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Mar 14, 2022

How to Donate Money to Ukraine

There are plenty of ways to give, but do your research and avoid scams.

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As the war in Ukraine continues, you may want to give to charities or fundraisers that support humanitarian aid to that country.  Since February, nearly five million refugees have fled the Russian invasion, which has so far resulted in thousands of civilian casualties, and tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure damage to Ukraine.

People across the globe are coming up with creative ways to donate to Ukraine. Airbnb users reportedly booked 61,000 stays with Ukrainian hosts on March 2 and 3 of this year alone. Various GoFundMe campaigns have raised $20 million in aid for Ukraine in the past few months. And more than $10 million in cryptocurrency donations reportedly has poured in for critical supplies including gas, food, and equipment.

The impulse to give during times of crisis is natural. And even during the best of times, Americans like to give, donating a record $471 billion to charity in 2020. In fact, sensible giving can be worked into your budget. And charitable donations may also be tax-deductible, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Avoid Scams

But you want to give wisely. Some organizations have noted a rise in scams trying to take advantage of Ukraine donations, for example through fake charities and phishing, among others. Phishing is a way to extract personal information from people, typically by sending emails that appear to come from reputable sources, for fraudulent purposes.

Fraud is a big issue, with consumers losing nearly $6 billion to scams in 2021, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a government agency for consumer protection.

Here are some ideas for giving wisely:

  1. Do your research. Browse the website of your preferred charity for more information before handing over any money. Every reputable charity will also have a rating on a charity evaluation website, such as CharityNavigator, CharityWatch, and Global Giving. You can also check out the Internal Revenue Service’s Tax Exempt Organization search tool. Your donations to charities are tax exempt, and the tool lets you search on an organization’s eligibility to receive these donations. 
  2. Use credit cards or checks for donations, not wire transfers or gift cards, the FTC says. Scammers will often ask for a wire transfer or gift cards because they are hard to track. Credit cards may be your best option, as they provide a paper trail and extra protection, since they allow you to dispute charges, according to Fortune magazine. Legitimate charities will also give you more than one method for giving, other experts say. 
  3. Be suspicious of requests to donate on social media, even from friends’ accounts, the FTC recommends. If a link leads to an individual’s fundraising campaign, carefully consider whether that person can distribute the money effectively.
  4. Review your credit card and bank statements after you’ve donated to make sure the proper amount was deducted. 
  5. Give directly via the website of the charity you choose, other experts say. And if you plan to give through a crowdfunding site, consider platforms that scrutinize campaigns before they launch. GoFundMe says it vets all campaigns involved in fundraising for Ukraine, for example

In the meantime, Charity Navigator has compiled a list of charities helping Ukraine during the crisis. The list includes International Medical Corps, Save the Children, and Unicef. You can find the full list here

Jeremy Quittner is the editorial director for Stash.

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