The invasion and its tragic aftermath are evolving rapidly. If you’re thinking of giving money, here is some practical advice to help ensure it delivers the maximum benefit to those in need.
With every day that's passed since Russia’s shock invasion of Ukraine, the awful human consequences have become more apparent. For many of those watching events from afar, the first impulse is to offer help. But how can you best target your support?
The biggest needs are arising from mass migration. More than one million people have already fled Ukraine and the number is predicted to rise to five million, according to UNICEF. There is also significant internal migration within Ukraine, as large numbers seek to escape cities.
Right now charities need vital basics including food, sleeping bags, medicine and clothing. But other forms of help are also required: advice on asylum procedures, for example, psychological support and assistance in connecting with family members, the ability to transfer money and safe transport.
While no one can predict how this war will unfold, it's expected that yet further forms of help will be needed in weeks and months ahead: more permanent infrastructure is likely to be one requirement, for example, for longer-term accommodation.
Double your impact
Cazenove Capital will match client donations from portfolios to the Disaster Emergency Committee Appeal, up to our budget. Please contact your portfolio director to facilitate the donation.
• Who do you want to give to? Do you want to give broadly, or to specific groups disproportionately disadvantaged by the crisis? History suggests that where wars drive mass migration, it is children and women who are most severely impacted. Save the Children estimates more than seven million children are at risk.
• Set a budget, as this will determine whether you support one or many different organisations. If funds permit, split this into two parts: a contribution toward a rapid-response strategy, and some funding for the longer-term implications of the crisis as the consequences unfold.
• Give money rather than goods. As airports are closed and transportation systems come under pressure, the arrival of goods can strain the situation on the ground. In addition, charities working in the country have a greater understanding of the standardised emergency relief goods that people need and which can be sourced locally.
• Most importantly, trust your instincts. Any amount given now to any cause will make a difference as the need is so widespread and urgent. Speed over perfection is important.
The following is a shortlist of charities working on the ground to support refugees and other victims of the conflict. It is not exhaustive and will be updated in the coming days.
If you're a UK donor, before identifying charities you wish to support, check whether the charity is a member of the UK Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC). By choosing a DEC cause, your donation will be matched by the UK Government up to a set limit - read below for more details.
International Rescue Committee rescue-uk.org
Focuses help on displaced families working with partner organisations in Ukraine and Poland.
British Red Cross (funding Ukraine Red Cross)* redcross.org.uk
Offers frontline support (food, shelter and emergency healthcare). It also helps rebuild damaged hospitals and housing, and supports firefighters and other emergency responses.
Caritas Ukraine caritas.org
Coordinates local groups, in particular helping internally-displaced people find food, shelter and transport.
Focuses on displaced people globally. Has a team in Poland which includes those with experience assisting in the Yugoslav wars. Deals with immediate problems as well as helping migrants with “what to do next”.
Save the Children savethechildren.org.uk
Is focusing on immediate needs of winter kits, food, medicine as well as looking ahead to meeting needs of longer-term accommodation and education.
Medicin Sans Frontiers* msf.org.uk
Offers medical assistance and distributes medical kits within Ukraine. It has teams in Russia, Belarus and elsewhere in the region
CARE International careinternational.org.uk
Is partnering with People in Need which has people in Lviv and elsewhere giving immediate assistance including food, nappies, sleeping bags to people both there and at Ukraine’s borders.
Choose love* Choose.love
Using its network to distribute immediate basic support as well as legal support, support for the LGBTQIA+ community and mental health support.
Is coordinating refugee response with other UN agencies and organisations and is present in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Moldova and Romania, with field staff at many border-crossing points.
Working with UNHCR and others to ensure basic support is available for refugees. In particular focusing on safe spaces for families including psychosocial support for mothers and children and protection for unaccompanied or separated children.
*Schroders has made a corporate donation to the Red Cross and is also supporting a broader range of charities through matched funding.
Larger donors sometimes impose restrictions on how their gifts can be used. We firmly believe in providing unrestricted funding to the charities you decide to support, especially as now in times of urgent need. Most charities’ staff are fanatical about improving the lives of the beneficiaries they serve. They know best where your money will have the most impact.
If you are already funding charities, consider removing any restrictions you may have made in the past and give the charities breathing room on reporting requirements.
While innovation is important, funding tried and tested organisations in times of crisis is normally the right thing to do. There are a number of rapid emergency response funds which have been established in the UK and internationally, acting as a conduit to direct capital to areas where it is needed the most and at speed. These funds draw on experience of previous disaster relief efforts.
For UK-based donors, it’s worth looking at the Disaster Emergency Committee, or DEC, which brings together 15 leading charities to raise and distribute funds and help at times of extreme need. The principle is that it pools resources and is more able to make an immediate impact.
On March 2 the UK Government announced it would match donations through DEC up to a limit of £20 million. Even without the matched funding, DEC offers donors a useful mechanism to direct their support.
While speed is of the essence, ensure that the charity you are supporting is legitimate. Check this via the Charity Commission website (or the equivalent in the country you are donating).
Here you will find information on the charity including its finances and board members. Take extra care with newly established charities.
Sadly, charity scams including organisations purporting to be the WHO are already operating. Larger benefactors who are using a Donor Advised Fund structure will be able to take comfort in the knowledge that the required due diligence will have been undertaken by the trustees.
Need further help?
For those planning to make large gifts and establish their own, longer-term response fund there are a number of advisers who can help. Please do let us know your plans as we can help find you the expertise you need from a number of philanthropy advisory organisations.
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