How to Help Ukraine

Like all of you, we have been watching the atrocities taking place in Ukraine with heavy hearts. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, since the Russian invasion into Ukraine on February 24th of this year, over two million refugees have fled the country. To put it into context, this startling number is larger than the entire population of Montreal. Of these two million, several are women and children who, in many cases, don’t know when they will see their loved ones again and have no idea where they will be spending the night. It goes without saying that these refugees, as well as those who are unable to leave Ukraine, are in desperate need of help. Before you reach for your wallet to make a donation though, we ask that you make an informed decision, as not all charities will provide the kind of help that is required. Here are some things to keep in mind as you look for a charity to make a donation to…

#1 Donate Money Over Stuff

Since the start of the war, several communities across Canada have come together to organize donation drives to collect a wide variety of needed items ranging from medical supplies to warm clothing. Although these donations are made with good intentions, unfortunately, they are not the best way to help. According to Charity Intelligence Canada (an organization that researches charities and aims to help people make informed decisions about where to donate), as much as these items may be needed, getting them to Ukraine is tricky. With ports and highways closing, getting trucks, trains and air shipments into Ukraine is very challenging so most of these supplies, unfortunately, aren’t likely to make it to the region where it is needed and may end up in landfills. For this reason, donating money directly to charities is preferable so that help gets to where it is needed most and quickly!

#2 Select a Charity with Close Ties to Ukraine

When donating money to a charity, it is important to ensure the charity of your choosing will send the money as close to Ukraine as possible and also as quickly as possible. Several charities will keep money for several years before sending it to people and organizations on the ground because they are looking to promote long-term development. This kind of charity can be useful to provide relief for other tragedies such as natural disasters but not for a full- blown war. With a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, it happens and then it’s over and it’s a matter of dealing with the repercussions after the fact. In Ukraine, help is needed now in order to save lives today so when you’re doing your research, be mindful of charities that use wording like “long term rebuilding” or “development,” which suggests that your money may still be sitting in a Canadian bank account five years from now. To ensure your money gets to Ukraine quickly, donate to charities that have established track records and already have people on the ground near Ukraine or with strong connections to Ukrainian organizations.

#3 Be Aware of Scams

As much as we would like to believe that we are all united in our prayers for Ukraine, the unfortunate reality is that there are those who are profiting from the war. There have been several reports of scammers taking advantage of the war to make a quick buck. To avoid this, again, donate to well-established charities with good reputations but also look for secure online payment systems. In addition, it’s also best to avoid giving cash to door-to-door charities and people canvassing in public spaces.

For us, UNHCR Canada was the charity of our choosing but there are many others that are also doing great work. For more information, please visit Charity Intelligence Canada to make an informed decision on where to donate.