How tiny, volunteer nonprofit raised $57 million for Ukraine

Kateryna Terekhova proudly exhibits off the brand new shelter she has created inside an deserted schoolhouse in Zakarpattia, Ukraine, an space close to the border with Slovakia, Romania, and Hungary. Over a video name, she factors out the separate communal rooms for males, girls, and households. The handfuls of beds have model new mattresses and linens. The loos and showers are new, too. She loves the kitchen, which churns out three free meals a day for residents.

Individuals lounge on beds; a woman is scrunched up on a bench within the eating room, watching her cellphone. Exterior it’s quiet on this rural space — a comparatively protected reprieve for individuals who have fled the fear of the Russian invasion.

Terekhova fled right here herself along with her prolonged household from Kyiv within the opening days of the battle and nearly instantly started engaged on methods to assist. As quickly as she noticed the schoolhouse, she knew it might make an ideal shelter. However it might require work — it had been empty for 4 years and had no plumbing or central warmth.

She was a part of a chat group with IT Troops, a bunch of Ukrainian know-how staff and entrepreneurs who assist get provides to troops and fund humanitarian work. They put Terekhova accountable for their humanitarian efforts. The group had been in touch with Razom for Ukraine, a U.S.-based charity run by Ukrainian and Ukrainian American volunteers.

Over a video name with a few of Razom’s board members, Terekhova defined the undertaking and supplied anticipated prices for supplies — she had already raised the funds to cowl the discounted labor and ongoing bills like meals. Three days later, she received a message from Razom congratulating her on her grant for $28,000, sufficient to cowl all the supplies.

“It was completely surprising,” Terekhova says. “It was occurring so quick. It was simple as a result of we completely perceive one another.”

Razom has made greater than $3 million in grants to 98 small humanitarian efforts like this one since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. The nonprofit’s deep ties to Ukraine have helped it join with grassroots efforts that might probably be neglected by large support teams. The tiny, volunteer-led group is now working at a frantic tempo. Every single day, its leaders and volunteers know that the work they do can imply the distinction between life and dying for somebody in Ukraine.

For many of its eight-year historical past, Razom raised about $150,000 a yr to assist promote a free and affluent Ukraine. Earlier than the battle, it had about 4,000 donors. However within the months for the reason that invasion, Razom has raised $57 million from greater than 150,000 donors. It has already spent $38 million on humanitarian reduction efforts. Considered one of its main initiatives: shopping for provides to assemble and ship tactical medical kits to Ukraine. The group has despatched 62,000 kits to date — with extra to come back.

Razom has outraised some giant, well-established humanitarian support teams. Venture Hope, a world nonprofit that’s coaching medical professionals in Ukraine on trauma care, has acquired greater than $21 million for the disaster.

“To boost $57 million for Ukraine and to have the ability to program such a big quantity, that’s actually implausible,” says Venture Hope CEO Rabih Torbay.

Whereas Russian troops have been amassing on the border, Razom’s board determined that within the occasion of an invasion, it might deal with medical help. The group started shopping for provides to create tactical first-aid kits that embrace vital provides like tourniquets.

Medical professionals volunteered to vet the provides to ensure they have been the precise kind and high quality. Groups of volunteers put the kits collectively in a New Jersey warehouse. Volunteer software program builders created a system to trace the kits so the group is aware of the place they’re within the transit course of and once they arrive at their vacation spot in Ukraine. Companies helped them discover house on cargo planes for his or her provides; a delivery firm helped with logistics.

Shipments which may have taken months took simply days. Gradual shipments could possibly be lethal, and volunteers have been working across the clock.

“That is our nation and our folks,” says Dora Chomiak, Razom’s president. “We wish to make it possible for they’re alive and that there’s a nation to come back again to and there’s a rustic for our kids and our grandchildren.”

Dealing with the wave of donations has been as sophisticated as delivery provides. When the group was based, it tracked donations on a web-based spreadsheet. But it surely quickly upgraded and put programs in place to course of donations given on-line and thru social-media channels. That made an enormous distinction when Russia invaded and cash poured in.

Maria Genkin, a board member who till this yr principally organized cultural occasions, took cost of the fundraising operation. She had labored in investment-banking know-how at Goldman Sachs. In late February, the group began getting a whole lot of emails a day asking learn how to give, about wire-transfer info, and different questions — far a couple of individual may deal with.

Fortunately, the group additionally received requests daily from folks trying to volunteer. Genkin checked the backgrounds of some volunteers to create a trusted workforce to assist potential donors, course of incoming funds, and sort out the info entry required to trace donors. She ended up with a workforce of six or so volunteers, together with some Ukrainian college students from close by New York College.

Razom has acquired some high-profile donations: Tipper Gore, Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings, and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey every gave $1 million. The New York Jets donated $100,000.

This summer time, 27-year-old Razom board member Maryna Prykhodko traveled to Kharkiv to evacuate her aunt and uncle and produce them to the USA. Every night time, as missiles fell from the sky, they huddled in her aunt and uncle’s closet for security.

“I noticed the destruction with my very own eyes. You crawl out of your hiding place within the morning. You exit into the road, and also you see {that a} new constructing has been destroyed,” Prykhodko says. “I used to be experiencing what Ukrainians had been experiencing.”

She visited the warehouse the place Razom shops provides once they arrive in Ukraine. There, volunteers take requests from hospitals, first responders, and army models. About 20 drivers then take the provides all around the nation.

Whereas there, she traveled with one of many teams Razom funds to ship support to small cities close to the border with Russia that had been liberated only some weeks earlier after months of occupation. The locals she met have been principally individuals who couldn’t simply flee: They have been aged or disabled or had younger youngsters. They didn’t even flinch on the close by shelling, Prykhodko says. Some have been residing in houses that had been destroyed aside from a single room and lacked a kitchen or lavatory.

“There’s a missile protruding of their home, and so they don’t have a roof over their heads, however that’s what they’ve left,” she says. “They’re all traumatized.”

Chomiak, Razom’s president, says the group is already planning for the longer term. “As soon as the bombing stops, there’s going to proceed to be a number of work to do.”


This text was supplied to The Related Press by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Jim Rendon is a senior author on the Chronicle. Electronic mail: The AP and the Chronicle obtain help from the Lilly Endowment for protection of philanthropy and nonprofits. The AP and the Chronicle are solely chargeable for all content material. For all of AP’s philanthropy protection, go to

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