How to help from DC: Charities accepting donations for Ukraine

As Russia continues its assault on Ukraine, striking cities and civilian targets, supporters and activists in D.C. and the U.S. are stepping up efforts to support the European nation.

But not all charities are created equally.

“One concern we have is that some charities, even financially efficient ones, are using this as a fundraising opportunity without a clear idea of how they intend to spend the money, and possibly without any real-world experience in operating in a crisis situation or a disaster or conflict zone,” said Laurie Styron, executive director of Charity Watch.

“Doctors Without Borders is probably my No. 1 pick,” Styron said. The nonprofit got back to her group “telling us in very, very specific terms what they’re doing right now in Ukraine and in the surrounding countries for the refugees fleeing the conflict.” She also recommends CARE USA and Direct Relief.

If you’re looking to help the people of Ukraine by making a donation, you’ll want to make sure your money will have the impact you expect. (WTOP/John Aaron)

Charity Navigator recommends about 30 charities, including UNICEF USA, World Vision, Americares, Direct Relief, Global Giving and Water Mission.

Here’s how you can help.

  • Doctors Without Borders said it remains in Ukraine to help deal with the escalating crisis, though it has had to halt normal operations: “Our supply centers are currently preparing medical kits for rapid dispatch. We have sent additional emergency teams to the region, and our staff are currently assessing the needs of Ukrainian refugees in Poland and other neighboring countries.” You can donate online.
  • Sebastian Rejak, Director of American Jewish Committee Central Europe, has been in Poland assisting refugees. He told WTOP his organization has brought supplies, like nonperishable food and hygiene products to the Ukrainian refugees. So far they have raised more than $2 million for the effort. The money is going to both Poland and Ukraine as well as Ukrainian teachers to account for the influx of children joining the Polish education system. Donations of medical supplies and defensive gear such as bulletproof vests are also being accepted. You can learn more and also donate to AJC’s stand with Ukraine fund here.
  • Jason Straziuso with the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva told WTOP the organization is helping Ukrainian refugees by “delivering medical supplies, food, water and hygiene material in Kyiv, Mariupol, Odessa, Donetsk, Luhansk, and many other places.” Some on their staff are medical personnel and weapons contamination specialists. You can donate online.
  • CARE USA sends food, water, and hygiene kits to the most vulnerable in Ukraine. The charity said it’s providing support to partners on the ground to help those fleeing violence. “A humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in Ukraine as attacks of war put millions of lives at risk. Innocent families, women and girls, and the elderly will suffer most. CARE’s immediate crisis response aims to reach 4 million with your help.” You can donate online.
  • Direct Relief said it’s focused on providing medical support in Ukraine and surrounding countries to address health needs and has donated more than 25 tons of medical aid since the Russian invasion began. In an update, one of the organization’s contacts said “we are seeing huge numbers of [internally displaced persons] from Kharkiv moving to the west. They have nowhere to live and no food. We are trying to arrange shelter, food, and first aid. Kharkiv has been badly bombed; it is a disaster.” Donate online.
  • D.C.’s Dacha Beer Garden is raising money for Ukraine. Zoriana Makar, manager at Dacha Beer Garden, who’s originally from Ternopil in western Ukraine, said that as long as the war continues, “We are definitely going to do something here and we will try our best to raise as much money as we can.” The money they raise will go to groups such as UNICEF’s Ukraine emergency fund and Razom for Ukraine.
  • Famed D.C. chef José Andrés is on the ground in Poland with his nonprofit World Central Kitchen feeding Ukrainian refugees. They’ve already served thousands of meals to those fleeing the violence in their homeland. You can donate to the World Central Kitchen online.
  • Gaithersburg, Maryland-based nonprofit United Help Ukraine is seeking donations. Arlington, Virginia, resident Roxolana Wynar, who has family and friends in Ukraine, said: “We need people to donate money, and to help with that initiative. Because the loss of life is just really bad right now.” Get more information online.
  • The Jewish Foundation of Greater Washington has established a Ukraine Emergency Fund. “Federation and our partners on the ground in Ukraine are coordinating to ensure we can swiftly meet emerging and urgent humanitarian needs of the 200,000+ members of Ukraine’s Jewish community.” Donate online.
  • The American Red Cross said it is continuing to support at-risk families in the Ukraine, calling the humanitarian situation on the ground there “dire.” It said Ukraine Red Cross has already distributed more than 30,000 food and hygiene parcels and is assisting with evacuations. Donations can be made online.
  • Abundance International works with orphanages in Ukraine to provide medicine, practical supplies, physical therapy equipment and renovations. “War has come to Ukraine, and these orphans are in desperate need of your help,” the nonprofit wrote on its website. Donations can be made online.
  • Some of D.C.’s top chefs are holding a #ChefsForUkraine fundraiser to support José Andrés’ nonprofit World Central Kitchen, which has been helping feed Ukrainian refugees. The 10-course meal, which will feature selections from 10 D.C. chefs with optional wine pairings, will be held on March 21 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $500 with a $200 add-on for the wine pairing. Organizers are calling for corporate sponsors to match donations. Get more information from WTOP.
  • Humanity & Inclusion US has deployed a team of emergency experts to Ukraine and neighboring countries to assess the humanitarian situation. “We are prioritizing helping the most vulnerable affected populations, including injured people, people with disabilities, elderly people and those with chronic illnesses,” spokeswoman Lucy Cottle said. Donate online.
  • Islamic Relief USA: Islamic relief said its priority is to provide humanitarian relief to families who are in need wherever we can across the world. It met with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), along with a variety of partners, to discuss Ukraine and is is working with an international NGO on the ground now, looking to scale up relief efforts. Donate online.

WTOP’s John Aaron contributed to this report.


Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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