May 28, 2022

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The Best Way To Help Ukraine, According to Crisis Experts

5 min read

As the Russian military’s brutal assault on Ukraine continues, the need to help is increasingly incumbent upon us all. While the Ukrainian military has begun accepting international donations as a means to fund their defense, the unfolding humanitarian crisis has created an even more urgent need for support: Millions of civilians have been displaced from their homes, forced to shelter underground or flee the country. According to humanitarian-aid experts, the best way to help those impacted from afar is to give money to organizations providing critical aid on the ground.

“I do want people to understand that cash assistance is the most important way that we can help people,” says Amanda Morgan, Director of Emergency Fundraising at nonprofit Save the Children, which is distributing food, water, hygiene kits, psychosocial support, and cash assistance to Ukrainian women and children. “From there, we can use our expertise to determine how we get it to people in need, whether they have mobile phones or if a debit card is best, depending on how they’re going to be using it.”

“I do want people to understand that cash assistance is the most important way that we can help people.” —Amanda Morgan, Director of Emergency Fundraising at Save the Children

Giving money also ensures that your donation can actually make it to Ukraine and to the people in need—as many recent gifts of clothes, food, and other goods have run into logistical hurdles, like shipping disruptions and distribution issues.

“In the early days of a crisis like this one, even well-intentioned goods can create a secondary crisis, where the nonprofit teams are trying to sort through all of that, rather than using their time to get the supplies they need to respond in the moment,” says Sandrina da Cruz, Director of Disaster and Humanitarian Response at GlobalGiving, an online crowdfunding platform for charitable projects around the world. Its Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund is its current hub for all Ukraine-related donations, which Cruz’s team then works to distribute to local partner organizations (all of which are listed on the fund’s Project page).

The best way to help Ukraine right now, if you have resources to spare

Donate to a reputable international or local nonprofit

Making a monetary donation is the surest way to help, if you’re able to do so. But figuring out exactly where to donate in a time like this, when so many organizations have stepped up to offer support, can feel overwhelming. Your first and most important step is ensuring that whatever nonprofit you choose is a reputable one. Cruz suggests searching the Ukraine-focused lists provided by Charity Navigator and BBB Wise Giving Alliance, both of which are organizations that vet charities for accountability, reviewing key indicators like program expenses and project reports.

While you can certainly choose any of the major international humanitarian-aid nonprofits—International Rescue Committee, International Committee of the Red Cross, and UN Crisis Relief are sure bets—it’s also worth considering organizations based in Ukraine (and those with longstanding relationships with Ukrainian charities), says Cruz: “These local non-governmental organizations are doing a tremendous amount of work within Ukraine and also in neighboring countries that are taking in large numbers of refugees, like Poland and Romania.”

A couple of examples include Razom for Ukraine, a nonprofit born out of the Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity in 2014 (during which Ukrainians successfully ousted their former Russian-backed president, Viktor Yanukovych) and Voices of Children, a foundation that has supported the needs of Ukrainian children in Russian-backed separatist zones since 2015.

Donate directly to Ukrainians via third-party platforms

Last week, Etsy canceled all balances owed to the company by sellers in Ukraine on Etsy.com, Depop, and Reverb, and as of now, the company will continue to waive fees for Ukraine-based sellers open for business. Given that many of these folks have recently pivoted to creating digital products (like printable art and embroidery patterns) to get around current shipping difficulties, simply purchasing these items is one of the best ways to help individuals in Ukraine directly.

Similarly, you can also help Ukrainians who rent their homes on Airbnb by booking nights (that is, not to stay there, but as a donation) on the platform, which has temporarily waived all guest and host fees. In fact, from March 2 to 3, people around the world booked more than 61,000 nights at homes in Ukraine—for a total value of nearly $2 million—on Airbnb, which is also working to provide free housing for at least 100,000 Ukrainian refugees in neighboring countries.

The best way to help Ukraine, if you aren’t able to donate

Fundraise, fundraise, and fundraise some more. Because the singular best way to help Ukraine right now is through monetary donations, both experts suggest dedicating your time to start a fundraiser—even if it’s just a small one—if you don’t have money to spare.

“We’ve found that the most effective way to fundraise is to use social media,” says Morgan. “Some of the most successful fundraisers we’ve seen have been people offering to donate their birthdays, suggesting that their friends and family members give to a charity in Ukraine instead of buying them a gift.”

As is the case for many of the organizations providing relief efforts in Ukraine, both GlobalGiving and Save the Children have resources on their websites for getting started. “You don’t have to read loads of documents or even become super well-versed in what we’re doing; you can simply download the prepackaged information, and share it on social media,” says Morgan.

Another creative option is to tap into a personal talent to raise money—whether that’s by hosting a workout class or mini concert, or whipping up cookies for a bake sale—and then donate the proceeds. “In bringing people together, these types of events also serve a second purpose,” says Morgan. “They’re a helpful way for people to process what’s going on and to protect their own mental health and well-being as we all deal with the impact of this crisis.”

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