Creative Ways to Help in Heavy Times

flag in the shape of ukraine

Over the last few weeks my thoughts have been with the people of Ukraine: those fleeing their homes and seeking refuge from unrelenting Russian attacks, those staying to defend their country, and all the families who are separating. In this recent episode of The Daily podcast from the New York Times, reporter Sabrina Tavernise traveled alongside Ukrainians escaping the violence, and her interviews with the refugees are gut-wrenching.

Through all the devastating coverage, I’ve been heartened by the creative ways individuals are using technology to directly assist those in need. I first saw an Instagram post recommending people go to Etsy to purchase digital downloads from Ukrainian sellers, getting money to the sellers directly without requiring them to do any additional work right now. Some people are also purchasing physical products and leaving notes to the seller explaining that they just want to help and advising the seller to not actually ship anything. It’s a really thoughtful way to directly support creative and small businesses during this crisis, as this article shows. The platform itself is also getting involved, cancelling fees for Ukraine-based sellers.

People are also booking Airbnbs in Ukraine as another way of getting money directly to Ukrainians. There are some guidelines to follow if you choose to offer financial support in this way: book for dates as close to today as possible so hosts can receive the funds more quickly and try to rent small apartments or rooms – or experiences – in places that have been targets of bombings. Also be sure to explain to the host that you won’t be coming. Like Etsy, Airbnb is waiving fees for these stays and experiences in Ukraine, and have even launched their own campaign to help house 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine. You can offer up a place to stay, or donate to connect people with short-term housing.

Of course, there are also more traditional charities involved in humanitarian relief, recovery, and peace-building efforts. Charity Navigator has a really great resource to help you navigate highly rated charities so you can ensure your donation makes the greatest impact possible. I’ve been moved to make contributions to both a larger charity as well as to individual artists through Etsy. In these incredibly heavy times, it makes me feel just a little bit better to have a way to make a direct impact.

How about you? Have the Russian attacks on Ukraine also forced you to reflect on other ongoing international crises? Have you found creative ways to contribute to relief efforts? Whatever you may be doing and however you may be navigating these times, I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well.

-Mylène Kerschner, Research and Consulting Manager