Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF has raised more than $195 million since it first launched back in 1950. But what began as a kid-focused donation drive looks very different in 2022. From QR codes to ghoulish filters for your Instagram story, UNICEF USA has reinvented its iconic Halloween campaign — harnessing the power of an increasingly digital world and the popularity of cashless payments to increase impact for children. UNICEF USA Chief Marketing Officer Shelley Diamond answers some questions.


SHELLEY DIAMOND: As we were gearing up for this year’s campaign, we knew we had to think outside the orange box. If we were to wholly reimagine Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF for a digital-native world, for a cashless society — to really take advantage of social media and the next generation’s savvy approach to making change in the world — how would we do it? For starters, it meant expanding beyond school-age kids, even going beyond Halloween night itself.

So we went bigger and we went broader. We have a fully-integrated campaign for 2022 that still invites kids along, but that also reaches Gen Z and Millennials, and it’s happening all October long — the same way that Halloween has now become its own season. We see this as a great opportunity to connect a new generation of changemakers to UNICEF’s mission

Trick-or-Treating for UNICEF helps provide warm winter clothes to children in need. Above, children displaced by conflict in Syria receive a shipment of winter clothes from UNICEF in February 2022. © UNICEF/UN0612169/Souleiman.

When I was growing up, like every other kid in elementary school, I would get a little orange box and people would drop coins into it on Halloween and I’d give it to my teacher and that was the end of it. There was that spirit of giving, but we didn’t really grasp the impact of what we were doing. The money raised through Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF supports critical work — the work UNICEF is doing every day to respond to emergencies like the war in Ukraine, drought and malnutrition in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, the child refugee crisis. It’s important to us that everybody who is a part of Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF understands the potential good they can do. 


SHELLEY DIAMOND: This year we have a QR code you can scan with your phone, that takes you to our website where you can do all sorts of things to get involved. You can learn more about what UNICEF is doing for vulnerable children and families globally, and you can donate or advocate in support of that work. You can also download and print out our Trick-or-Treat poster, use it to decorate your party space or your front door, or bring to a fall festival or other event. These posters have that QR code printed on them. There’s also a “canister wrapper” that fits nicely around an empty soup can, if you have trick-or-treaters going door-to-door, and you want to give people a choice — scan the code or drop some coins in the can.*

Going door to door on Oct. 31, seeing neighbors, having those interactions — that’s still a great way to participate in this campaign, not to mention an opportunity to spread the word about UNICEF. But no need to limit your fundraising to just Halloween night.

And to be clear, the digital experience begins with this QR code, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. And there’s flexibility — you can join in virtually, physically or both.


SHELLEY DIAMOND: We have a ghoulish filter on Facebook and Instagram that’s fun to play around with, where you’re in selfie mode, looking through a wide-angle lens, as if you’re looking through a peephole. You tap the button, smile and your face morphs into something scary. Parents should maybe check it out before letting the very little ones play with it.

We are also thrilled to have so many of our ambassadors joining us on this campaign. And we have influencers like Noah Beck helping to spread the word to his millions of TikTok followers with a fun costume contest.

A mother and baby participate in an early childhood development workshop organized by a UNICEF-supported community center in Chirrepec, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. © UNICEF/UN0642776/Willocq


SHELLEY DIAMOND: All Trick-or-Treat donations will go toward UNICEF’s core resources, which is an unrestricted general fund. This gives UNICEF the flexibility to channel the support wherever it is needed most at any one time. UNICEF will never stop working to create a more equitable world for children, one where every child is healthy, educated, protected and respected. 

*If you accept Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF donations in coin or currency, please mail in a paper check for the amount raised to 125 Maiden Lane, New York, NY, 10038 with “Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF” in the memo line. For more information, visit Every dollar is appreciated, every dollar can make a difference.

A few of the children UNICEF is reaching with critical services and support in the township of Omorate, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region, Ethiopia. © UNICEF/UN0649898/Pouget

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