Details 17:10 29 Jun 2021

Ukraine’s charity facts and figures: how it develops, how many Ukrainians donate, and what you need to know

And also, what forms does charity have, how much and with what frequency is it necessary to donate, and how does business join charity culture?

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Charity has existed in various forms and under different names for many millennia. Religious organizations took care of social problems, and in the modern form, it appeared in the late nineteenth century thanks to Andrew Carnegie, an industrialist of Scottish-American descent, one of the first philanthropists to set a kind of standard for modern charity. Over the past 18 years of his life, he had donated 90% of his wealth to charities, foundations, and universities. In 2017, the number of his donations amounted to 78.6 billion dollars. In 1889, he wrote an article entitled The Gospel of Wealth, which caused an unprecedented development of philanthropy among people like him.

A century later, much has changed, alternative forms of charity have emerged. Now not only individual philanthropists but also entire corporations are interested in charity. They realized that the interest in solving social problems creates excellent opportunities for PR and increases the level of satisfaction of company staff and gives the public confidence in their ability to achieve their goals at a relatively low price. This form of charity is called a socially responsible business.

In addition, anyone who wants to can become a philanthropist if they donate even a small amount to one of the crowdfunding platforms to help in the field that speaks to the heart of the donor, or otherwise help with talent, without spending money.

What directions does charity develop in?

The first UN program set out eight Millennium Development Goals, helped focus efforts on achieving them, and provided a valuable plan of action. There are now 17 such goals, the first of which is overcoming poverty. It's followed by overcoming hunger, health care, education, gender equality, access to clean water, and so on. Charitable assistance is part of fulfilling all these goals.

In Ukraine, distributing charitable assistance between goals is somewhat different. According to a study conducted by the Ukrainian Center for Public Opinion Research "Socioinform" commissioned by the Zagoriy Foundation, the most help is given to the seriously ill, 50% of investments. 18% of donations go to the army, 14% go to socially vulnerable groups, 13% are spent on religious donations and contributions for people with disabilities and psychological disorders.

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Every year, the Association of British Foundations compiles a rating that distributes countries by the amount of charity — CAF World Giving Index. According to the latest data, the first place in the ranking is occupied by the United States, and Ukraine is in 101st place. However, should we compare Ukraine with other countries?

It is believed that the country's place in the ranking depends on how "difficult" times are in this country. Polina Niukhina, director of the Ukrainian Foundation of Philanthropists, comments:

"When the war started in 2014, we quickly rose by 20 points. For a while, Myanmar was at the forefront because of the civil war, tsunami, and fever. I just don't understand why we need to be there in the first place, it's not the Olympics! Let's start winning in economic ratings, and then in charities," she said.

Why is charity becoming so popular?

A study conducted by the Deloitte consulting company showed that millennials around the world feel responsible for the problems of society. Representatives of developing countries, who once suffered from economic and social stagnation, are less optimistic.

More and more millennials are integrating charity into their daily lives, turning to friends and family for help in favor of certain initiatives. They are willing to pay more for a cup of coffee, pizza, or weekly purchases if they know these funds will go to a good cause. Millennials believe in individual charity in a non-traditional form, such as personal assistance, targeted social investment, and involvement in social processes. They will support social entrepreneurship, which uses market-based approaches to social problems, and believe that this is the most effective way to lift humanity out of poverty, rather than creating classes of people dependent on charitable donations.

Another study conducted by the World Economic Forum, which involved 5,000 millennials from 18 countries, found that the highest priority for millennials in any business is "improving society."

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How is this happening in other countries?

Charity, i.e. helping those who need it, is the same in all countries. However, there are differences in the culture of charity:

"It's hard to say how it differs in form because various countries have different cultures of charity. Our culture of charity is not yet fully formed, and trust is low. That's why we have a very popular format of private cards when we transfer funds to a person we know for sure. In the United States, trust in charities is much greater, so there I can transfer money through the platform," says Polina Niukhina. Ukrainian Anna Morozova, who moved to the United States, confirms almost the same, and explains in her column the difference between the culture of charity in the United States and Ukraine:

"Many Ukrainian charitable projects are aimed at helping patients in clinics or purchasing medication and medical equipment. In America, charitable foundations work at hospitals that cover the costs of those who need it. There's no drama around fundraising for a child's surgery for 200 thousand, as we have. The United States is raising money to educate children from low-income families, address drinking water problems in Africa, or fight polio," she wrote.

Even greater control by the state is in the UAE, where, in 2017, at the initiative of the President, a comprehensive plan was developed to institutionalize philanthropy in the public and private sectors. The strategy originates from the idea of ​​consolidating charitable activities and making the UAE the most philanthropic country in the world. Critics are now inclined to believe that having entered the list of philanthropic countries, the UAE is an example of the excessive influence on philanthropy by the state. Charitable organizations are included in the list: if the company or foundation is not on this list, it cannot provide charitable assistance or is forced to pay a commission of 30% to 50% for each transaction.

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What are the ways of becoming a philanthropist?

How we can engage in charity is becoming more creative. These are crowdfunding, charity subscriptions, and direct assistance without intermediaries through digital platforms.

  • Crowdfunding is an alternative approach to fundraising that has already proven to be an effective way to raise money, not only through deeper and more sustainable interactions with people but also through groups of people who want to be part of positive change in a more transparent way. Crowdfunding allows almost anyone with a computer and Internet access to quickly launch and spread a fundraising campaign for any social issue by directing money to the obtainer.

An example in Ukraine is the  dobro.ua crowdfunding platform, which raises funds for food aid, treatment, environmental projects, education, science, culture, sports, and more. You can choose the category that will "speak" to you on the main page, and then select a project and make a charitable contribution.

Another crowdfunding platform is Spilnokosht. The projects here are somewhat different: money is raised for larger social and creative projects, with a more serious approach to implementation. Some of the initiatives even send gifts for donations that one can keep in memory of a helpful deed.

Crowdfunding is particularly effective in emergencies, as it uses compelling stories, and often it is crowdfunding that helps those affected by natural disasters. Whether or not a campaign is popular depends on luck and media activity, emotional communication is usually a crucial component of success. The ability of people to feel like being part of a good cause and see how their actions bring about a dramatic change in society is crucial. Individuals and small groups of people can raise funds on their own.

Crowdfunding is often criticized for believing that this type of charity is not strategic. Critics of crowdfunding often call it "sofa activism" and argue that the results are too exaggerated, as the contributions of the vast majority of providers are irregular.

  • Instead, there are platforms where the charity can be issued as a subscription. Tina Mykhailovska, co-founder and head of the Ukrainian Charitable Foundation "Life Lover" of Garik Korohodskyi advises:

"The most useful thing for our fund, as well as for many others, is regular contributions monthly. This allows you to plan your activities and not depend on external factors. For example, if a person subscribes to charity on a regular basis, we know exactly how much we'll receive this month. We have something to start from. It's like a Netflix subscription. You just click 'Subscribe' and forget about it, and the system charges 50, 100 hryvnias or another amount convenient for you every month." 

  • However, charity through crowdfunding platforms and charitable foundations requires certain intermediaries. Although philanthropy without intermediaries has always existed as donations to people asking for help, with the advent of digital technology, the charity has become simpler, faster, and, most importantly, geographically unlimited.

A splendid example is Couchsurfing Travel App, where people in need can always find accommodation for free while in another city, and the "donors" in this case are users, providing this accommodation. Greater transparency, new technologies, and the ability to make small donations conveniently and safely have transformed the way charitable assistance is provided and improved the understanding of donors of how their donations affect change in society.

  • Assistance to foundations can also be varied. It's not always manifested in cash contributions.

For example, every Ukrainian knows about the Tabletochky Charitable Foundation. We've met their logo at least once, and many of us, directly or indirectly, have donated money to charity through this fund, buying certain products. For 10 years, the foundation has been helping Ukrainian families to beat cancer daily, and doctors to save the lives of children with cancer. You can contribute not only with money because the organization constantly needs volunteers of various specializations: designers, lawyers, photographers, translators, and people of other professions. You can also become a blood donor or take part in sporting events: fill out a questionnaire on the foundation's website and indicate what skills you have and what you'd like to help with.

Big business in Ukraine, engaged in charity, is the norm for many of our companies. Being socially responsible isn't just a trend, but a new branch of development for companies. For example, the ATB Corporation has been implementing joint projects with the Civil-Military Cooperation Department of the "Skhid" Operational Command, the Association of Wives and Mothers of Soldiers, ATO Participants, and ATO Veteran Unions: every month they hand over food for about 200 thousand hryvnias to the frontline and grey zone. In addition, ATB is developing a project "NOT someone else's fate," aimed at targeted assistance to the families of Ukrainian soldiers who lost their breadwinners in the anti-terrorist operation or found themselves in a tough situation. And that's not everything: the corporation also works with dozens of charitable foundations and NGOs assisting veterans, retirees, low-income citizens, large families, people in need of immediate treatment, medical institutions, and social care centers.

Charitable foundations are also helped by Rozetka, which has a "Help that is Needed" platform, through which charitable foundations and organizations from all over the country can buy goods to meet their basic needs on the Rozetka website at a special price.

There are plenty of examples. These are Ernst & Young, which takes care of orphanages, Hit FM radio station, which helps children with cancer, and LIGA Zakon, which cooperates with the International Charitable Foundation "Let's help!" and took part in the "Let's help babusya" campaign, attracting stylists who helped pensioners to change their appearance: change their hair for free, do make-up and manicure and feel young again.

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If you decide to contribute money, how much to donate?

"It's not enough" doesn't exist for charity. Any help, even one that seems insignificant to you, can save or at least improve the lives of more than one person.

For example, the usual 50 hryvnias, according to Tina Mykhailovska, co-founder of Lifelover Charitable Foundation, for a pensioner helped by the fund, it's food for a week; masks and gloves for two weeks so that they can walk down the street several times and minimize the risk of infection; medication for 3 days.

Maria Artemenko, the founder and head of the Dobrodiy Club Charitable Foundation, said that for an orphan, it's a school diary that will inspire a child to gain new knowledge at school and which, unfortunately, parents cannot buy; one safe trip for an orphan to a lesson as part of the Dobrodiy Club educational courses or a side dish for dinner or lunch for a child whose family is on the brink of survival because of a pandemic.

The Sirius Homeless Animal Shelter believes that 50 hryvnias are two full days for a cat, and the creator and founder of the Suka Zhizn charitable project, who remains anonymous, believes that for 50 hryvnias, you can buy a hot lunch for a homeless person, the opportunity to get in transport to the heating station for a few days or a pair of dry gloves and socks, which are really essential.

Donation rules: how to donate so that it's safe, and your money is spent as intended?

"It seems to me that millennials are more open, and they're digitalized. They want to talk about their good deeds. Older people have a saying 'Do a kindness, and cast it upon the waters,' and the younger generation has a slogan 'Goodness should sound loud.' Both have the right to exist," Polina Niukhina believes.

"Ukrainians are a highly empathetic nation. Really. Surveys are conducted annually, and I haven't seen the percentage of people who've donated at least once in the past year fall below 60%. In my opinion, it's a lot. And it's great that we're a charitable nation. On the other hand, our desire to sacrifice, and do it reactively, plays into the hands of fraudsters. Believe me, fraudsters know the sector much better than the Ukrainian Forum of Philanthropists, Dobro.ua, and all of us together. Because frauds understand that if they call in person and push, the person on the line will donate just not to feel guilty. Therefore, on the one hand, empathy is our happiness, and on the other hand, we sacrifice reactively, we're deceived and we stop donating," Polina explains.

Ukraine faces many challenges and one of them is the development of a culture of charity. First, it's public awareness development of charity ways and safety rules. Polina Niukhina singled out the following rules:

  1. Donating is right. You need to help people if they ask you to and if you want to do it.
  2. You need to know about the forms in which you can do it because you can help not only with money but also with talent. There are charitable photo stocks where you can upload your own photos, there are volunteer events, you can take an animal for a walk, it's also charity. That is, charity isn't always about money, it's about helping and what you can be useful for. If you are a designer, offer your services to a Facebook page of a social project, and the return will be much greater than if you throw 20 or 50 hryvnias, because here you're thanked 100 times, and you're tagged on Facebook. It feels completely different.
  3. If you donate money, you need to be aware of whether you care where it goes. Some people don't care, and that's okay too. But if you do care, it's really important to know what kind of organization it is and what kind of foundation it is, you need to find or ask to show the reports. By law, financial information doesn't have the status of confidentiality in a charitable organization. That is, we have to show all the financial documents on request. We don't have the right to provide personal data of our beneficiaries, such as sick children. But we're obliged to provide the financial data, how fundraising is happening. So if you decide to donate money, and if the reports are important to you, ask them at the beginning. If the answer isn't given, or you're told that it's not your business, it's alarming, because the documents may be wrong.
  4. You need to understand which organization the donation goes to. It's not always safe to donate to a bank account of an individual, because the account of an individual is easy to break, and money is withdrawn, unlike accounts of legal entities, where funds are better protected, and "withdrawing cash" at an ATM or cash desk without any documentation confirmations aren't possible. Lawyer by education, Polina Niukhina explains:

"Charitable foundations in Ukraine have a restriction: only 20% of income can be allocated for administrative expenses, and public organizations don't have such a restriction. They, even if they're called 'NGO Charitable Fund …' can spend 100% of the collected funds on themselves. Charitable organizations are created to engage in charitable activities, collect aid and redistribute. As charities often work with public funds, we're obliged to report, and it's the logic of the legislator: charitable organizations are created to do charity, and public organizations to protect the interests of their members (participants).


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