3 March 2023

Philanthropy in Ukraine – reaffirming our solidarity one year on and looking ahead to a brighter future

Sign the Philanthropy Statement of solidarity and support to the people of Ukraine

The 24th of February 2023 marked exactly one year since the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian regime, and twelve months of Philea activities to show solidarity with Ukraine, its people and its civil society sector. To mark the moment, we co-hosted an event with our transatlantic partners (listed in full below), which included a key address by Oleksandra Matviichuk, Head of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Center for Civil Liberties, and also the launch of the Philanthropy Statement of solidarity and support to the people of Ukraine.

Moderated by Jonathan Katz, Director of Democracy Initiatives at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the event opened with a review of the philanthropic response to Ukraine from both sides of the Atlantic, with perspectives from Europe presented by Philea’s Chief Executive Officer Delphine Moralis and from the US by Natalie Ross of the Council on Foundations.

State of Play Ukraine: Numbers  
– 18,955 civilian casualties, including 7,199 deaths – but actual figure significantly higher (OHCHR) 
– Nearly 6 million Ukrainians internally displaced and 8.1 million have fled as refugees (UNHCR)
– Percentage of children living in poverty has almost doubled to more than 80 per cent (UNICEF)
– Damage to buildings and infrastructure amount to nearly $136 billion. (Kyiv School of Economics)
Philanthropy response at a glance  
$2.79B given and pledged by philanthropy  
– As of 21 February, Candid has tracked: 1,591 grants valued at $1,581,399,185
– An additional $1,214,539,480 from 194 pledged commitments  
Grants and pledges have come from philanthropy around the world:  
– 67% from the Americas ($1.9B); 28% from Europe ($776M); 4% from Asia ($112M); and 1% from funders in Middle East, Australia, and Africa ($20M)

Excerpts from the key address by Oleksandra Matviichuk:

On renewal through justice and rule of law…

To renew, to restore not only Ukrainian infrastructure, we need to restore the belief of Ukrainian people that rule of law is essential, democracy is working and justice is possible, even though there will be a delay in time. And the most crucial in this regard is the question of justice.

I will refer to the sociological survey which was conducted last year. Ukrainians were asked: What will be the main disappointment for you when the war ends, and majority of Ukrainians 65 and 80% responded that the main disappointment for them will be the impunity for Russian war crimes. So this is demand for justice of millions of people and we can’t ignore it. And it’s very important to support efforts of national investigative bodies, international investigators bodies, as well as civil society and other actors to ensure justice for all victims of this war.

On the importance of democratic transformation…

“When we speak about recovery, we have to also include the creation and reforming of democratic, sustainable institutions. This war started not in February 2022, but in February 2014, when Ukraine obtained a chance for the quick democratic transformation after collapse of authoritarian regime as a result of revolution of dignity. And in order to stop us in this way, Putin started this war nine years ago because Putin is not afraid of NATO, Putin is afraid of the idea of freedom. And this war has a very vivid value dimension in this regard and is not just a war between two states. This is a war between two systems: authoritarianism and democracy. And now Putin is trying to convince Ukrainians that we made a wrong choice nine years ago when we when we organised peaceful protests against authoritarian regime and struggle for freedom and for democracy, because he tried to demonstrate that democracy, rule of law and human rights are fake values and couldn’t protect you during the war.

So we have to make a response to this claim and to win the value dimension of this war. And it’s also part of recovery process, because when we speak about democratic transformation of the country, it’s not enough to adopt equality laws or create a new formal institutions because the energy and non-formal values of society will prevail.”

On recovery and the opportunity for a more sustainable future…

I know that it’s very difficult to speak about recovery in war times, but it’s too late to discuss this after the war will end. And when people talk about recovery, first of all, they imagine the restoration of ruined bridges, ruined residential buildings, ruined roads and other civilian civil objects and civil infrastructure. This is important and essential.

But persons affected by the war also have to be one of priorities of the recovery process. It means that when we thinking about recovery, we have to think about some crimes; Survivor support programs which have to include the compensatory mechanism for property losses, psychological and medical assistance. We have to think about support opportunities for internally displaced persons and for people returning to their destroyed territories. We need to implement some development projects for local communities to return the press to local economy. And also we have to think and should address natural environment restoration and protection issues. So there are a lot of questions which are on the table when we speak about recovery. Russians destroyed critical civil infrastructure in order to leave millions of Ukrainians without water, heat, electricity, internet connection and other kinds of basic facilities during this winter. But it provides the opportunity to implement a program of green recovery, and we have to think about it.

The event also included interventions from David Spergel, President of the Simons Foundation, who explained his organisation’s continued support of scientists in and from Ukraine and philanthropy’s need to be quick and flexible in its role post-conflict.Ewa Kulik-Bielińska, Executive Director of the Stefan Batory Foundation, spoke about the critical need to empower people and local populations, and especially civil society organisations, to preserve democratic procedures and anti-corruption.

The event ended with a Q&A with Liubov Rainchuk, Head of the program department at Zagoriy Foundation, and Martina Hrvolova, Resident Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, on the future role of philanthropy in Ukraine.

The event was produced in collaboration with