Guys, I'm Ukrainian and I want to help my country's defenses, got a network of people abroad that want to donate funds, but I don't know where best to direct them to, which cause: military equipment / medicine / other. I'm reaching out to our local funds but they're overloaded rn so might take a while to respond.

Does anyone have experience with the efficiency of donations in the times of war?

Can you point me to the right people / literature?

Thank you!

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Unfortunately EAs rarely think about helping during war, because it's difficult to find cost-effective interventions in a war zone (I think the best time to help was before the invasion started.) The Ukraine situation is especially sad to me, because European countries (or the US) did not offer to directly defend Ukraine before (or after) Putin made his veiled nuclear threat. But I encourage EAs to think about this today, offer ideas, and share relevant news stories and names of trustworthy blog posts and analysis (with summaries).

I wonder about the issue of how  cost-(in)effective current interventions really are - it's true, that current interventions in the war zone can seem cost-ineffective in terms of immediate help to affected populations, however there is one larger game at play - Russian Federation's (and Belarussian) aggression against Ukraine effectively demolished the current peacekeeping balance in Europe and across the world, and it seems that responding to worldwide defence challenges in case of Russian victory can be much more costly and time/attention consuming, than in case of Ukrainian victory, see a possible analysis here:

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/ukraine/2022-02-18/what-if-russia-wins

Therefore, it seems to me (curious to hear your thoughts), that supporting Ukraine's defence/humanitarian response, even if seems less cost effective at the face value than other possible EA actions, can actually save a lot of money/time/attention in the long-term perspective (not sure how to quantify how it exactly measures up to other existential risks etc., but my first reaction is that with new Cold War going on in case of Russian victory, responding globally to any other existential risks will be much more complex and difficult - however, how one's indivitual contribution/donation plays into all of this is one tricky question).

5Valmothy5mo
Michael, I'm very much biased but that's a brilliant point: aggression can't be tolerated and normalised
3dpiepgrass5mo
I do worry about the Free World's response not being strong enough, and I'll be donating to some kind of Ukraine cause regardless of effectiveness. Still, I'm frustrated about not seeing an effective intervention. I'm in Canada btw, and the government is matching all donations to the Canadian Red Cross specifically, but the Red Cross has a "low impact" rating from Charity Intelligence [https://www.charityintelligence.ca/charity-details/71-canadian-red-cross]. Hmm. Plus, Canada has generous tax deductions for donations to Canadian charities, so I'll probably dump some money in the CRC even as I doubt its effectiveness. I worry about follow-on effects. The more easily Putin succeeds in Ukraine, the more Xi Jinping might think he can succeed in Taiwan. The West may have enough resolve to sanction Russia, but sanctioning China would be much harder and many/most countries will be very tempted to defect. If Taiwan is invaded, the free world may weaken and the chance of World War 3 will increase. This historian analysis [https://acoup.blog/2022/02/25/miscellanea-understanding-the-war-in-ukraine/] that I linked above encourages people to demand strong sanctions (I'm glad to see the SWIFT banhammer brought out btw): Sanctions work much better when everyone acts in unity (though we can assume China will not participate). It concerns me the most that India abstained from supporting the UN resolution against Russian aggression, and has not announced sanctions, and isn't acting even mildly bothered about the invasion AFAICT. But again, I'm not sure EAs have any leverage here beyond the standard "call your representative". (Best case scenario: sanctions and Ukrainian resistance are severe while Russian military morale is low; Putin reconsiders, and to save face moves all forces to Donbas, claiming that the invasion was a cover and that Donbas was the real target all along. An unlikely outcome, but if anyone can pull that off that pivot, Putin can.)

Here's a recent announcement from MSF concerning their operations in Ukraine:

The drastic escalation of conflict in Ukraine has led Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to make the painful decision to halt our normal medical activities in the country.

Immediately before the escalation, we were in contact with several hospitals in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions to provide training in emergency medicine and surgical preparedness, and yesterday our team provided one mass casualty kit, with supplies for treating traumatic injuries, to a hospit

... (read more)
1dpiepgrass5mo
I interpret that as "we are no longer operating in Ukraine", so modified my post.

thank you @dpiepgrass! the point about spreading out instead of focusing money on the same orgs makes a lot of sense, I've made my company do just that and I'm spreading out my money as well.

 

another thing I hope I can help my people with is spreading information and generating as much support from other countries as possible


 

Hi, Valmothy! I'm Nina, and last year I started an EA community in Kyiv. Have been organizing a lot of stuff and asking myself the same kind of questions for the last three days, let's combine our efforts! You can find me on EAhub, there are links to different social media: https://eahub.org/profile/nina-antonyuk/. 
Please write to me! Be safe!

Hi Nina, great to meet you, I'll ping you shortly

Hey Valmothy. I don't know the answer to your question but if you or your friends or family are in Ukraine and need help getting out feel free to signal me on +64212129849. I can put you in touch with some folks who might be able to help (info, support if you cross into Poland, $).

Really appreciate your support @cafelow! Gotta say I'm tearing up a lot these days.

My friends are mostly moving to Western Ukraine. Hope that's safe enough. If I'll learn of someone crossing the boarder, I'll ask for assistance - thank you!

Great question! I am upvoting!  Also just want to say that I am very sorry that Ukraine is left alone and as a Polish citizen (now living in London) I will try to help in whatever capacity I can. My friends are already helping in Poland with transport and housing for refugees. We stand with Ukraine! We are very sorry that the World is just standing and watching this, we hope there will be more sanctions and weapons delivered soon. 

And yeah I join your problem - also not sure what are the best opportunities to donate to. So far I supported Polish Humanitarian Action, because they already were helping in Ukraine, so they know organizations on the ground, and they are respected and trustworthy (they helped in many war zones since 1992, including Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or Chechnya). However, I would like to donate to a Ukrainian organization but it's hard for me to understand where is the best place to donate.

I will however support Ukrainian refugees directly. Either with money, transport,  or housing in London if needed. 

All the best to you! I hope your friends and family are safe! 

Thank you Ula. Polish people are helping us so much, an incredibly inspiring example of human connection.

Appreciate your desire to help! As for the trustworthy Ukrainian charities, here are a few any Ukrainian can vouch for: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6902645848933810176/
(hope it's okay I post a link?)
 

Do you know if there are any orgs in the UK housing Ukrainian refugees?

2Valmothy5mo
there's a crowdsourced guide on this but it doesn't mention housing aid in the UK: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ebXPKnF_krrfkpjF4dHKhJ3YYzYVpg8w-JAG91yLxdc/edit#

I've submitted a very rough draft of how we could profile charities (and perhaps other organizations) to get a feel how they contribute:

https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/gacpE79RKke2foG9K/rough-attempt-to-profile-charities-which-support-ukrainian

I appreciate your feedback, I'd be happy to get this ball rolling.

1 Related Questions

1Answer by acylhalide5mo
If you really want to commit time to this, you could consider advising OpenPhil or EA funds on divestment with their funds. There is a case for doing it, they just haven't done it yet. And funds of their size can make a lot more impact for not significantly larger amount of work.
2Answer by finm5mo
My guess is that divesting your private investments isn't going to be an especially leveraged/impactful way to address the situation, and that you might consider spending the time you would spend researching this might be better spent finding direct donation opportunities, and sharing the results. But don't put a lot of weight on that. This is a good analysis [https://sideways-view.com/2019/05/25/analyzing-divestment/] of divestment in general.
9Answer by Hauke Hillebrandt5mo
Boycott's are likely better - see: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/tag/divestment [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/tag/divestment] But see this thread for a defense of divestment: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/iZp7TtZdFyW8eT5dA/a-generalized-strategy-of-mission-hedging-investing-in-evil?commentId=mYf9iSL3kCxy9rubJ#comments [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/iZp7TtZdFyW8eT5dA/a-generalized-strategy-of-mission-hedging-investing-in-evil?commentId=mYf9iSL3kCxy9rubJ#comments]