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Tim Tebow Foundation Birthday Fundraiser Raises Over $1 Million to Combat Human Trafficking

Ministry claims to have protected 2,000 victims and brought 500+ perpetrators to justice

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Last month, former football star Tim Tebow announced on Instagram that the Tim Tebow Foundation (TTF) was launching unKNOWN—a public campaign to generate $1 million towards combating human trafficking and child sexual exploitation by his 36th birthday.

Tim Tebow / Video screenshot

Tebow announced the campaign two weeks before his August 14 birthday—July 30, a date recognized and designated by the UN as the World Day Against Trafficking—and said his hope and prayer for his birthday was that people would “join together and raise $1 million” for the cause.

According to the unKNOWN website, more than two videos or images depicting child abuse are produced every second.

“There are more than 50,000 children’s images of sexual abuse sitting on a global database,” Tebow said. “Law enforcement can see them, but their identity and location are unknown. 50,000 children, that’s a city of children we need to find and protect!”

To date, Tebow’s fundraiser has raised more than $1.3 million.

The unKNOWN campaign is not the beginning of the foundations’ fight against trafficking, but rather a recent effort to make its mission public.

For over 10 years, Tebow said his organization has expanded its impact across 30 countries to create and operate 20 safe homes with 22 more in progress. The organization also claims to have protected over 2,000 victims while helping bring 500+ perpetrators to justice.

MinistryWatch reached out to TTF to ask how they brought justice to over 500 perpetrators and how they cared for the 2,000+ trafficking survivors.

“If we have included a perpetrator in our statistical accounting, it is because the efforts taken by these partners resulted in an arrest by law enforcement,” a spokesperson from TTF told MW. The organization also noted they do not take credit for law enforcement’s work but have made significant investments in supporting it.

“For example, through private-public partnership, we fund domestic task forces in five locations in the US, which consist of federal, state, and local law enforcement multi-disciplinary teams,” the spokesperson said.

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Although TTF says it cannot fund federal law enforcement, it can provide salary replacement for local sheriff departments and dedicated resources such as vehicles and technology for the task forces to investigate the crimes.

The foundation said it also provides international law enforcement allies funding through a partnership with the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) so international law enforcement can participate in training and operations.

When asked about the more than 2,000 survivors rescued, TTF said that though circumstances are unique to each victim, the foundation ensures a care network exists for each survivor.

Internationally, for abducted and trafficked children, the foundation’s team and partners work to reunite them with their families whenever possible, so long as their families are safe.

But when children are abused or exploited by family members, TTF said it works to provide services through protection centers and safe homes—even if they have to build or operate them.

“Our support ranges from full funding to build, providing financial support for operating expenses, and in some places, full operation by our team,” the TTF spokesperson said.

In the US, TTF’s federal, state, and local law enforcement partners work with social services and child advocacy centers to determine the best placement. The foundation operates five trafficking shelters in the US for adult survivors. The foundation told MW that survivors receive holistic care, shelter, education, medical treatment, and job training to help them recover, heal, and flourish independently.

TTF earns three stars and an “A” transparency grade in the MinistryWatch database, and a donor confidence score of 88. According to its last available 990 (2021), the foundation received $40 million but spent only about $13 million.

TTF told MW that in 2021, they invested roughly $22M in future capital projects, including building Rising Light Ridge, a ministry campus in the Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania.

In addition, approximately $8.8 million resulted from its year-end funding campaign, including an unanticipated $4 million gift on Dec. 29, 2021. “This blessing was a final prompting to initiate a change in our fiscal year to better equip us to deploy gifts that come in during the calendar year-end within the same fiscal year,” they said.

The foundation’s website says that due to private contributions specifically given to cover all management and general expenses, 100% of public contributions “go to reaching some of the world’s most vulnerable people and telling the story of how God is working in the lives of those we serve to invite others to join us.”

The unKNOWN campaign follows the release of Sound of Freedom, a film about human trafficking that drew over $45 million in July. The movie was based on Operation Underground Railroad, recently led by controversial leader Tim Ballard.

On August 31, TTF sent an update to subscribers to the unKNOWN campaign saying that over 11,000 people had “stepped up” to be a part of the unKNOWN campaign:

“Because of your giving, this birthday has not just been another day or another year. . . it has been an opportunity to rally together to serve some of the most vulnerable children in truly their darkest hour of need.”

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Jessica Eturralde

Jessica Eturralde is a military wife of 18 years and mother of three who serves as a freelance writer, TV host, and filmmaker. Bylines include Yahoo, Huffington Post, OC16TV.