and the position of girls in developing countries. We work in education, health, water and sanitation, protection, economic safety, disaster relief work, children’s participation and sexual and reproductive health.

During the financial year 2015, the operations of Plan International expanded into a new country, Nigeria. We are working for the education and protection of girls in Africa’s most populous country. Plan’s programme work in Nigeria is beginning in a socially difficult situation in which the terrorist organisation Boko Haram has violently attacked against education and girls’ rights.

Of the 71 Plan countries, 51 are programme countries and 21 are donor countries (two of the donor countries, India and Colombia, are also programme countries). In 2015, Plan’s global spending on its operations amounted to EUR 810 million, up 14% year-on-year. During the operational period, we implemented 216 programmes and over 4,000 projects, with over 100 million children in their sphere of influence.

 Donor countries
 Programme countries
 Programme countries/donor countries
 Plan Finland’s programme countries
During the financial year, Plan implemented 216 programmes and 4,153  projects.
Plan worked with 85,280  communities.
Our work reached 214.3 million people, of whom 100.5 million were children.

As part of the international organisation, Plan International Finland carries out development cooperation with the support of sponsors and donors, institutional funding and corporate donors. Our work is supported by over 18,000 Finnish sponsors, which makes Plan the biggest sponsor organisation in Finland. Globally, Plan’s sponsor operations covered 1.4 million children during the operational period.

Plan International Finland is a programme support organisation of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The Ministry funds Plan’s programmes under three-year agreements, the previous of which for 2012–2014 ended during the operational period. Plan International Finland’s work reached over 600,000 children in 15 countries during the three-year period. For example, the improvements of basic education that we sponsored directly benefited over 97,000 girls and 82,000 boys, and over 420,000  children and adults took part in our child protection operations.

Plan International Finland’s work reached over 600,000 children in 15 countries during the three-year period.

In total, Plan International Finland spent EUR 11.2 million on development programmes in 2015. The share of other sources of funds, such as EU funding, increased in development programmes year-on-year. We signed agreements on new projects in Cambodia, Ethiopia and Kenya. In cooperation with businesses, we strengthened our role as a pioneer that efficiently utilises information technology in support of development programmes. Our position in humanitarian work strengthened due to the ECHO status granted by the EU.

Plan International Finland prepared a new strategy aligned with Plan International during the financial year. In programme work, preparation for climate change and improving governance and the involvement of children rose as new themes alongside education and early childhood education, child protection and youth employment.

Plan International Finland’s work reached over 600,000 children in 15 countries during the three-year period.

Supporting children on three continents

The aim of our programme work was to improve the realisation of the rights of children in the  weakest position.

The total budget of the partnership programme supported by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs carried out in 2012–2014 and ended last year was EUR 21.2 million, of which our share was 15 per cent. The work focused on child protection, early childhood education, education and youth employment. During the past financial year, we also obtained a total of approximately EUR 2.3 million of new funding from the EU and UN organisations. The funds are allocated to humanitarian work, a youth involvement project in Kenya and climate change-related work in Cambodia.

With the support of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, we successfully realised projects in a total of 15 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. In Uganda, Plan’s early childhood education model has received a lot of recognition, and the government is planning to adopt the model at the national level. We have also achieved good results in girls’ education: when we began the work to improve the level of basic education in the programme communities in 2012, only 30 per cent of girls graduated from elementary school. Now, their share has increased to 80 per cent.

In Bolivia, tens of thousands of children have been given high-quality early childhood education thanks to us.

Thanks to Plan’s long-term work, the quality of teaching has also improved in our project areas in Uganda. The schools of the Tororo region, for example, improved their ranking in the national final exams from 28th in 2012 to 9th in 2014. In the project, we conducted groundbreaking cooperation utilising information and communication technology with Nokia, which won us the international Plan’s innovation reward. The school project will also continue during the next three-year period. It now covers approximately 40,000 children and about 30,000 adults.

In Bolivia, we included 25,400 children in high-quality early childhood education during the project period. When we began the work, only 17 per cent of children were at the development level of their age. Today, at least 70 per cent of the children included in our early childhood education work are estimated to develop in line with their age.

In 2015, Plan International’s global spending on early childhood education totalled EUR 118 million. With this sum, we educated a total of 226,000 healthcare professionals and volunteers and launched almost 11,000 nurseries, among others. Our investments in basic education totalled EUR 99 million, with which we trained 112,000 people in the field of education and built or renovated 2,400 school buildings.

In Bolivia, tens of thousands of children have been given high-quality early childhood education thanks to us.
Lucia (right) playing with her friends in early childhood education.

Plan is building the future of East Timor through early childhood education

“When I began school, I already knew the alphabet and numbers, so it was easy for me to follow the education,” says Lucia, aged 9, from East Timor.

Before the beginning of school, Lucia attends an early childhood education centre supported by Plan. Now, she also takes her younger siblings to the centre.

“I want my siblings to feel as confident at school as I did,” Lucia says.

East Timor gained its independence in 2002, and it is one of the poorest countries in the world. Only five per cent of children are covered by early childhood education services. The mortality rate of children aged under five is among the world’s highest. One in sixteen children die of diarrhoea, respiratory infections or malaria before the fifth birthday. All of these diseases could be prevented. Poor hygiene and malnutrition cause several diseases, and up to 40 per cent of East Timor children suffer from growth defects.

“Early childhood education and education of children are among the best ways of building the future of a fragile state,” says Mari Luosujärvi, Program Manager for Plan.

Plan establishes the early childhood education centres together with the village communities. This way, the communities commit to running them in the future as well. Plan’s volunteers also organise training on children’s versatile nutrition, health, child protection and children’s rights to parents.

Plan has been working in East Timor since 2001. Plan International Finland supports early childhood education in East Timor with the support of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, donors and sponsors. In addition, funds raised in the Red Nose Day are allocated to early childhood education in East Timor.

The most acute challenges in child protection include harmful practices concerning girls, such as child marriages and genital mutilation. In Ethiopia, Plan’s work has influenced the local legislation during the current three-year period so that a total of 14 communities decided to abandon these practices and ban them. The work will continue during the new partnership programme in 12 communities with a total of 125,000 people.

The grass root-level projects were supported by Plan’s global work to strengthen children’s rights. Plan and other non-governmental organisations jointly influenced national and international legislation aiming to create pressure on abandoning harmful practices. A resolution of the UN’s General Assembly urging all countries in the world to prohibit child marriages in their national legislation was a significant achievement. We executed campaigns against child marriages in 20 countries around the world, and they reached over 150,000 girls in all. On the whole, our programme work covered three million girls.

Our work to end child marriages reached 150,000  girls.
Beyenech is dreaming about becoming a politician or a doctor because she wants to help others.

“I did not submit to being cut.”

When the Ethiopian girlBeyenech was 14 years old, her father urged her to marry an old man. This also meant that Beyenech would have to go through genital mutilation.

“I was afraid of the future. I had never even seen the man who has to become my husband. I knew that becoming a mother at that age meant nothing but trouble. I also knew that if I could not stay at school, I would not have my own income or a future,” Beyenech says.

The life of this determined girl changed when she saw a Plan poster on the side of the road that explained the importance of girls’ education. Beyenech wrote a letter, after which Plan’s employees came to the girl’s home. They succeeded in making her father cancel the marriage and the genital mutilation. The family received financial support, and Beyenech, aged 16, is now the best student in her school.

Plan works in Ethiopia to stop female genital mutilation and child marriages. Up to three out of four Ethiopian women have been mutilated, and two out of five girls have to marry before their 18th birthday. Early marriages compromise girls’ health. Childbirth and complications during pregnancy are the most common cause of death teenage girls in developing countries.

In Bonazuria, the area where Beyenech is from, there used to be the belief that only a cut girl is moral and obedient. That is why girls’ external genitals have usually been mutilated in their teens at the latest. Plan launched community discussions in the area, regularly discussing common issues. Plan also established girls’ clubs in which the harms of genital mutilation are discussed. The discussions have played a key role in changing the attitudes. At first, they resulted in opposition, but hundreds of circumcisers have abandoned cutting. The men of the communities have also successfully been brought along to protect the girls.

In Plan’s project areas, up to 92 per cent of girls are spared from genital mutilation. The children’s welfare project supported by Plan International Finland and the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs was launched in 2012, and it expanded into new areas in Ethiopia in 2015.


Quick and effective humanitarian work

Plan International is one of the world’s leading organisations in the field of child-oriented disaster relief. In 2015, the international Plan spent a total of EUR 145 million on humanitarian work and helped in a total of 51 disasters.

In our work, we aim to ensure that the basic needs, protection and schooling of children are secured also in a disaster situation. Foreseeing disasters and preparing for them in the programme countries is an important part of the work. We are already present in many disaster areas through our development programme, which makes work faster during an acute crisis. For example, after the earthquake in Nepal, our support reached over 8,600 children during the first eight weeks.

In 2015, Plan International Finland continued humanitarian work with refugees in Uganda, Ethiopia and Mali. At refugee camps in northern Uganda, we supported the well-being of South Sudanese children in cooperation with UNICEF. We established early childhood education centres and child-friendly premises on the camp, trained volunteer instructors and strengthened child protection. We also strengthened communities’ child welfare mechanisms in Ethiopia, maintained a child welfare register and monitored child protection violations. We supported the access of children to schooling by building schools and early childhood education centres. Our refugee work in Mali continued as part of a more extensive programme, and it focused on child-friendly facilities and early childhood education.

After the earthquake in Nepal, we helped over  8,600 children during the first eight weeks.

Plan International Finland’s institutional funding for humanitarian work was EUR 0.8 million during the financial year, in addition to which we received private donations from fundraising for Nepal, for example. Thanks to our long-term, high-quality work, we were granted the ECHO status for humanitarian aid by the EU during the operational year. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland also approved us as their humanitarian partner. Our employees were active in disaster areas as part of the humanitarian work coordinated by the international Plan.

Globally, Plan’s big humanitarian work efforts included work to overcome the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2015. We trained almost 17,000 people to fight the disease in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

After the earthquake in Nepal, we helped over  8,600 children during the first eight weeks.
After the earthquake, Asmita (in the centre) lived with her family in a tent camp supported by Plan.

Back to school after an earthquake

An 8.7 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal on 25 April 2015, followed by another big earthquake with landslides on 12 May. Hundreds of aftershocks were measured in Nepal during the following months. Approximately 9,000 people lost their lives and thousands were injured in the disaster. The worst natural disaster in Nepal’s recent history affected the lives of millions of people.

The home of 10-year-old Asmita was completely destroyed in the earthquake.

“I was very afraid. I thought that everyone around me was going to die. The earth was shaking all around me. The earthquake caused a loud noise. I could not sleep all night,” Plan’s sponsored child Asmita remembers.

Fortunately, the family was outdoors during the earthquake, so no one was trapped in the ruins. A pile of rocks and pieces of boards are the only thing left of the home. All of the family’s belongings were destroyed, including food stocks, as did the plot that they had been farming.

What annoyed Asmita the most was the loss of school supplies.

“I am afraid that I cannot return to school and study any more because all of my books were destroyed and buried,” Asmita grieved after the earthquakes.

Plan International Finland began to deliver disaster relief to Nepal right away and opened emergency fundraising to help children suffering from the destruction. We focused on helping the children in the weakest position and remote communities in rural Nepal.

The worst-hit rural areas were located where the Dalits, the poorest communities in Nepal, live. Most bridges and roads were cut, and health care services were poor. Thousands of children had become separated from their parents or lost them and were sleeping outdoors. Plan’s employees and volunteers distributed food, shelter and water 24 hours a day. We protected children from violence and human trafficking.

The big earthquakes also destroyed up to one half of Nepal’s schools. We supported the return of children to school and everyday life by establishing hundreds of temporary school centres and distributing school supplies.

After the natural disaster, Amsita’s family lived under a tarpaulin next to their destroyed home. Cold nights and monsoon rains, which began after the disaster, made survival more difficult.

“We would want our home to be rebuilt as soon as possible. We just hope that our life will return back to normal,” Asmita said.

Six months after the earthquakes, Plan’s aid has already helped over 255,000 people. The reconstruction will take a long time. Finns have sponsored over 450 children in Nepal through Plan. Over 30,000 children take part in international Plan’s development cooperation programmes in Nepal.


New creative global advocacy education and active volunteer work

Plan International Finland is one of Finland’s leading global advocacy organisations. We provide training on children’s rights to children, youths and educators, as well as influence the attitudes of decision-makers and citizens. Our volunteer work and immigrant work also focus on promoting children’s rights.

During the year, Plan’s children’s rights ambassadors gave 1,300 lessons in almost 200 schools and youth centres. 14,000 children and youths attended them. To support teachers and educators, we published a book, Kuvien tarinat (Stories of images), which aims to develop media and graphic literacy and understanding of children’s rights through images. The authors of the book are professionals from the media, arts and museums.

Three-year cooperation between Finnish and Ugandan schools deepened during the operational year. In the Osallisena maailmassa (Involved in the world) cooperation project, 11 Finnish and 11 Ugandan partner schools exchange experiences of strengthening children’s rights and involvement in the school world. Thanks to the cooperation, the Ugandan schools have adopted the Finnish peer mediation process, verso, with good results.

Plan’s volunteers organised a total of 165 events during the year.

During the operational period, Plan’s volunteers organised a total of 165 events, including photography exhibitions. Girls’ Day was visible around the country in 12 locations through publicity stunts, events and cash collections organised by volunteers. Volunteers successfully coordinated cooperation between different organisations in Kemi and Turku for the Red Nose Day. We also awarded the volunteers of the year for the fifth time, rewarding them for their long work for the rights of children.

The parliamentary election took place during the operational year, and it was strongly visible in the activities of the Children’s Government, Mitä? network and volunteers. The Children’s Government organised election panels on children’s right and development cooperation in Jyväskylä, Tampere, Turku and Helsinki. After the election, children took their greetings to the new members of parliament personally in the Painavaa asiaa event of NGOs.

Plan’s volunteers organised a total of 165 events during the year.
Youths from Plan’s Children’s Government in the shooting of the Global youth exhibition.

Youths are similar everywhere in the world

The idea of photographing the youth emerged in a Children’s Government meeting of Plan International Finland. Finnish youths decided to invite Vietnam’s Young Media Club, with whom they had cooperated already before, to join them. Young Media Club is Plan’s youth group in Vietnam specialising in various media projects.

The Vietnamese got excited about the exhibition, and the youths began to photograph their everyday lives in their native countries. In Finland, immigrant youths from Plan’s Matkalla project helped in the photography, and the young from the Children’s Government dramatised the scenes.

It was the joint purpose of the youths to increase awareness of children’s rights and position with the exhibition. The topics of the photos included the journey to school, lessons, bullying, hobbies and leisure activities. There are lots of similarities in the lives of children and youths: they have hobbies, meet friends and go to school.

“We chose Global Youth as the name of the exhibition. The name depicts how youths are basically the same around the world in spite of minor cultural differences,” says Aino, member of Plan’s Children’s Government.

The photography exhibition was opened on the Lasipalatsi square in Helsinki in March 2015, after which it toured several cities.

The youths’ Mitä network was particularly visible with its nationwide Sukupuoliroolien vangit (Prisoners of gender roles) campaign. The campaign challenged both Finnish youth and political decision-makers to ponder the effects of gender roles in their own lives. The symbol of the campaign was a bar cage that toured the events, from which one could get free by solving tasks related to gender equality.

We conducted immigrant work in particular in Finland through separate funding. Funded by the RAY (Finland’s Slot Machine Association), the four-year Matkalla(On the way) project focuses on supporting children who have moved to Finland towards the end of their compulsory school age and their parents. A new democracy advocacy project, Muuttajat! (Immigrants!) was also launched during the operational year, aiming to increase immigrant youths’ awareness of their possibilities to influence and make the channels of involvement part of the youths’ everyday lives. The project is aimed at youths aged 15–29 who have moved to Finland towards the end of their compulsory school age. The Kokeile ja liiku (Try and move) project to integrate immigrant youths through sport was also launched in 2015 with the support of the Ministry of Education and Culture. Every year, youths representing over 30 nationalities take part in our work.

The Sukupuoliroolien vangit (Prisoners of gender roles) campaign challenged citizens and decision-makers to ponder the effects of gender roles on their lives and society.

The Ei vihapuheelle (No to hate speech) movement, also funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture, which particularly supported teachers and educators in work against hate speech, ended in 2015. The movement daily reached over 25,000 followers on social media. The material produced by the movement or teachers, educators and those working with youths will remain available online also after the work has ended.

In cooperation with Development Centre Opinkirjo, we implemented the Aktiiviseksi maailmankansalaiseksi koulun kerhossa (Becoming an active global citizen in a school club) project in which we developed the social club activities of primary school pupils.

The Sukupuoliroolien vangit (Prisoners of gender roles) campaign challenged citizens and decision-makers to ponder the effects of gender roles on their lives and society.
The youths of the Matkalla project camped and played darts on Pihlajasaari in May 2015.

The Matkalla project supports and employs immigrant youths

“We are happy to be able to take part in the Matkalla project. The project has improved the self-esteem and self-confidence of our students in different situations,” says Päivi Kakko, teacher at Maininki School in Espoo.

Plan International Finland awarded Maininki School in recognition of its work with immigrant youths. The school has been participating in the project since 2013. We thanked the school for creating a positive atmosphere and encouraging youths to take part in social activities.

The Matkalla project coordinated by us is aimed at 8th and 9th grader immigrant youths who have only lived for a short time in Finland and their parents. The project supports the adaptation of the youths and their parents to Finnish everyday life.

The Matkalla youths practice life management skills and study techniques in peer groups, among other things. The youths have also prepared a photography exhibition and rap song about their life in Finland. The youths’ parents learn about the Finnish society and hobby opportunities in their own meetings.

Finding summer jobs for the project’s youths is an important part of the project. Immigrant youths have been employed for two-week internships at a garden, cafe, car wash, camps and shop.

– Finland can be a relatively difficult place for a young immigrant, and I wanted to help provide them with an opportunity to take their first steps into working life, explains store manager Linda Lehto from the interior design agency Kehrä, which has so far recruited two young immigrants.

The Matkalla project that we implemented in cooperation with the cities of Helsinki, Vantaa and Espoo, Laurea University of Applied Sciences, The Finnish Federation of Settlement Houses and SeslonkiYhdistys will continue until the end of 2016. The project is funded by RAY (Finland’s Slot Machine Association).


Global leadership, new creative research and award-winning innovations

The results report of the international Because I am a Girl campaign indicates that, in 2015, we were among the lead agents within the girls’ rights movement. The campaign has reached five million girls directly, and over 40 million girls and boys through broader communication and education.

During the Because I am a Girl campaign we conducted pioneering, global research on the position of girls. Data sorted by gender and age and limited exclusively to girls has been more poorly available than general statistics on, for example, children or women, even though the position of girls in many developing countries puts them in an especially vulnerable position. The annual The State of the World’s Girls report is the flagship of our research on education, sexual and reproductive health and violence targeted at girls. In 2015, we published the report before the girls’ day also in Finland.

During the past year, our campaign received support from an increasing number of state governments and leaders, including nine presidents. It affected the changing of 22 laws and the passing of 18 new laws and regulations to protect girls.

Involvement of children is important to us also within the organisation, and during the past year over half of our offices around the world involved them in decision making.

Girls are participating in project planning, research, decision making and advocacy work.

Plan International Finland has had a leading role within the international Plan in creating indicators for the programme work that help us estimate the projects’ impact on gender equality and improvement of girls’ position in practice. The Global Girls Innovation Programme does pioneering work modeling how girls can be involved in project planning, research, decision making and advocacy work. In 2015, the importance of the GGIP programme grew significantly within the organisation, and it is not by accident that the programme’s director and lead innovator were chosen for their tasks from the Finland office.

Plan International Finland has a greater role than its size would suggest also in utilising technology to support development cooperation. In 2015, the international organisation awarded our project done in cooperation with Nokia as Plan’s best innovation project. This education project in Uganda is still  continuing.

Girls are participating in project planning, research, decision making and advocacy work.
Pupils in Uganda can report teachers’ absences through a mobile application.

SMS messages brought girls to school in Uganda

– Our school’s administration has improved and, as a result, the learning results have also improved. Now, parents have respect for the school and want to send their children here, says Mulyanti Besweri, the headmaster of Kiziba elementary school, which is participating in Plan’s SMS project.

Plan International Finland is specialised in developing and utilising information and communication technology to support development cooperation. Our work has received recognition, as the joint project of the Plan offices in Finland and Uganda and Nokia won the international Global Awards prize as Plan’s best innovation project. The project received the award at the annual event in the category of The Most Innovative Use of Technology or Social Media, i.e. the best innovative use of technology in cooperative development.

The SMS service is the Ugandan version of the Wilma system in Finnish schools. Children can anonymously and free-of-charge inform authorities about teacher absences or violence, for example. Teachers can inform parents about the school’s news and let them know if a pupil didn’t come to school. The service has improved the interaction between schools and homes. It has also significantly increased girls’ school attendance: now there are as many girls as there are boys beginning school, and dropping out has decreased dramatically, in some counties as much as from 80 percent to 20 per cent. The absences of both pupils and teachers have decreased. This is also reflected in the number of child marriages, as girls stay in school.

Information technology makes it easier, for example, to transfer data, to bring out the citizens’ voice and to involve children in decision making. We want to ensure that the possibilities provided by technology are also available to girls and minority groups.

– The award is an indicator of the fact that the results of development cooperation can be significantly improved with technology. It is wonderful that our work as innovation utilisers was rewarded, says Plan International Finland’s specialist Mika Välitalo.

The school project’s SMS service is now used in over 100 schools and it covers over 18,000 children. The project is funded by Nokia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland.


Toward digital sponsorship

Our sponsored child activities included 1.4 million children from 50 different countries in 2015. The number of Finnish sponsors decreased slightly, while other forms of donation increased in popularity. However, Plan International Finland is still the largest sponsor organisation in the country. At the end of the financial year, our activities were funded by 18,200 Finnish sponsors.

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 wish. Sponsored children receive no special treatment in comparison with other children; the entire community benefits from the sponsorship.

During recent years our entire international organisation has reformed sponsorship and made the correspondence increasingly electronic as traditional letters become less common. Plan International Finland updated its sponsorship-related information systems during the year. Now sponsors can manage their information better through their Oma Plan page and, for example, access their correspondence history that is automatically saved in the database. The goal is tomake the correspondence between sponsors and sponsored children faster: before, the letters were sent via traditional mail and receiving a reply could take months, but now the letters written in villages can be scanned directly into the database in an increasing number of programme countries.

The correspondence between Plan sponsors and sponsored children will become faster and easier as electronic forms of communication become more common.

We will continue to monitor and develop the efficiency of our sponsorship activities. The new indicators that were implemented by the international organisation in 2015 allow us to monitor sponsorship’s impact on the lives of sponsored children and their communities more accurately than before. During the past year, we finished our work in a number of communities, as the target results were reached during the follow-up period.

The correspondence between Plan sponsors and sponsored children will become faster and easier as electronic forms of communication become more common.
Jukka Poika has a sponsored child in Indonesia.

Jukka Poika participating in the Children’s Dreams campaign

– Helping is a question of conscience. In the global context, I’m doing extremely well, so the minimum requirement for me is that I give at least a little bit of it back, says singer-songwriter Jukka Poika, a.k.a. Jukka Rousu.

This conclusion encouraged Jukka Poika to become a Plan sponsor for an Indonesian girl. He chose the country based on a previous trip, and he now dreams of one day being able to go visit the girl he sponsors. The father of three has been following Plan’s Because I’m a Girl campaign, and he is particularly touched by the stories of girls in developing countries.

– The sad truth is that when everyone is having a difficult time, girls are often having an even more difficult time. In crisis and conflict situations, women and girls are the most vulnerable to abuse, says Jukka Poika.

Sponsoring a child feels like a rewarding way to help because you can follow the child’s life for a long time. It’s a way to commit to helping for the long term.

– Helping is a bit more humane and comes a little closer. It’s rewarding to know what kind of situation you are helping with.

Jukka Poika also volunteered to represent Plan’s dream campaign that looked for sponsors to fulfil the dreams of children in developing countries. Children dreamed, for example, of school supplies, their own doll or food for their family.

Helping personally is important to Jukka Poika, and the musician wants to encourage others to do the same.

– So much of our taxes stay in Finland and a small percentage is directed at development cooperation. I think a larger percentage of tax money could be directed at development cooperation.


Businesses as long-term supporters

Many businesses support our work for decreasing poverty and improving children’s rights. During the financial year of 2015, Plan International Finland’s cooperation with long-term corporate partners, such as Nokia, Metso and Orion, continued.

Our biggest partner was Nokia. The five-year education project supported by Nokia is improving literacy and developing teaching methods in 300 schools in Kenya. As for Nokia’s and Plan’s project in Uganda, it is improving the communication between schools, homes and authorities with the help of an SMS application. Cooperation with Metso continued in India. The new four-year project in the Alwar region in North India is a continuation of the school project that makes high-quality education available also to children in the weakest position.

In addition to funding, businesses can support the projects with their special expertise in their field. Plan began a research project with Kesko that looks into the position of migrant workers in the fish industry in Thailand and their children’s access to protection and schools.

During the year, we also initiated new types of cooperation where businesses’ personnel and clients are also closely involved. For example, Wärtsilä’s personnel had the opportunity to vote for their preferred charity target out of several options, and as a result, Plan’s campaign for promoting girls’ education was chosen. Seppälä also involved their clients in the cooperation: they had the opportunity to round up the final sum of their purchases for the benefit of Plan.

Together, Plan and Kesko are looking into the position of migrant workers working in Thailand’s fish industry and their children.
Orion’s personnel decided to exercise for the benefit of girls.

In Plan’s occupational well-being campaign, participants exercised for the benefit of girls in developing countries

In 2015, Plan International Finland challenged businesses and their personnel to exercise for the benefit of girls in developing countries. The idea originated from businesses’ wish to improve occupational well-being and activate their employees to do charity work.

The challenge was first accepted by our long-term cooperation partner, Orion Oyj. Orion participated in the campaign with over 1,000 employees in all of Orion’s locations of activity and with approximately 250 different forms of exercise. The employees recorded their exercise in the HeiaHeia system online. Both traditional forms of exercise and incidental exercise were taken into account. In the Let’s Move for Girls campaign the entire personnel had the opportunity to combine their own well-being and the joy of helping.

– Supporting girls’ education in developing countries is very important, as it builds equality and involves girls in societal activity. I participated in the campaign with outdoor activities and jogging. I also did some yard work, says Orion’s President and CEO Timo Lappalainen.

The campaign received a lot of positive feedback. Well-being at work increased and the joy gained from exercise multiplied when participants knew that they were simultaneously helping girls in developing countries. Exercise gained a whole new meaning. The campaign strengthened the employees’ sense of solidarity towards co-workers and provided common topics of discussion. The cooperation benefitted everyone: girls and their communities and Finnish companies and their employees.


Award-winning visuals and new forms of fundraising

Communications and fundraising worked closely together to report the results of Plan’s work and to gain new supporters for it. One of the highlights of the year in all of Plan’s countries of activity was The International Day of the Girl.

Buildings around the world were lit up in pink, and Plan presented UN’s Secretary General with a photography appeal where a total of 2.3 million people are raising their hands for girls’ education. In Finland, we gathered together politicians and other societal agents to discuss girls’ position, and our volunteers organised events in many localities.

We promoted our international Because I’m a Girl campaign on other fronts as well. The award-winning photographer Meeri Koutaniemi photographed and compiled a photography exhibit of Nepalese girls, whom Plan had freed from their slave-like positions as kamalaris. In Ethiopia, Koutaniemi documented our project against female genital mutilation and child marriages. Both topics were widely covered in the Finnish media and the pictures were also used in international connections.

During the year, we also cooperated with TV host Arman Alizad in the programme Arman ja aymara-lapset (Arman and aymara children). The format reached new supporter groups and received a lot of publicity in social media. Alizad also participated in our campaign that highlighted the dreams of children in developing countries and encouraged people to take action to fulfil those dreams. We produced the Plan episode in The Voice Kids programme in cooperation with the TV channel Nelonen.

We encouraged our supporters to make one-time donations and monthly donations as well as to become sponsors. A particular focus was given to developing the forms of regular donating because long-term support forms the most solid base for our operations. Digital approaches and social media, including cooperation with bloggers, have an increasingly central role in our fundraising. We also strengthened our preparedness for urgent disaster fundraising.

The TV programme Arman ja aymara-lapset (Arman and aymara children) reached new supporter groups and became a hit in social media.

Face-to-face fundraising was the new and successful form of fundraising implemented in 2015 in the metropolitan area as well as in Turku, Tampere, Jyväskylä and Lahti. Its themes were girls’ education and protection. During the year, we also participated in the organisations’ shared estate plan donation campaign. On the Day of the Girl we organised a national cash collection with the help of volunteers.

Our audiovisual expression was enhanced and received recognition. During the year, we produced many materials that utilised video content in an innovative way. For the first time, we published Plan International Finland’s annual report as an online publication only, and it received an honorable mention especially for its visual outlook in the annual report evaluation of ProCom, the Finnish Association of Communications Professionals.

The TV programme Arman ja aymara-lapset (Arman and aymara children) reached new supporter groups and became a hit in social media.
Swastika Chaudhary is a former slave who is now helping young girls in Plan’s group and studying to become a teacher.

Photography empowered former child slaves

Photographer Meeri Koutaniemi and Plan conducted a photography project together with Nepalese girls who had been freed from slavery. Internationally award-winning Koutaniemi held a weeklong course in August 2014, during which 12 girls learned the basics about photography. At the same time, they reflected on their experiences, photographing them and their dreams.

– The idea was not only to teach photography, but also to strengthen the girls’ self-confidence and encourage them to find ways to express their emotions and experiences. I learned a great deal from the girls’ courage to share difficult memories and their ability to have a positive outlook on the future, says Koutaniemi.

–The 23-year-old course participants belong to the ethnic Tharu minority. Poor Tharu families have traditionally sold their daughters to rich families as slaves, or so called kamalaris. When we began campaigning against the kamalari system in 2006, there were over 12,000 kamalaris in Nepal. Presently, due to the government’s and organisations’ efforts, there is only an estimated 600 of them. Plan has freed over 4,000 kamalaris. We educate families about the harms of slavery and provide the freed girls with education and support.

Koutaniemi photographed the girls’ stories and compiled the exhibit Vapaita unelmia (Free dreams), which was on display in the Kamppi shopping centre in Helsinki around the Day of the Girl in October 2014. We also compiled the online exhibit Vapaat katseet (Free gazes) from the course participants’ own photographs. The exhibit is still available for viewing on our website.

Swastika Chaudhary, a former child slave, who participated in the workshop visited Helsinki around the Day of the Girl.

– I want to fight against the kamalari slavery by telling the Tharu girls’ parents that kamalari work ruins a child’s life. This information can help prevent parents from sending their girls to work as slaves, says 23-year-old Chaudhary, who is now studying to become a teacher.

Plan’s personnel dressed in red in honour of Red Nose Day.

Red Nose Day: fooling around for the benefit of the world’s children.

Humour, fooling around and red noses can change the world. Every year in October and November, the national campaign of the Red Nose Day foundation raises funds for the benefit of children living in the poorest conditions in the world. The campaign culminates in the Red Nose Day show featuring Finland’s biggest names in entertainment every autumn.

Through the Red Nose Day, Plan International Finland receives support for the early childhood education work it carries out in four countries: East Timor, Mozambique, Laos and Pakistan. The support is needed, as for example in Mozambique, where only four per cent of children have access to early childhood education.

In Pakistan, we are developing the quality of early childhood education in the provinces of Sindh and Punjabi, where the risk of natural disasters is also high. We give particular support to girls and other marginalised groups of children through the project. In Laos, we aim to make early childhood education more accessible for children in the northern part of the country and in remote areas as well as for children from ethnic minorities. Early childhood education is important, as it functions as the basis for the child’s entire future.

Every year, private persons, groups of colleagues, schools and day-care centres take part in Red Nose Day. Some events that have been organised in support of the campaign include, for example, a Red Nose Day water gym class, Red Nose Day brunch, a cake campaign in cafes and a Red Nose Day hockey game.

The Red Nose Day first originated in Great Britain in 1985, when entertainment performers and comedians wanted to help children suffering from the famine in Ethiopia. The campaign was brought to Finland in 2007. In addition to Plan Finland, the Red Nose Day foundation’s activity is supported by eight organisations and Yle (the Finnish Broadcasting Company) that supports the campaign with its programme activities.


Plan International Finland’s finances 

Plan International Finland’s total income for the financial year, EUR 16.2 million, was on par with the previous year. The amount of private donations and the funding for development programmes received from international organisations increased, while the amount of public funding decreased.

Plan International Finland’s total income for the financial year, EUR 16.2 million, was on par with the previous year. The amount of private donations and the funding for development programmes received from international organisations increased, while the amount of public funding decreased.

Overall, we didn’t quite reach the financial year’s income objective, falling short by three per cent. The changing of the funding agreement period hindered the implementation of programmes in target countries, which in accrual accounting affects the amount of recorded income in the financial period. In obtaining new institutional funding agreements we reached 80 per cent of the objective. Our results from private fundraising exceeded all expectations, while in corporate cooperation we fell short of the objective. The operational environment is expected to remain difficult in the future as well.

The total costs for the financial year amounted to 15.2 million. The combined costs of all operations of the entire foundation in Finland grew by three per cent from the previous year, the same amount that the expenditure budget was exceeded by.

Plan International Finland’s income
EUR 16.2. million

38.9% Sponsors’ donations
30.7% Support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
6.2% EU funding
1.9% Cooperation with businesses
22.3% Other donations and grants

Plan International Finland’s costs
EUR 15.2. million

74% Programme work
26% Other costs

The foundation’s result from the financial year exceptionally showed a surplus of EUR 994,000. The foundation’s board of directors deemed it necessary to define a special use for this large sum of unallocated estate plan donations, so at the end of the financial period, they were not allocated to already ongoing development programmes. In connection with confirming the financial statement, the foundation’s board of directors decided that the surplus will be used to fund humanitarian programmes in target countries during the next years.

Programme work’s share of the total costs totalled EUR 11.2 million or 74%, so during the financial year we did not reach our objective of an 80% share. This was due to investments in fundraising and related systems, which is already showing in increasing income from donations, and also due to the recorded income amounts of public funding that were smaller than budgeted. The third factor that affected the number was the surplus recorded in the financial year.

We allocated EUR 8.6 million (57 % of total income) of programme work costs to Plan’s international development cooperation programmes. We spent EUR 1.1 million (7 %) on the programme and technical support of international and national work, EUR 1.0 million (7 %) on national programme work and EUR 0.5 million (3 %) on advocacy work, development education and communications.

The costs of fundraising amounted to EUR 2.3 million (15% of total income). During the financial year, we implemented a new system for fundraising and customer management. The transition period lasted longer than expected, increasing the costs of fundraising and also slightly delaying the updating of the donator services.

The costs of the organisation’s communications, management and administration, finance and IT totalled EUR 1.7 million (11 %).

The 2015 balance sheet book and auditor’s report.

Plan International Finland’s income
EUR 16.2. million

38.9% Sponsors’ donations
30.7% Support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
6.2% EU funding
1.9% Cooperation with businesses
22.3% Other donations and grants

Plan International Finland’s costs
EUR 15.2. million

74% Programme work
26% Other costs

Capable personnel  and administration  behind the results

The diverse expertise and commitment of personnel and management ensured that Plan International Finland was able to successfully promote the position of children in developing countries. The role of children and youth in decision making was strengthened.

Our operations in Finland are managed by the foundation’s board of directors, and the Secretary General is responsible for day-to-day operations. Plan International Finland’s Secretary General is Ossi Heinänen.

During the financial year, the board of directors of Plan International Finland 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 and Pentti Sydänmaanlakka. The youth member of the board of directors 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.

In addition to our programme work, the involvement of children is reflected also in the values of our entire organisation and in the internal culture. During the operational period of 2015 we involved children and youth more strongly than before in Plan International Finland’s decision making, and the youth’s Mitä? network was given a permanent representative position on the board of directors.

The members of Plan Finland’s management team were Secretary General Ossi Heinänen, CFO Olli Jahnsson, Marketing Director Kirsi Mettälä, Head of Domestic Programmes Sanna Viitanen, Communications Director Anna Könönen, Programme Director Julia Ojanen and Director of Business Cooperation Susanna Saikkonen.

On average, Plan Finland employed 47 regular and 17 fixed-term employees during the financial year. In addition, an average of 8 employees were on study or parental leaves. The average age of employees was 40.3 years.

Most of the contracts were regular (72%). Fixed-term work contracts were mainly signed with maternal leave substitutes and project workers.

Our personnel committed to their work and threw themselves into Plan’s campaigns, like Red Nose Day and the celebration of the Day of the Girl.