Guest Post — The War in Ukraine Requires a Major Philanthropic Response and Overall Increase in Peace and Security Funding

Originally published in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, March 1, 2022

“The Molotov cocktails are the worst,” says my 99-year-old grandmother, reflecting on the violence erupting in her homeland of Ukraine. She remembers dodging them in the streets of Odessa as she fled invaders eight decades ago. “But,” she sighs during our weekly Skype chat from her home in Germany, “what can we actually do at this point?”

The short answer for everyone, but especially philanthropy, is quite a lot.

First, grant makers must respond to the immediate humanitarian crisis in Ukraine by providing much-needed rapid-response funds to help those on the ground. Millions of people are likely to need shelter, food, water, and medical care. Foundations and individual donors that can give rapid-response grants should connect with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy or their philanthropy colleagues who are in direct touch with Ukrainian grantee partners and who can most effectively channel funds to meet immediate needs.

Grant makers that have not established flexible-funding approaches should take this opportunity to embrace the notion that timely philanthropy is the most effective philanthropy — especially during a crisis.

Pushing Back on Misinformation

Second, philanthropy can play an important role in pushing back on the warmongering, misinformation-driven narrative woven into the conflict itself and the debate surrounding it. Much has been written about Russia’s use of disinformation in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and, most recently, its characterizations of Ukraine and its government. In both cases, Russian disinformation was amplified by conservative news outlets and politicians in this country, fueling the partisanship that stands in the way of genuine policy debate and consensus building. Such misinformation also feeds narratives that peace, diplomacy, and compromise are weak.

One of the most effective ways grant makers can respond is by supporting independent journalism and analysis that counters these narratives. For example, the 762 Project, which is run by volunteers in Ukraine and elsewhere, has been collecting, analyzing, and posting information about the buildup of Russian troops along Ukraine’s borders since last spring. Supporting local news sources in Ukraine, such as the English-language news site the Kyiv Independent, is especially important to ensuring that propaganda from outlets like the Kremlin-funded RT and social-media misinformation campaigns don’t drive decision making about the invasion.

Bolster Peace and Security Funding

Finally, philanthropy must increase its investment in peace and security broadly, and diversify who receives that funding. Without meaning to sound insensitive, this step is more important and more difficult than the short-term response to the war in Ukraine. It is the only way to achieve lasting peace and security in both Ukraine and future conflicts — and to identify and spotlight innovative, peace-focused solutions.

Peace and security funding accounts for just 1 percent of all grant making, which is as lopsided as the funding disparity between the State Department and the Department of Defense. The State Department’s $65 billion budget is 1 percent of the overall federal budget, while the Defense Department’s is 10 times that, or $773 billion. In a recent op-ed about American militarism, Patrick Hiller, director of the War Prevention Initiative at the Jubitz Family Foundation, noted that “diplomacy is the sidekick of the U.S. war machine when it comes to relations with the rest of the world.” Is it any wonder that diplomacy doesn’t have much of a fighting chance?

The 57 members of the Peace and Security Funders Group, which I manage, make up a passionate and strategic bunch, but we struggle to get adequate funding for our issues. Why?

During my 14 years of working in this area, I’ve heard three perennial reasons from grant makers for avoiding peace work:

Peace is a long-term investment, with payout measured in decades, and boards lack the vision and patience to stay the course when there aren’t quick wins to showcase at quarterly meetings.  Peace work can feel too political because many of the issues involve policy or legislation.  It’s difficult to claim credit for avoiding a future nuclear terrorist attack or for preventing a conflict that would have happened absent locally led peace-building efforts.

In reality, hundreds of examples demonstrate how investing in peace building can stop or reduce conflict. And, as the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially when it comes to investments in peace versus war. As for those concerned about crossing too far into direct political involvement or lobbying, there are many options in the advocacy toolbox that both grant makers and nonprofits can deploy to effectively and legally engage in this work.

The peace and security arena is itself at a crossroads. One foundation colleague of mine often jokes that the field is mostly “pale, male, and stale.” Some have called the lack of diversity a national security crisis, and myriad initiatives are pushing for more diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism efforts. For instance, the nonprofit group Organizations in Solidarity “seeks to diversify the fields of peace and security, foreign policy, and national security,” with the goal of making the work more inclusive and equitable.

The field is beginning to grapple with a toxic culture that dismisses new ideas, as well as its role in upholding a white dominant system that favors solutions for only some of the world’s people. This is necessary and long overdue. As philanthropist and financier Frank Giustra observed, “Without peace and security, you can forget about advancing any of the other social issues philanthropy is trying to address. … It’s impossible to implement solutions in issue areas like health, education, and poverty unless you have a peaceful and stable environment to work in.”

The tragic and unnecessary war in Ukraine is unlikely to end anytime soon — and philanthropy has no excuse for sitting on the sidelines. Funds should be directed toward immediate humanitarian needs while also supporting organizations that are charting a more inclusive, equitable, and just path forward. We all need to learn to talk about peace in a way that’s empowering, inspiring, and radically feminist. For those grant makers who aren’t yet in the peace game, this is your chance. We have an opportunity to change history’s trajectory and prevent another devastating war.

Philanthropic Efforts to Help Those Impacted by War in Ukraine

As we think about the people of Ukraine, dealing with the impact of a Russian invasion, and for those who have been displaced or injured by the fighting, the philanthropic community is mobilizing to provide support.

  • Our colleagues at the Center for Disaster Philanthropy have developed a Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis page with some initial information for funders to keep in mind on how they can help, and they note that they will continue to update this information as needs come into greater focus.  CDP has also established the Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Recovery Fund, which will focus on addressing humanitarian needs that arise, particularly among the most vulnerable, marginalized and at-risk internally-displaced peoples (IDPs) and refugees.
  • The Philanthropy Europe Foundation (Philea) is tracking information and responses to the crisis here.
  • CARE has established a Ukraine Crisis Fund to reach 4 million with immediate aid and recovery, food, water, hygiene kits, psychosocial support, and cash assistance – prioritizing women and girls, families, and the elderly.
  • The International Committee of the Red Cross is seeking donations to support its work to respond to the Ukraine crisis.
  • The Council on Foundations has put together a response page, including statements and relief funds from the field and our members.
  • Our sister organization, Human Rights Funders Network has shared that you can:
  • Support women, trans, and nonbinary activists on the ground through Urgent Action Fund’s Urgent Response Fund: Ukraine;
  • Donate directly to queer and young feminist organizations;

Philanthropy Roundtable has suggested the following additional organizations:

The Victor Pinchuk Foundation, based in Ukraine, directs donors to standforukraine.com to support local relief efforts.

The Ukrainian Institute in London shares the following options of organizations supporting Ukraine:

  • Support Ukraine NOW – Worldwide network with resources for donating, protesting, and volunteering. The website includes country specific tips for over 20 countries.
    With Ukraine, is a special fund to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine’s civilian population established by the Embassy of Ukraine in the UK
    The UNHCR Refugee Agency emergency appeal to help ensure that Ukrainians forced to flee their homes are sheltered and safe.
    The Red Cross have established a Ukraine Crisis Appeal to provide food, water, first aid, medicine, warm clothes, and shelter.
    Defend Ukraine have collated a list of fundraisers, charities, and donation links in support of Ukraine, covering financial and humanitarian aid, medical supplies, and military support.
    The Ukraine Crisis Media Center has published a list of recommendations of charities in Ukraine to support.
    Ukraine Charity, London: humanitarian appeal – Ukraine Charity are a UK registered charity.
    The Kyiv Independent needs support to continue reporting on the ground from Ukraine.
    In the US, Razom for Ukraine and Nova Ukraine are raising money for Emergency Response.

BankNewport 2021 Philanthropic Efforts Resulted in Over $1.2 Million Awarded to Over 350 RI Nonprofits

BankNewport announced that its 2021 philanthropic efforts resulted in over $1.2 million awarded to over 350 nonprofits in Rhode Island. The donations include all grants, sponsorships, community contributions from local branches, and year-end proactive and holiday support totaling $74,000 to nonprofits that meet basic needs for the underserved throughout Rhode Island.

Organizations in every county of Rhode Island benefitted from the giving effort, with areas of impact focused on basic human needs, children & families, education, economic security, healthy living, arts and culture and the environment. Over the past 11 years, BankNewport has awarded $7 million in grants, sponsorships, and donations to a wide range of nonprofits to help strengthen and enrich lives and communities throughout the state.

Financial education and community involvement by Bank employees in 2021 totaled over 7,300 hours. Through BNWise, BankNewport’s financial education program, over 2,500 students and community members were engaged in interactive financial education presentations on a variety of topics, from saving and budgeting to credit and entrepreneurship, which were made available in-person and virtually.

BankNewport also presented two high profile campaigns generating statewide awareness of food insecurity and for those organizations serving Rhode Island’s homeless population: Kind Souls Full Bowls benefitted the with a $50,000 Bank gift and over $7,500 raised from the community, and Kind Heart Fresh Start collected over 4,700 personal care items impacting more than 1,000 individuals in need with a $50,000 Bank gift and over $7,500 raised from the community, and Kind Heart Fresh Start collected over 4,700 personal care items impacting more than 1,000 individuals in need.

 

Point32Health Foundation Awards More Than $1.1 Million to 10 New England Community Organizations

The Point32Health Foundation announced today that 10 community organizations across the region will receive grants totaling more than $1.1 million. Funding will support work to advance policies and practices that address disparities and create more inclusive communities.Building on the legacy of service and giving established by Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation and Tufts Health Plan Foundation, the Point32Health Foundation will work with communities to support, advocate and advance healthier lives for everyone. These grants advance systems-level change to remove barriers responsible for inequities in New England communities.The Rhode Island beneficiary was Progreso Latino in Central Falls, which received a two-year grant for $150,000.

Rhode Island Foundation’s Black Philanthropy Bannister Fund Awards $105,000 in Grants

The Rhode Island Foundation has awarded $105,000 in grants to nonprofits serving the state’s Black community through its Black Philanthropy Bannister Fund.

The fund supports nonprofits that offer youth development and mentoring, promote the history and achievements of Blacks in Rhode Island, preserve the culture of the Black community and strive to uplift low-income Black Rhode Islanders.

Fifteen organizations received grants ranging from $5,000 to $10,000.  Recipients include:

  • Mixed Magic Theatre & Cultural Events
  • YMCA of Pawtucket
  • Rhode Island Slave History Medallions
  • AS220
  • College Visions
  • The Everett School
  • The John Hope Settlement House
  • A Leadership Journey
  • Mt. Hope Learning Center
  • New Bridges for Haitian Success
  • New Urban Arts
  • The Nonviolence Institute
  • Oasis International
  • Providence Promise
  • Rhode Island Black Storytellers

The fund also offers scholarships for Black students who are pursuing or advancing a career in health care in college or a technical school. Last year, the fund awarded $55,300 to 24 recipients. The deadline to apply for 2022 scholarship assistance is April 18.

More information

RI Foundation Awards Nearly $500,000 Through the Program for Animal Welfare

The Rhode Island Foundation has awarded nearly $500,000 in grants to dozens of animal welfare programs across the state. The funding will support a range of uses including low-cost vet care for pets of low-income households, preparing animals for adoption, and wildlife rehabilitation.
“The generosity of our donors and the commitment of our grantee partners is expanding humane education, increasing care options for shelter animals and pets owned by low-income households, and improving the quality of animal care in Rhode Island,” said Adrian Bonéy, who oversees the Foundation’s Program for Animal Welfare (PAW). “Their work is producing innovation, new approaches to animal welfare and increasing the number of animals receiving direct care across Rhode Island.”
The single largest recipient is the Potter League for Animals, which received several grants, including $20,000 to support veterinary care at its Animal Resource and Adoption Center in Middletown; $10,000 for humane education programming in Newport County, $30,000 to subsidize surgeries and transportation at its Spay and Neuter Clinic in Warwick and $40,000 to purchase medical supplies for its Pets In Need clinic in East Providence. Learn more about PAW grants and view the complete list of 2022 awardees here.

Over 90 Charitable Sector Leaders Join United Philanthropy Forum in Urging Senate Action on Voting Rights

United Philanthropy Forum sent a letter to all 100 Senate offices urging action on voting rights during the final year of the 117th Congress. Joining the Forum as signatories of the letter were over 90 philanthropic and charitable sector leaders from across the country, including 40 Forum members.

Specifically, the letter asks the United States Senate to prioritize passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act in 2022. The Forum endorsed the legislation last year and has continued to work with partners like Independent Sector to uplift the issue to the broader sector.

After the Senate failed to act on voting rights last month, the Forum recognized the need to continue to call on legislators to do act on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement and the critical importance of the measures the bill takes to ensure equity in the voting rights process.

If you have any questions about philanthropy’s work on this issue or the Forum’s commitment to uplifting equitable public policy solutions, please feel free to contact Matthew L. Evans, the Forum’s Senior Director of Public Policy.

National Endowment for the Arts announces $195,000 in Project Funding to 11 RI arts organizations

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced today the first round of recommended awards for fiscal year 2022, with 11 awards totaling nearly $195,000 to Rhode Island-based arts and culture organizations.

Nationally, the first round of NEA’s recommended awards for fiscal year 2022 totaled 1,498 organizations and nearly $33.2 million in funds. The Grants for Arts Projects funding spanned 15 artistic disciplines and reached communities in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Recipients of the Challenge America grant program, NEA Literature Fellowships in creative writing and translation, and support for arts research projects were also included in this announcement.

Click here to see the national listing of grantees.

RISCA and RIHPHC Award $3.46 million in Capital Grants

Governor Dan McKee, the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) and the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission (RIHPHC) jointly announced the recipients of 24 State Cultural Facilities Grants and 18 State Preservation Grants.
Together the projects represent some $2.28 million from RISCA and more than $1.18 million from RIHPHC for capital preservation work at public and nonprofit arts and performance facilities, museums, cultural arts centers and historic sites throughout the state.
Last March, Rhode Island voters overwhelmingly passed the Cultural Arts and State Preservation Grants Programs ballot measure, which authorized the state to allocate funds to arts, culture and historic facilities. Included in this funding are carryover funds from the 2014 $30 million ballot measure totaling $460,930.
For a listing of State Cultural Facilities Grants, click here.
For more on HPHC’s State Preservation Grants, visit www.preservation.ri.gov.

Bank Newport Awards $74,000 in Family Support Grants

BankNewport awarded $74,000 in proactive grants to support the missions of 64 organizations throughout Rhode Island and to provide additional aid for the holiday season.

“As a true community bank, we are dedicated to making a positive impact around the state,” said Jack Murphy, President & CEO, BankNewport. “These organizations work tirelessly to ensure that our most vulnerable neighbors receive the care and support they need every day.  We are so thankful for their efforts throughout the year, but especially during the holidays, when they go above and beyond to make the season a bit brighter for those in need.”

Twenty eight nonprofits in Providence County received grants, seven in Kent County, thirteen in Newport County, five in Washington County, and three in Bristol County.  Eighteen additional statewide nonprofits received grants.

Photo: Jessica Couto, vice president, branch sales manager at BankNewport’s newest branch in Warwick, joins Lara D’ Antuono, CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Warwick, at the Club’s holiday market.  The Boys & Girls Club used a BankNewport family support grant to purchase gifts for its holiday market, which allows parents and caregivers to shop for gifts for their children at no cost.

Grantmakers Council of Rhode Island