Follow Matt’s unique insights, opinions and views on the Miklave Law Blog
(March 21, 2022)
As the Russian war on Ukraine continues, a growing chorus in the United States press for more ways to help the people of Ukraine. Many companies have already responded by limiting or curtaining operations in Russia. (A future blog will focus on the too many United States and international businesses that continue to support the brutal aggression either in the name of “profit” or the complacency which comes from being thousands of miles from the conflict.)
As the war continues, human resources and corporate leaders will be called on to do more to support their employees and families. A recent article published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) offered recommendations for companies to support workers impacted by the crisis. See The Ukraine War Is Causing Some Workers Severe Anxiety; Employers Can Help. Among other recommendations:
• Consider providing a channel for employees to contribute to reputable humanitarian assistance programs;
• Communicate with employees that it is okay to talk about their own anxiety and fears;
• Consider encouraging employees to limit their “doom scrolling;”
• Consider turning off television sets or tuning them to a non-news channel;
• Encourage employees to take advantage of employee assistance benefits; and
• Remind supervisors to be on the lookout for signs of anxiety, stress and other disruptive workplace behaviors associated with substance abuse and other issues.
For companies seeking to provide a direct mechanism to support the Ukrainian people, matters become pretty complicated, pretty quickly. Current military operations may make it difficult to get supplies or in-kind donations to the area or those in immediate need. If past crises are any guide, some disreputable actors will take advantage of the chaos to misdirect charitable donations. (Beware the employee who “knows a guy, who knows a guy” in Kyiv). Further, a search of charitable giving websites reveals a hotchpot of programs purporting to provide support. Some offer humanitarian and other direct assistance to refugees. Still others tout their ability to provide defensive military supplies to fighters.
Keep in mind that donors may not be able to earmark cash donations to Ukraine assistance and most reputable organizations may use at least some percentage of donations to cover administrative costs and overhead.
Companies may wish to set up a screening program for direct giving opportunities. Companies may also wish to clearly communicate the limitations and any “strings” to planned giving. And be ready for questions if your company provides for increased support for family members of Ukrainians, but not Afghans, Somalis, or the victims of non-European conflicts.
For those seeking more immediate and direct assistance, in a recent opinion piece in the New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman pointed out surprising ways people can provide support. As Friedman notes, in just two weeks, people from 165 countries used Airbnb to directly book 430,000 nights in Ukraine (generating $17 million in donations) and 36,000 people in 160 countries used Airbnb.org to offer places to stay to refugees.
If seeking to book an overnight stay in Ukraine, Expedia helpfully warns that conditions in Ukraine are “unstable” and travel may be “affected.” Some Airbnb posts are more direct: “Don’t book to stay, money go on army support” (sic.)
Below is a partial list of some organizations advertising their support for the people of Ukraine.
By providing this information, this blog and its author are not endorsing or recommending the organization.
Donors should exercise due diligence before contributing to any organization.
UNICEF — https://www.unicefusa.org/war-ukraine (Note: The website claims that 88 cents out of every dollar goes to direct support of humanitarian missions.)
United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) – https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/about-us.html
World Food Program (WFP or UNWFP) – https://www.wfp.org/ See most recent report on Ukraine Food Assistance
International Committee of the Red Cross — https://www.icrc.org/en/donate/ukraine
American Red Cross – www.redcross.org. For an excellent discussion of limitations on in-kind donations and volunteers, see https://www.redcross.org/about-us/news-and-events/news/2022/ukraine-red-cross-delivers-aid-to-families.html
Save the Children — https://www.savethechildren.org/us/about-us/
Polska Akcja Humanitarna — https://www.pah.org.pl/o-nas/
Ukrainian American Coordinating Council — https://uaccusa.org/.
The Ukrainian American Coordinating Council seeks inter alia in-kind and monetary donations for body armor and other defense military supplies to be delivered to Ukraine fighters. (Partners with Come Back Alive Foundation to deliver materials. https://www.comebackalive.com/who-is-ryp/)