Helping Ukrainian civil society meet urgent needs during and after the war
Ukrainian civil society received a significant boost in 2014, when the need for charitable assistance increased sharply during the Revolution of Dignity as well as after the occupation of Crimea and the start of the war in eastern Ukraine. NGOs and charitable foundations have since proven to be an effective driving force for coordinating aid and meeting civic needs, which has helped catalyze the institutionalization of the social sector in Ukraine. Today, there are more foundations that can work efficiently and systematically, and as we have seen since the start of the war in February, civil society is able to quickly adapt to new conditions to meet current challenges.
For example, a few days into the current war, the Alexey Stavnitser Foundation, together with relevant government ministries, the armed forces, and representatives of Ukrainian businesses, set up a warehouse in Poland to collect medicines and humanitarian aid from abroad. A few days later, the executive director of the Olena Pinchuk Foundation, who helps with the coordination of aid procurement, joined the initiative as a volunteer. And thanks to the cooperation of the Ernst Prost Foundation, the warehouse can now accept payments from all over the world and buy supplies abroad.
Volunteers regularly collect information on the needs of the military and civilian populations and publish them on the initiative’s website, and volunteer buyers purchase those necessities and send them to the warehouse in Poland. Then Ukrainian businesses (ROZETKA, Nova Poshta, TIS) send the cargo to Ukraine along a green corridor -a humanitarian corridor established to allow for the evacuation of civilians. Finally, representatives of the Ukrainian armed forces, the Ministry of Health, and the President’s Office distribute the delivered aid.
Charitable Foundation Zaporuka, which supports families of children with cancer and creates conditions for those families to be together during treatment, evacuated 16 children with their families to Italy. When these children, who needed urgent surgery and chemotherapy, came under rocket fire, Soleterre Onlus, a partner foundation in Italy, organized two medical planes that took the children with their families from Poland to the best clinics in Italy.
Perspective 21–3, which provides the conditions for people with Down syndrome, autism, and other intellectual disabilities to live full and dignified lives, also pivoted its activities during the war. The organization had to temporarily suspend its Center for Social and Labor Adaptation, which prepared students for work and independent living, helped them find a job, and accompanied them at work. The foundation is currently organizing assistance for the evacuation of families with children with disabilities and seeking and delivering medicines for those children in Brovary. Cafe 21.3 and Dutch Bakery 21.3 are social enterprises that employ people with disabilities and help them acquire the necessary skills. Now, on the basis of these enterprises, together with Zeelandia Ukraine, the foundation cooks food for those in need and those securing the territorial defense of the city.
As in 2014, the sharp increase in the need for assistance was felt not just among charitable foundations but among the entire population. The war led to increased volunteerism and financial donations, both directly and through public and charitable organizations. Thus, in one day, Ukrainians donated UAH 20 million ($672,268) to Come Back Alive, which works to address the needs of the Ukrainian army.
How to support Ukraine now
Along with the increase in volunteer activity and volume of donations, the need for systematization and coordination has also grown. Not only do people who wish to help often face the dangers of fraud and unverified information, but limited knowledge about the activities of charitable organizations can lead to mismatches between the assistance provided and the real needs on the ground. Lack of coordination can make it impossible to know whom to help and how.
It is difficult for organizations to identify current needs, which are constantly changing, in real time, and the lack of ties with peer organizations prevents them from redirecting excess assistance to where it’s needed. That’s why the Zagoriy Foundation team decided to help organizations that are saving lives, organize their work, and coordinate requests for help.
We are currently collecting information on, systematizing, and prioritizing the needs of our grantees and other organizations in Ukraine that effectively and transparently address pressing issues. By attracting help from our partners in Ukraine and abroad, we efficiently allocate funds and help meet urgent needs. We also continue to work on our Media of Great Stories page- available in English and Ukrainian-which aims to raise awareness of charitable organizations and the work of the sector as well as gather relevant information on how to help Ukraine during the war.
No matter what happens, we believe in Ukraine and its growing civil society. We are all working together to strengthen and promote charitable assistance among all Ukrainians, including after the war.
If you wish to help civil society organizations in Ukraine, please contact Eugenia Mazurenko, CEO of Zagoriy Foundation, at email@example.com.
Svitlana Bakhshaliieva is international partnerships manager at Zagoriy Foundation in Kyiv. She deals with international communications, coordinates cross-border initiatives, and shares the best philanthropic practices in Ukraine and abroad.
Find more articles in Philanthropy News Digest about philanthropy’s response to the war in Ukraine.
Find more updates and resources on Candid’s special issue page on the philanthropic response to the war in Ukraine.