It has only been a dozen days since an unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation upended a world order that’s stood since World War II, driving more than a million Ukrainians from their homes, and putting those who stay in harm’s way.
As the world witnesses what the U.N. says may be the greatest refugee crisis of the century, here are some of the ways philanthropy is stepping up, as nonprofits, foundations, corporations, celebrities and the crypto community respond to the human consequences of war.
Open Society Foundations founder George Soros has a lived experience of political intolerance, narrowly escaping the Nazi occupation of Hungary in his youth. For decades, his philanthropies have worked to build robust democracies and hold governments accountable to their citizens.
OSF has been actively funding in Ukraine since the end of the Cold War through the International Renaissance Foundation, its grantmaking arm there. The foundation responded to the latest threats by launching a new Ukraine Democracy Fund, which it seeded with an initial commitment of $25 million amid hopes that the philanthropic community will help meet the overall goal of $100 million.
The Ukraine Democracy Fund will advance three strategies: supporting civil society, advancing international efforts to defend freedom and independence, and protecting the human dignity of the displaced. Alex Soros, deputy chair of the Open Society Foundations, said, “As Putin tries to wipe the country off the map, we will do all we can for the people of Ukraine. We urge others to step forward and join us.”
Since the early 1990s, the Michigan-based Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has also supported civil society in Ukraine to the tune of more than $35 million, and remains committed as “the peaceful country faces down a hostile invasion.”
In-country grantmaking this year totals around $600,000, and centers on access to justice and support for internally displaced persons. Mott also reports limited legacy support for civil society organizations. A spokesperson said that while it has “not yet awarded new grants since the invasion,” the foundation is in conversation with current and past grantees and contacts on the ground to understand “when and where additional Mott Foundation support would be most useful.” All current grantees have been given whatever flexibility they need on grant requirements.
Bloomberg Philanthropies is standing with “the world in condemning the invasion of Ukraine,” by building on its 30-year history of support for the International Rescue Committee (IRC). Funding will help the IRC provide humanitarian support in Ukraine and beyond. World Central Kitchen also received a $10 million contribution to help serve hundreds of thousands of meals a day in and around Ukraine. Matches on Bloomberg employee contributions are also significant, and have already reached a half-million dollars.
As the crisis continues, established nonprofits with on-the-ground expertise in humanitarian and refugee work have quickly created targeted funds to support the displaced.
The IRC, which has been working to aid refugees since its founding in 1933 at the behest of Albert Einstein, is on the ground in neighboring Poland—already home to a large Ukrainian population—assessing the situation and the humanitarian needs that could arise as it receives hundreds of thousands of war refugees. Access information on its relief fund here.
The Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Recovery Fund is focusing on the humanitarian challenges facing vulnerable citizens, from resettlement to basic needs like water, food and protection against the harsh winter climate. As of March 3, CDP reported raising more than $750,000 from donors like the Patterson Foundation, the Qualcomm Foundation and the Truist Foundation.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), an agency of the U.N. dedicated to aiding and protecting the stateless and displaced, established a fund to support Ukrainians fleeing their homes.
CARE established a Ukraine Crisis Fund to address immediate humanitarian needs like water, food and hygiene, as well as psychosocial and cash assistance. It expects to assist up to 4 million displaced Ukrainians with a focus on the elderly, families, and women and girls. UNICEF also created a fund focused on protecting children.
Save the Children reported raising nearly $12 million across all channels to date, including nearly $1 million through an Instagram campaign.
Spanish-born chef José Andrés and World Central Kitchen is on the ground at the Ukraine-Poland border feeding refugees. While there’s no specific fund, general donations can be made on the organization’s website. Beyond whatever’s raised, Chef Andres committed to supporting work there with some of the funding he received from Jeff Bezos. In 2021, Andres won one of the Amazon founder’s Courage and Civility Awards, which came with $100 million to be distributed to organizations of his choosing. As the situation escalates, World Central Kitchen hopes to expand humanitarian operations to Romania.
Crowdfunding and crypto
Crowdfunding efforts to aid Ukraine have been active and robust. GoFundMe’s Ukraine Relief page feeds into a tax-deductible humanitarian fund that promises distribution to verified nonprofits providing relief.
Verified fundraisers include an effort to keep Kyiv independent that blew past its initial $75,000 goal and is now closing in on $1 million, and #helpukraine, an emergency appeal on behalf of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain that has attracted more than 28,000 donors and has nearly reached its fundraising goal of $1.5 million.
A Facebook fundraiser to provide medical aid and humanitarian support to people on the front lines has raised more than $3 million from 56,000 individual donors in its first 15 days, marching toward a goal of $4 million. The beneficiary is United Help Ukraine, a U.S.-based nonprofit that’s organizing donations of food and supplies to internally displaced people in Ukraine, or IDPs. Commenting on the Facebook page, United Help Ukraine said it expected to receive funds in about two weeks, based on prior experience.
That kind of lag may explain the pivot to alternative modes of giving. Cryptocurrency assets can quickly slip past borders and bypass roadblocks from financial institutions, and have become an important means of support. The Ukrainian government itself has posted pleas for cryptocurrency donations, and reports raising nearly $40 million so far.
After crowdfunding for Come Back Alive, a Ukrainian NGO that supports the military, was taken off sites like Patreon for violating policies against funding military activity, it returned through a new cryptocurrency collective, UkraineDAO. Created by a collaboration of crypto enthusiasts and the Russian protest band Pussy Riot, it’s now raising funds for less controversial purposes, like medical support for war victims.
Elliptic, the cryptocurrency and blockchain tracking company, reports that more than 100,000 crypto-asset donations have come from Bitcoin, Ethereum, TRON and Polkadot addresses, worth more than $56 million. The blockchain analytics company Merkle Science has reported that the top three destinations for that support are the Ukrainian government at $25 million, UkraineDAO at just over $10 million, and Come Back Alive Foundation, at $8 million.
Binance, the cryptocurrency exchange founded by the developer Changpeng Zhao, committed $10 million in aid through its foundation. Organizations receiving support include iSans, UNICEF, UNHRC and People in Need. The company also launched a “crypto-first” crowdfunding site that has already attracted the equivalent of $6 million from Binance toward a goal of $20 million.
Elliptic’s chief scientist and co-founder Tom Robinson also reported a donation of $6.5 million, representing proceeds from the auction of an NFT of the Ukrainian flag—the 10th most expensive ever sold. Proceeds will be donated to Come Back Alive.
Finally, Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of cryptocurrency trading platform FTX, wrote on Twitter that the company “gave $25 to each Ukrainian” on the platform.
Aiding the Jewish community
It’s no surprise that philanthropy is paying special attention to supporting Ukraine’s Jewish community, given the tragedies Ukrainian Jews have suffered in times of conflict.
Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG) has responded to crises facing Jewish constituencies and the threat of anti-Semitism throughout its history. The group announced $10 million in emergency assistance to vulnerable members of the Jewish community in Ukraine. Five million dollars in initial grants will go to the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) to support evacuation efforts, the Federation of Jewish Communities in Ukraine to support food security, and to regional and local Jewish community organizations. The remaining $5 million will support humanitarian aid needs “as the situation develops.”
The UJA-Federation of New York is providing up to $3 million in emergency funding to grassroots organizations that support the Jewish community in-country, like the American Jewish Joint Distributions Committee (JDC) and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI). Beyond responding to emergency needs like food and medicine, funding will help mobilize volunteer networks across the country and fund mobile medical units for the homebound.
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, which stands against anti-Semitism in all its forms, announced $1 million in emergency grants to long-time partners on the ground. The IRC received a half-million dollars to help the displaced, “many of whom are Jewish.” Two other organizations, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Agency for Israel, each received $250,000.
The American Jewish Committee has also established an emergency fund to support immediate needs for Ukrainian Jews who’ve been driven from their homes and those who’ve chosen to stay.
Gideon Hersher, a fundraiser with the JDC, reported raising nearly $18 million within eight days to support operations on the ground—a “stunning” response that’s still gathering steam.
Chabad, one of largest and best-known Jewish religious and humanitarian organizations in the world, reported spending $12 million to support the roughly 350,000 Jews it says were in Ukraine as the war began. “Almost all” of that was raised in the last week, and much of it came from New Yorkers rallying to help.
Corporations are taking a range of immediate steps to change the way they’re conducting business in Russia, while making humanitarian aid to Ukraine a priority.
Apple is a case in point. After CEO Tim Cook tweeted his own concern about the situation in Ukraine, he confirmed that the company had ceased product sales and other services in Russia, and then emailed all employees to announce a 2 to 1 match to qualified personal contributions, retroactive to February 28. Apple is also exploring other ways of supporting local humanitarian efforts and the growing number of refugees.
Other tech firms have also stepped up. Google.org and Google employees are contributing a combined $15 million toward relief efforts in Ukraine. Five million dollars in grants will be made through Google.org, with an equal commitment to the employee matching campaign. “Googlers” can apply for matches of up to $10,000 annually for Polish Center for International Aid (PCPM), UNHRC and the Red Cross. The balance will come in the form of pro bono advertising credits to humanitarian and intergovernmental organizations specializing in assistance and resettlement, like Save the Children and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.
Snap traces its beginnings to Looksery, a company in Ukraine that it has said “laid the foundation” for its augmented reality platform. Snap has helped more than 300 team members safely relocate while supporting those who remain and those who’ve joined the fight. On March 1, “Team Snap” stood in solidarity with Ukraine by pledging $15 million to humanitarian aid, which will go to organizations providing direct support on the ground.
After Netflix paused its production and acquisitions work in Russia, Chairman and CEO Reed Hastings announced a $1 million donation to Razom, which supports Ukrainian independence from abroad, and is now focused on providing emergency supplies to treat war injuries.
Amazon expressed “horror and concern” about the situation in Ukraine while pledging $5 million to organizations providing critical support. Partners so far include UNICEF, UNHCR, the World Food Program, the Red Cross, Polska Akcja Humanitarna, and Save the Children. Amazon has also committed to matching up to $5 million more in employee contributions.
Other industries are also showing leadership. The LEGO Foundation, the LEGO Group and the Denmark-based foundation Ole Kirk’s Fond joined forces on an emergency commitment of approximately $16.5 million dollars to the people of Ukraine. Funding will support general humanitarian aid with a focus on children. Partners include the Danish Red Cross for acute needs and mental support, Save the Children, and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The multinational transportation and delivery giant UPS committed an initial $1 million in funding and in-kind support to the region, which includes grants to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), CARE, UNICEF and UNHRC.
The Starbucks Foundation pledged a half-million dollars to World Central Kitchen and the Red Cross, to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.
General Electric and the GE Foundation announced $4 million in support for Ukraine and nearby countries. Four million comes from GE Healthcare in the form of in-kind donations of medical equipment like mobile X-ray machines and handheld ultrasound devices. The GE Foundation committed a total of $500,000 to two organizations: $400,000 to the IRC to provide refugees with emergency cash, and $100,000 to Airlink, a nonprofit that specializes in transporting emergency supplies to disaster areas. Employee contributions are also eligible for a match through its matching gifts program.
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky announced free short-term housing for up to 100,000 displaced Ukrainians. Stays will be funded through Airbnb, Inc., Airbnb.org and the Airbnb.org Refugee Fund. Interested hosts are invited to get involved at airbnb.org/help-ukraine. NPR reports that people have used Airbnb to make nearly $2 million in bookings they have no intention to use to put cash in the pockets of ordinary Ukrainians.
Several commitments have also come in from the financial services sector. For instance, JPMorgan Chase made an initial $1 million contribution to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to support the rising number of people who’ve been forced to flee Ukraine. That number is expected to grow as events on the ground change.
The Visa Foundation is supporting humanitarian efforts in Ukraine with a $2 million grant to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Employee contributions will also be double-matched, up to $1 million, to Red Cross and UNICEF response funds.
Wells Fargo and Bank of America each pledged $1 million to support the people of Ukraine. Bank of America’s support went to five groups: CARE, the International Medical Corps, Project Hope, IFRC networks and World Central Kitchen. Wells Fargo’s support has been directed to the American Red Cross, the USO and World Central Kitchen. Both will match qualified employee donations.
Allianz announced the intention to provide up to $13.5 million to humanitarian assistance and directed the first $1.1 million to the German Red Cross. It also earmarked up to $2.7 million to match employee contributions.
Paul Knopp, U.S. chair and CEO of the global professional services network KPMG, announced a $250,000 contribution to Global Giving’s Ukraine Crisis Fund, and urged others to join in their support. Accenture committed $5 million to nonprofits providing relief to Ukrainians being displaced into Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic. It is also matching employee contributions at 100%.
EFPIA, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, is tracking in-kind and foundation commitments from biotech and pharma.
Foundation commitments to Ukrainian humanitarian efforts include $1 million from the Pfizer Foundation. Beneficiaries include the American Red Cross, the International Medical Corps and the IRC, as well as an employee matching gift campaign with seven beneficiaries.
The foundation of French healthcare company Sanofi donated $5.5 million to the Red Cross for Ukraine and neighboring countries, the UNHRC and the U.N. Refugee Agency. The Novo Nordisk Foundation donated roughly $7 million to relief efforts, $700 million of which went to the UNHRC. And Merck donated $2.1 million to the German Red Cross, half of which came from the Merck family.
From the fashion world, Gucci donated $500,000 to the UNHRC as part of a long-standing Chime for Change campaign. Valentino also chose UNHRC as its partner and backed its work with $550,000. Adidas contributed $110,000 to organizations supporting refugees. And VVMH made its “first” emergency donation of $5.5 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross (UCRC) to support both “direct and indirect” victims. The Copenhagen-based jewelry company Pandora donated $1 million to UNICEF to support basic services.
Fast Retailing, parent company of the hip Japanese fashion retailer UNIQLO, pledged $10 million to the UNHRC, along with 200,000 articles of clothing and other items for people who were forced to flee.
Hollywood power couple Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds took to Twitter to pledge a dollar-for-dollar match on donations to the organization USA for UNHRC, up to $1 million. The nonprofit supports the U.N. refugee agency, and is already on the ground in Ukraine and neighboring countries protecting the interests of those forced to flee.
Bstrong, the philanthropic platform founded by the television personality and entrepreneur Bethenny Frankel, has raised $6 million for Ukraine. Its current mandate is relocating refugees, in partnership with Global Empowerment Mission. So far, Bstrong has established a welcome center on the Poland-Ukraine border that helps with travel and short-term vital necessities.
Author J.K. Rowling is personally matching all contributions to Lumos, the foundation she founded, up to $1.1 million, to support “some of the most vulnerable children in Ukraine.”
Ukrainian-born actress Mila Kunis and her husband Ashton Kutcher announced that they’ll match up to $30 million in donations to Flexport.org and Airbnb.org through a GoFundMe.com campaign. As of March 6, results were more than halfway there, topping $16 million.
“I was born in Chernivtsi, Ukraine in 1983,” Kunis said in a video. She came to America in 1991. “I’ve always considered myself an American. A proud American. I love everything this country has done for myself and my family. But, today, I have never been more proud to be a Ukrainian.”
Circle back here in the coming days for updates. And if you have news about philanthropy related to Ukraine, email us at email@example.com.