Olivia Wilde has long been a champion of philanthropic causes, from starting the Academy for Peace and Justice in Haiti to co-founding Conscious Commerce, an e-commerce website that promotes the causes, brands, people and lifestyles affecting positive change in the world.
On Feb. 25, Wilde, currently starring in the HBO series about the ’70s music biz, “Vinyl,” is being honored at Variety’s third annual unite4:humanity event for her work as an artist ambassador for infant, child and maternal health at Save the Children. The non-governmental organization provides aid and support to children in both the U.S. and developing countries around the world. In 2014 alone, the non-profit helped more than 166 million kids.
“I felt very connected to the international mothering community throughout my own pregnancy and the birth of my son,” says Wilde, “and I realized I had won the lottery, so to speak, and how lucky we are to not be terrified of our child dying at birth or dying within the first three months of life.”
Wilde was introduced to Save the Children through friend and organization board member Jennifer Garner. “Every time I could take my son to the pediatrician it became clear to me that I was the luckiest person on earth,” says Wilde, “and I wanted to take that good fortune and continue to be active in that arena.”
Save the Children Action Network president Mark Shriver says the daily mortality rate is 16,000 children from preventable diseases and 800 mothers. “Olivia is going to help us work to get those numbers down to effectively zero,” he says. “We have some good programs in Guatemala and Central America. She also talked about seeing some of our work with Syrian refugees.”
Whereas many organizations squander the majority of their donations on overhead fees and staff salaries, Save the Children allocates 89% of all funds raised for its aid programs.
“I’ve seen a lot of waste in the aid world and Save the Children has a great reputation,” Wilde says. “Through their programs on the ground and their strategic efforts in legislation, they have been very effective for a long time.”