How the Red Cross is spending money in Ukraine
Update: The war in Ukraine has intensified. But unfortunately, Red Cross's approach has remained the same. Its fundraising total has risen to a massive C$1.3 billion, almost doubling since May. Yet the bleak picture painted below continues.
Not enough aid is getting inside Ukraine. And not nearly fast enough.
As of June 3rd 2022, Ukrainian Red Cross had received C$26.1m from Red Cross4, only 2.1% of donations.
“The West has pledged lots of aid, but it is not arriving fast enough to balance the books.”
The Economist, June 2022
Ukraine is desperate for help. Its economy is devastated, compared to the likes of the 1930s depression in America. The humanitarian work inside Ukraine is where aid is needed most. Getting our donations to work inside Ukraine will do the most good.
“The greatest needs are undoubtedly in places with active warfare that our team cannot reach. Civilians trapped in besieged cities need safe passage to locations of the choice.”
MSF April 2022 update
WAR IN UKRAINE:
May 26, 2022 Ukraine War Day 91: The world’s response to help Ukraine is one of the biggest fundraising appeals in history. As of May 5, 2022, Red Cross Societies around the world report raising $740m. This total is what International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) reports, the overarching federation that represents all national Red Cross charities like Canadian Red Cross. Having given so generously, now we need to follow the money.
Where have donations been spent and how much has made its way inside Ukraine?
Inside Ukraine, Red Cross reports spending $202 million. This is split between two separate and distinct Red Cross charities working in Ukriane; the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) and Ukrainian Red Cross (URC).
So far, ICRC has received $192.6m and Ukrainian Red Cross has received $9.8m from Red Cross partners1. It’s alarming how little money URC has received. Both charities are doing lifesaving work inside Ukraine, so why is ICRC receiving almost 20 times more funding?
With the war, Ukrainian Red Cross is spending $8 million a month. With the funding it has received, URC can continue its activities at current levels for roughly four months or until the end of August2. But as the war continues, especially as fighting intensifies in the Donbas region, URC may have to scale up its relief work.
What is the money doing?
Ukrainian Red Cross was founded in 1918, just 19 years after Canadian Red Cross. It has 208 local branches across Ukraine. Since the Maidan protests and the Russian invasion of Donbas in 2014, Ukrainian Red Cross has been on the front line of Ukraine’s battles. ICRC was founded in 1863 and is responsible for aid within armed conflict. It has also been working in Ukraine since 2014.
URC and ICRC are both working to help people inside Ukraine while neighbouring Red Cross Societies are working to help refugees.
Ukrainian Red Cross’ Facebook page posts frequent updates of activities and spending. As of April 26th, URC has spent $16.1m. Here’s a breakdown of how this money has been spent on humanitarian aid:
ICRC has not provided a breakdown of spending in Ukraine.
People helped by Red Cross donations
Red Cross has helped almost 2 million people. URC has reached almost a million of these people, accounting for 53% of the total.
Total money spent
Donations to Red Cross are being spent inside Ukraine and also elsewhere. IFRC is supporting other Red Cross societies like Polish Red Cross and Romanian Red Cross around Ukraine. IFRC reports a breakdown of spending totaling C$298m.
Source: IFRC Operational Update
The breakdown is as follows:
- C$193m allocated to ICRC.
- C$73m allocated to IFRC. This is money for IFRC to give to National Red Cross Societies like Ukrainian, Polish, Moldova, Hungarian and other Red Crosses. A breakdown is not provided of how much funding each Society has received.
- C$4.1m spent domestically in National Societies
- C$3.4m granted to National Societies directly from National Societies, rather than through IFRC.
The remaining funding will support operations and activities both inside Ukraine and in bordering countries while the Red Cross continues its work over the next two years.
More recent information, updated July 6th 2022
In the months since writing this article, Red Cross has raised an additional C$522m. But Ukrainian Red Cross has received a sheepish C$16.3m since then. Including amounts given to ICRC, only an additional C$58.2m has made its way inside Ukraine.
In parallel with donations, Red Cross’s spending has also doubled. But where is the money going? IFRC was allocated C$147.4m “to scale up support to National Societies in Ukraine and neighbouring countries”. But IFRC has yet to detail where exactly this money is going. And unless otherwise detailed, it can be assumed the funds are sitting in a Geneva bank account.
Here are the most recent figures we have found as of July 6th 2022:
- Total amount raised: C$1,258.7m
- Total amount given to Ukrainian Red Cross: $26.1m, reported on June 3rd, 2.1% of total amounts raised
- Total amount spent: C$563.8m
- C$234.3m allocated to ICRC, 18.6% of total amounts raised
- C$147.4m allocated to IFRC (likely included is the C$26.1m given to URC)
- C$132.3m spent domestically in National Societies
- C$11.2m granted to National Societies directly from National Societies
While funds may not be flowing to Ukrainian Red Cross, it is continuing to help the majority of people. As of July 6th, IFRC reports it has helped 3.56 million people, doubling the number of people reached since May. Unsurprisingly, Ukrainian Red Cross has helped 62% of these people.
How you can help
In April 2022, IFRC doubled its Ukrainian appeal to $1.6 billion. It aims to reach 3.6 million people in Ukraine over the next two years. For those looking to support Ukrainian Red Cross, a donation to Canadian Red Cross or IFRC may not make it directly there. Instead, Canadian donors should consider giving directly to Ukrainian Red Cross. Unfortunately, this donation will not come with a tax receipt.
We urge the Canadian government to add URC to its Royal Gifts from Her Majesty list. This temporarily permits an international charity to issue tax receipts for Canadian donations. This is the original purpose of Royal Gifts. Here is what we wrote about Royal Gifts in 2019.
We continue to recommend donors give directly to Ukrainian Red Cross and MSF/Doctors Without Borders.
If you are looking for other ways to support Ukraine, Charity Intelligence’s recommendations can be found here.
Sources used in Update:
IFRC Operational Update Federation-wide Overview Update June 16th
IFRC Go data collection platform
The economist, The long war series, "Does a protracted conflict favour Russia or Ukraine?"
- IFRC has not clearly stated how much money it has given to URC. Charity Intelligence used URC’s Facebook post from April 26th, stating it received C$9.8m from Red Crosses. This amount could include donations from ICRC, meaning URC may have received less than 1.3% of donations.
- 4 months of funding reserves was calculated based on URC’s spending of C$16m since the beginning of the Russian invasion February 25th 2022, and total donations of C$47m from Red Cross and other philanthropists as of April 26th.
- IFRC reports in Swiss Francs and Ukrainian Red Cross reports in Ukrainian hryvnia. Exchange rate of 1CHF:1.33CAD and 1UAH: 044CAD is used for currency conversion
- Charity Intelligence added updates to this article on July 6th 2022. At this time Ukrainian Red Cross' Facebook post from June 3rd states it has received C$26.1m from Red Cross partners
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