With recent events in Ukraine occupying much of our thoughts these days, we asked one of philanthropy’s own, Nick Deychakiwsky, to share his recommendations on how to help the country of his heritage. The thoughts below are his own and do not necessarily reflect the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy or Indiana University.
Thanks so much to my friends who prompted me to write something, and thanks to so many friends and colleagues in philanthropy for your interest and support of Ukraine. It is something that has been a big part of my professional life, in fact my career at the Mott Foundation started with our grantmaking to support civil society in Ukraine and Russia 22 years ago. It’s a big part of my life personally as well: I lived and worked in Kyiv for nine years in the 1990s, my parents were post-WWII refugees and were blessed to be welcomed by the United States of America, my wife is from Kyiv. So, it is especially hard to hear of the city which was my home for a time and I’ve visited countless times being bombed; of my wife’s younger sister and her 15-year old daughter fleeing war and the prospect of the Kremlin’s dictatorship, just as my grandparents with young children in tow (my mother and aunt) had to do almost 80 years ago. History is repeating itself, Putin is taking the world back to 1939.
I’ve spoken and worked with so many good people over the years about supporting democracy and freedom. I know that so many people care deeply about the dignity of every human being, the right to participate, and fair treatment of all. So do I, and I have been blessed with the opportunity to facilitate support for those working on that here in the United States and indeed in many places around the world. That experience has shown me that we’re all in this together, no matter where people are, no matter what communities they are in. And so we need to stand together. As MLK said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Right now, the focus is rightly on Ukraine. I’ve been asked to suggest how people can help. When it comes to donating, below is a list of organizations that are raising money and have the capability and capacity to deliver humanitarian aid and other assistance to people fleeing the conflict, or ones that are wounded by it. Please note that I am offering this list in my personal —not professional — capacity.
The Razom Emergency Response fundraiser was created to provide urgent help and support in face of extreme and unforeseen situations in Ukraine. Right now they are purchasing medical supplies for critical situations like blood loss and other tactical medicine items.
Support Hospitals in Ukraine have sent over $4.05M in cargo to hospitals since 2014. They continue their operation to support this key infrastructure in Ukraine at a time of war.
United Help Ukraine is working to provide life-saving individual first aid kits (IFAKs) containing blood-stopping bandages and tourniquets and other emergency medical supplies to the front lines and is cooperating with other emergency response organizations to prepare humanitarian aid to civilians that might be directly affected by Russia’s attack.
United Ukrainian American Relief Committee is gathering funds to provide humanitarian aid to victims of war in Ukraine.
International Rescue Committee has launched an emergency appeal to help support displaced Ukrainian families with critical aid.
UNHCR is working with the authorities, the United Nations and other partners in Ukraine and is ready to provide humanitarian assistance wherever necessary and possible.
Joint Distribution Committee is providing emergency services to Ukraine’s Jewish communities.
Amnesty International works to protect the human rights of Ukrainians and protect Ukrainians at risk.
I also hope that various donors and foundations continue to support human rights, freedom, democracy and civil society wherever in the world they are doing so (including in the United States, where our democracy is under threat, and certain communities are oppressed), or start doing so if they are not yet. This is a global struggle. When dictators get away with taking what belongs to others, this only emboldens other authoritarian-minded leaders. When democracy weakens and falls apart, the removal of freedom will soon follow, and there will be no equity or justice or peace.
Nick Deychakiwsky is a senior program officer working in two Civil Society program areas: Enhancing Community Philanthropy and Strengthening Civic Space. In late 1990, Deychakiwsky moved to Ukraine, where he worked in various roles supporting democratic and economic reform before joining the Mott Foundation in 2000. Working in the Foundation’s former Prague office, he was responsible for grantmaking in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova until late 2006. He subsequently managed U.S. and global nonprofit/philanthropic sector infrastructure and community philanthropy grantmaking. Since 2016, Deychakiwsky has served as a board member for the United Philanthropy Forum.
Deychakiwsky earned a Master of Business Administration from Columbia University and worked for Mobil Oil as a supply analyst before returning to school to study music and obtain a master’s degree in choral conducting. He is an avid fan of his hometown Cleveland sports teams and enjoys arranging Ukrainian folk music, playing the bandura, reading science fiction and bike riding.