As the Russian military invasion of Ukraine unfolds, many people want to help. Unfortunately, where honest people see a clear need for humanitarian aid, scammers see an opportunity for a quick buck.
In other cases, donations to charities and non-governmental organizations will not be able to make an impact quickly.
Here’s some advice for people seeking a charity that is both reputable and able to make an immediate difference in Ukraine relief efforts, based on tips from the Better Business Bureau’s nonprofit Wise Giving Alliance:
- Look for a charity that already has a presence in Ukraine.
- Vet charity trustworthiness using websites like the Wise Giving Alliance’s Give.org, or those of other nonprofits like Charity Navigator and CharityWatch.
- Know that clothing and food are impractical donations.
- Avoid groups that make claims like “100% will be spent on relief” — all legitimate charities deal with administrative expenses and processing fees.
The Wise Giving Alliance also provides a handful of BBB-accredited charities that are raising money for Ukraine relief:
- Catholic Relief Services (Give.org report)
- Direct Relief (Give.org report)
- GlobalGiving (Give.org report)
- International Rescue Committee (Give.org report)
- Save the Children (Give.org report)
USA Today has also highlighted the following groups:
- United Help Ukraine
- International Committee of the Red Cross
- Razom for Ukraine
- Sunflower of Peace
- Voices of Children
Additionally, on its official Twitter account, the Ukrainian government has provided a way to directly transfer money to support its armed forces.
Be cautious with crowdfunding and money transfer services
In addition to charities, social media has made it possible for individuals to raise money on their own. However, it can be hard to distinguish legitimate appeals from fake ones.
“Keep in mind that some crowdfunding sites do very little vetting of individuals or organizations that decide to post for relief assistance,” the BBB says. “It is safest to give to someone you personally know and trust.”
Some popular crowdfunding platforms may not be available in this scenario. For instance, Patreon reportedly has blocked donations that it deems might be used for violence.
Also be aware that people in Ukraine cannot receive money directly through PayPal. Requests to donate through that platform to Ukrainians are likely not legitimate, although groups based in the U.S. and many other countries can receive funds through PayPal on their behalf.