Webcast - "Far From Over: Giving to Support the Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Now and In the Future"
Transcript of the video:
MICHAEL GORDON VOSS: Thank you for joining Stanford Social Innovation Reviews webinar, Far From Over: Giving to Support the Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Now and in the Future, produced with the support of Schwab Charitable. I’m Michael Gordon Voss, publisher at Stanford Social Innovation Review, and the moderator of today’s webinar.
This webinar is part of the Giving With Impact series produced by SSIR with the support of Schwab Charitable, who help with the selection of speakers and topics. The series is designed to stimulate a discussion among the philanthropic sector around ways to maximize philanthropic impact. Through webinars like the one today, and our series of original podcasts, we hope to create a collaborative space for leading voices from the philanthropic ecosystem to engage in both aspirational and practical conversations on ways to achieve more effective philanthropy.
And now let’s get started with today’s program. Since late February of this year, when Russia first invaded Ukraine, the world has watched a refugee crisis unfold, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in Europe since the end of the Second World War. A recent report from the United Nations estimates that since the onset of the Russian invasion, nearly one-third of Ukrainians have been forced from their homes, making this the largest humanitarian displacement crisis in the world today. Within Ukraine, over 7.1 million people remain displaced by the war, and 15.7 million people are estimated to urgently require humanitarian assistance and protection. Inside Ukraine, many people who are trapped are unable to meet their basic needs, including food, water, and medicine. The delivery of life saving aid remains challenging, with a lack of safe humanitarian access in some areas where intense fighting is ongoing.
As with any humanitarian crisis, we have, thankfully, seen an outpouring of support from governments, organizations, both private and public, and individuals. But as the situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate at an alarming scale, many donors are less sure how or even where to send support. What are the most unexpected needs or challenges on the ground in Ukraine today? And how have these needs evolved since the start of the crisis? How is the conflict in Ukraine impacting other global crises, including global food security or an already staggering international refugee crisis? Where can philanthropic support make the most impact? And what are the best practices for donors as they formulate their responses to support relief needs in Ukraine? And perhaps, most importantly, how can donors continue to provide long-term support in this or any humanitarian crisis, particularly as the situation evolves and the news cameras leave the region?
Today’s panel discussion will explore these questions and others, and, hopefully provide some direction.
Joining us today is Abby Maxman, President and CEO of Oxfam America. With more than 30 years of experience in international humanitarian relief and development, Abby brings a strategic focus on addressing the policies and systems that perpetuate global poverty.
Sofia Sprechmann Sineiro is Secretary General of CARE International. Sophia is a leader in international development and a long-serving champion of gender equality, with almost 30 years of experience working with CARE.
Patty McIlreavy is the President and CEO of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, an organization that works with funders, NGOs, and other partners to mobilize a full range of resources that strengthen the ability of communities to withstand disasters and recover equitably when they occur.
And last but not least, Fred Kaynor is Managing Director of Marketing and Business Development at Schwab Charitable, and is responsible for engaging and building relationships with donors, financial advisors, and charities to help increase the impact and efficiency of giving in the United States and beyond.
Abby, Sofia, Patty, Fred, thank you all for joining today’s discussion.
Patty, I’m going to ask you to start us off, but before I get to my first question, can you tell our audience about the center for disaster philanthropy, both your work in general and what you’re doing with regard to the crisis in Ukraine?
PATTY McILREAVY: Yeah. First, thank you so much, Michael and Stanford Social Innovation Review for having us here and this great panel, just I’m really excited about this conversation.
I mean, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, you said it in the beginning, I mean, I really think our mission says it all. I mean, we leverage the power of philanthropy in… to strengthen the ability of communities, to withstand disasters, and to recover equitably, and we do that in a number of ways. We do that through… you know, one way, which is this, being out there, telling people what is happening and how they can help, just really being an expert interlocutor for them, so that they can understand. We also help a lot of philanthropy kind of think through their own strategy and figure it out. But the third piece, and we’ll get into a little bit of that today, is we stand up funds. And if you’re looking at ‘I really want to help, but there’s a lot of research, there’s a lot of choice. I don’t know how to do that.’ You can trust us as an intelligent intermediary to get those funds as close as possible to the communities and to really take some of that off you. So that’s CDP and that’s what we’re looking at.
In terms of what we’re doing for Ukraine, we do have a fund that we have that we stood up and we... you know, what we’re trying to do is look at using the experience we have in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies, both as CDP, but as the staff, themselves, our own expertise in understanding the complexity that is, you know, Ukraine. I mean, it’s called a Complex Humanitarian Emergency for a reason. It’s an incredibly difficult environment in which to work.
And I just want to pause there and just give a lot of credit to the operational agencies, both on this call, but all the ones who are on the ground there. They are working in incredibly difficult circumstances and shifting sands of scenarios. And we try at CDP to be a liaison for them to philanthropies, so that they can understand what’s happening, but also recognize that we know what it’s like. We know what it’s like to work under sanctions. We know what it’s like to work with, you know, organizations that are not registered in the United States and the questions that come from that, and we support that, we really look at how to help that. And within CDP’s, you know, ethos, we are very focused on moving as much of the funds, you know, that come to us, but also that we receive, you know, ask questions about, for guidance, to the people of Ukraine, to organizations who are working and allowing the people of Ukraine to have the dignity and agency of choice of how to move forward, how to help.
In terms of the funds that we’ve raised already, what we’ve done with them, it’s… we’ve held onto them a little bit. I mean, you may hear about this and there’s been articles about this, a lot of money went into Ukraine in the early days, as with many emergencies. And, one, it’s… there’s a complication that comes with that, in terms of a pressure to program before you really have had a chance to talk to the Ukrainians, before you have the Ukrainians themselves have solutions. They’re in the middle of the emergency. They’re not quite ready to talk to you yet about what they need to get out of it. So we’ve held onto our money a little, in sense of we want to listen to what’s on the ground. We’re staying involved. We’re staying aware of what’s going on. We’ve looked at key groups of concern that are there. I’m sure we’ll hear about it more from Sofia and Abby, as they talk about the populations they’re working with, but very much no surprises people with disabilities, third country nationals, LGBTIQ+. You know, these are group… women, and girls… groups that are traditionally under-resourced before a crisis, and often then even further falling behind during the crisis, and acts in needing special services.
And I’ll just end with in terms of our goals for Ukraine and where we’re moving, is really to fund local NGOs or international NGOs that have been there and been present since 2014. We are looking for organizations that knew that Ukraine was in a crisis, you know, eight, nine years ago, and have kind of worked with the Ukrainians through that time. That’s really what we’re exploring. We’re trying to ensure that it’s a recovery mindset. We know CDP is too small. We’re not going to do reconstruction. Actually, many philanthropists on this call are probably not going to be looking at the large reconstruction. You know Marshall Plan for Ukraine that may come. That’s going to be governments. That’s going to be multilaterals. But we can fund, and… you know, find and fund niche programs that can really help support, you know, the underserved communities, the programs that don’t get attention that can help leverage and ensure, you know, that those underserved communities are involved in those larger conversations, those larger recovery plans. So that’s what, where we’ll be looking at in the coming year, probably, is how do we get… how do we find those organizations working with those communities in that way and fund them.
MICHAEL: Patty, you know, there’s so much that I want to unpack and what you just shared, not the least of which being that focus on agency for the Ukrainian people, too, and I think we’re going to talk about that quite a bit more.
But before we get deeper into that, I want to step back for a second, because I think very often in popular media, we see phrases like ‘refugee’ and ‘displaced people’ used almost interchangeably. But I think it’s helpful for us to understand that the two terms, you know, that they are two very… they are two different things. They aren’t necessarily… or let me say, they aren’t necessarily the same thing. Would you tell us what the difference is between a refugee and an internally displaced person, and how that relates to the Ukraine crisis?
PATTY: It’s a great question. And one of the reasons I would say that it’s important to understand the nuance… because many people will say, ‘Well, what does it matter? It’s a lot of legal definitions.’ But it matters because the resolution of the crisis, the political resolution of the crisis, right… humanitarians, we can’t fix the political issues, that’s for the politicians. They need to understand, they need to grapple with, where the key responsibilities lie. What are the pressures that are on the different populations and how that return, whether it be refugee… or, you know, from another country, or displaced internally, how that return looks?
And so in technical terms, a refugee is a person who has been forced to flee his or her country, because of persecution, war, or violence. They’re protected under the 1951 statutes. You know, there’s laws that protect them that demonstrate the responsibilities both host countries have for them, and how they may return, returning with informed consent. Informed consent is critical. You’ll hear a lot of humanitarians talk about it. It means it’s not just the war is over and you tell everybody to go home. If you’re a refugee, you have to want to go home. You have to understand what you’re returning to.
Displaced people, internally displaced people, sometimes called IDPs, that is someone who is displaced inside their own country. So think of it like, you know, Hurricane Katrina. There were displaced people in America. They were displaced from Louisiana to Texas. Some of them have not gone home. Over a decade later, they’re still displaced. The difference is there’s no international legal protections for them. They are protected by the country that is already responsible for them as their citizen holder.
So that’s where it can become complicated, because while we in the international... sorry, on the humanitarian side, we will see the populations the same. We see the risks they’re facing as the same. We see the challenges they’re facing is the same. The protections that are guaranteed to them by the international community is different, because it comes upon the state, the country, the government of where that displacement is occurring to take care of its own people. And so we have less advocacy capacities with those populations. We have less to demand informed consent for their return. A government can say go home, and in some countries, people will have to go home, whether or not they wish to.
So that’s where, you know, we talk about that distinction, because in some ways the IDPs have chosen to stay for many reasons. Sometimes it’s because they can’t get out. Sometimes it’s because they won’t get out. But they have less protections guaranteed to them, but they’re just as at risk, if not more so than a refugee. And so it’s about trying to understand that complexity.
And I just want to say, if you’re on this call and you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s all too confusing.’ It’s confusing to everyone. I mean, we don’t understand why those protections are there, but it’s about… just think of it that way. If someone is displaced in your own country, because of a conflict, because of some... that… it’s the same situation that the government is responsible for them. If they move to another country, someone else becomes responsible for them.
MICHAEL: And I think in light of what you were saying in your first set of remarks about certain groups that already may have been dealing with challenges within a country, or within an area before crisis happens, I think a lot of what you just said about, you know, the protections around IDPs as opposed to refugees is very different. That kind of resonates with me, coming back to that thought. We’ll unpack that further in a second.
Fred, I want to ask you to jump in, just because I know that Schwab Charitable works closely with Patty and the CDP to help donors give effectively to those affected by crisis. Could you tell us a little bit about the resources that partnership provides to donors?
FRED KAYNOR: Absolutely, Michael, and thank you. We have a longstanding partnership that we’re very grateful for on behalf of our donors with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. You know, just listening to Patty talk right now and sort of unpack even at a high level the complexity associated with these crises as they occur, you know, our responsibility is to provide our donors with maximum resources, so that when such a crises occurs and when they want to support those crises with the generous donations that they do, that they have access to the most effective resources in the process of doing so.
So the CDP provides us in a very, very timely way when such a crisis occurs, be it the war in Ukraine, a humanitarian crisis elsewhere, natural disaster, with almost immediacy, a list of fully vetted non-profits that effectively meet the needs of those affected. And those non-profits can be, to Patty’s point, local NGOs, or they can be international organizations, or combinations thereof, they can address the needs of refugees versus displaced people, and the complexity associated with all of those that are impacted by it as they occur. So we are, as I say, extremely grateful for engaging on a longtime basis now with Patty and CDP, to provide our donors with access to those organizations, to those resources, in a very, very timely way so that they can direct their incremental giving to those that are most impacted with maximum impact.
And I just want to say that, of course, the list that we receive as it relates to providing relief and recovery efforts through CDP are... both Oxfam and CARE are of course featured on that list that we refer our donors to.
MICHAEL: Fred, thank you for making the perfect transition. So let’s bring the voices of Oxfam and CARE into this. Sofia, let’s start off with you. Can you tell us a little bit about CARE International, in general, and, specifically, about some of the needs or challenges on the ground currently in Ukraine and the surrounding Baltic states?
SOFIA SPRECHMANN SINEIRO: Yes, of course. And thank you for inviting me to join this panel, really pleased to be here. Well, CARE was founded 76 years ago, after the end of the Second World War. I have been with CARE for about a third of the time, for 28 years. We work in 100 countries to tackle the underlying costs of poverty and social injustice, and, of course, we support people in need of humanitarian aid. CARE centers all of its work on gender equality and on women and girls. That’s super important for us, and I’ll tell you in a minute why. Last year, we reached 100 million people with development and humanitarian aid across the globe in the 100 countries in which we have a presence. And over our very long history of responding to conflict, we have learned that the most concerned... and we are most concerned about unaccompanied women and children crossing borders with no contacts or help, those displaced internally within countries, as well, many of them women and children. They’re really most at risk of gender-based violence, including sexual abuse, human trafficking, so that we have learned that’s really a population we focus on. And which means, also, that every crisis is gendered.
And, of course, Ukraine there is no different, being a very gendered crisis. And CARE, together with UN Women, just published, actually, recently, and over time also during the conflict, several rapid gender analysis that have highlighted the disproportionate impact of the conflict on women, and that also they are actually the ones not only fleeing, we’ve seen that on TV, but also as they stay behind, they’re struggling to access healthcare, safety, food, and are also increasingly becoming the heads of their households as many men are conscripted. So that is really the population that we are focused on.
Since the conflict broke out in late February, CARE has reached 400,000 people in need of assistance in not only Ukraine, but Poland, Romania, the Republic of Georgia, with shelter, education, food, water, and hygiene items. CARE has also provided psychosocial support and gender-based violence support and cash assistance to people, both IDPs, as Patty said, within Ukraine, and those also seeking refuge in neighboring countries.
MICHAEL: Sofia, in addition to the gender aspects that you’ve seen evolve over the course of the war in Ukraine, can you tell us a little more about how other needs have evolved since the start of this?
SOFIA: Yes, of course. And I think it’s really important to refer back to what Patty just said, that the needs, what the needs are, is, in our case, and I know in Oxfam’s case and many others, directly informed by what the people of Ukraine tell us their needs are. So, you know, it’s super important that we listen to women, to children, to men, to boys, and, of course, also, to the local partners that understand the context very deeply and well, partners that we have been supporting and working with. So since the crisis broke out in late February, actually, the needs have been increasing in Ukraine. You know, we may have thought at the start and it’s more in the headlines so now there’s other headlines in the world, too, but the needs have been gradually increasing, and especially in the east of the country where access remains particularly difficult. Of course, the needs of LGBTIQ. The Roma people, I would like to highlight as well. And, of course, women, they face very significant barriers to accessing right now sexual reproductive health services, especially safe childbirth options, prenatal, postnatal. So while our partners in Ukraine and in the region are doing an amazing job, the needs remain incredibly high.
And I would say another really critical need is cash assistance, because you have seen the volatility and the uncertainty of the humanitarian crisis. So people have crossed to Poland, some have prospects. So I think the biggest need is actually cash assistance, because when you are in the run, what you can take along is cash, and not other items easily. So I think that continues to be an enormous need.
And I spoke a bit about Ukraine, but also neighboring countries. For example, in Poland, CARE has assisted a partner agency to hire 450 Ukrainian teachers across 12 cities to support Ukrainian refugee children, 35,000 of them, to integrate them into schooling. The teachers, of course, and the children… while the teachers need a job, so that’s partly what we have been supporting. But, also, the children need to be integrated in their own language. These are in Romania, Poland, and in other countries. So that’s also a super important need that we cannot forget.
MICHAEL: Sofia, thank you for sharing that. And since we’re talking about a wide range of needs, Abby, obviously, Oxfam is also on the ground in Ukraine. Could you tell us about Oxfam’s work again, as Patty’s done, as Sofia’s done, in general, as well as what you’re doing to help those affected by the ongoing conflict.
ABBY MAXMAN: Thanks so much, Michael. And I’ll add my thanks a little late to you, Stanford, Sofia, Patty, Fred, and Schwab for this discussion, because it’s so vital, because these are crises of the moment, but they’re also for the long term. And I’m really glad we have this space to connect with those who are both philanthropic donors and those who care about the underlying causes of these issues.
So to kick us off, the bit about Oxfam, for those who don’t know us, we are a global organization that fights inequality to end poverty and injustice. And we do so by offering life-saving support in times of crisis, and we advocate for economic, gender and climate justice and rights and dignity in these crises. So our work really centers on equal rights and equal treatment, so that everyone can thrive, not just survive, and our belief that the future is equal.
And we can only bring about long-term change to address root causes of poverty and injustice by joining with others, and Patty and Sofia have already talked about that. Sharing efforts and expertise, and partnership is just central to our approach. And through our network of 21 affiliates, we work with more than 4,000 local organizations and allies across more than 90 countries, reaching 25 million people over the last year and drawing from nearly 80 years of experience about what is needed to fight inequality and to mobilize people and resources worldwide to make change happen.
So pivoting over to the Ukrainian crisis, central to our humanitarian response to what’s happening in the Ukrainian crisis are two issues that we’ve already touched on a bit and I know we’ll talk more about today. But, first, while donors of all kinds—individuals, foundations, and donor governments—have really stepped up generously and supported Ukrainians in need, we also need to see a similar level of support from foundations and donor governments for these concurrent and escalating other dire crises that are dramatically underfunded.
So we’re so grateful of the outpouring of support for the crisis in Ukraine. But part of our efforts also are to concurrently draw attention to the massive and escalating humanitarian crises in the horn of Africa—Yemen, Syria, and the Sahel—which are woefully under-supported. And so we’re working with our supporters to help all of us understand the importance, interdependencies and urgency of those crises, and the vital role of philanthropy to assure we save lives now and address the underlying causes of suffering in the medium- and longer-term, not just in Ukraine and around Ukraine, but globally.
And second, we have taken approaches, Oxfam, to this response to assure we’re really living up to longstanding commitments around what we hear terminology around localization, or we like to call local humanitarian leadership. And by that we mean that civil society and governments in these crisis-affected countries, who are the first to respond, most knowledgeable about and proximal to the context, and thus able to provide the most appropriate assistance, we work to assure they have the knowhow and resources to lead humanitarian action with the support of the international community. So real partnerships there.
And while it hasn’t been easy, we really believe it is essential to resist some of the external pressures that could affect the quality of our partnership and local humanitarian leadership commitments. And Patty said earlier that CDP has been kind of holding resources, and that is a very intentional, thoughtful approach of not smothering or crushing organizations with pressures to spend fast instead of spend right, and really support the capacity of local partners.
So just a few more points about what we’re doing specifically, but those are some broader issues that are interconnected.
We’ve heard about the widespread displacement of Ukrainians inside Ukraine and the neighboring countries, and all of the issues, the needs of protection and exploitation that we know that particular communities are extra vulnerable to that have already been mentioned. And those are of particular importance to be mindful of in our response, such as, as Sofia said, the Roma, the LGBTQIA community. And we know we saw people of color, people who are Black and Brown, being turned away at the borders at a key moment in the early days of the crisis.
So in Oxfam’s response thus far, we have focused more on the refugees, the definitions that Patty provided, who fled to Poland, Romania, and Moldova, and also doing some work supporting Ukrainians inside Ukraine with partners. Our aim is to reach between 10- and 25% of the affected population, up to 800,000 people, and more. of course, about what they need.
And to the earlier points, overwhelmingly, we’ve really taken a rigorous approach to holding ourselves accountable to a partner-led, partner-led approach, channeling the support, expertise, funding with 16 local partners, and who might have excellent capacity, but they might not have the experience with the scale and complexity of some of these crises. So we’re bringing some of our core areas of expertise—water, sanitation, hygiene, food, and economic security, the cash piece that Sofia mentioned, and protection, assuring safe programming, protecting people from harm. And always, I know I speak for Sofia and others in the community, guided by humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality and independence, but using a feminist approach that prioritizes ways that prevents risks to women and girls, and informed by the type of gender analyses that Sofia mentioned that CARE and UN Women have done.
MICHAEL: Yeah, I think there’s a lot of importance in that equity aspect that we need to talk about and we’ll unpack a little bit more in the discussion. I also really liked what you were saying, because it echoed what Patty was saying earlier about local expertise, too.
But I want to pivot. When you were referencing some of the other crises going on, it brought about a few questions on the Ukraine crisis that, Patty, I’d like to address to you, which is where do you see aid effectively meeting needs in the current Ukraine crisis? And where do you believe it may be falling short, more importantly? And then where do you think philanthropic support can make the most impact right now?
PATTY: I mean, I think we’ve kind of highlighted, a lot of money went in at the beginning and I... Complex Managed Emergencies, they’re protracted often by definition for years. And so you compare this, again, to a disaster from a natural hazard, the ramifications of the event may last years, but the event is usually over. With a Complex Managed Emergency, the event is still occurring. This is still ongoing. It’s adjusting, adapting. Every day there’s a new earthquake, for example. It’s not as if you have one way to move forward.
And compared to other crises around the world, and I know we’ll touch on this later, Ukraine is incredibly well-funded. I mean, never is enough. I mean, I’m just going to put that out there, there is never enough money for all the needs that are out there. But it has been very well-funded, but it has come with a lot of pressure. And there’s been articles about this and many organizations have talked about this in the past, even CDP’s research, about this real heavy pressure on response, you know, and that truck and chuck-type mindset that reinforces because you have to get in, you have to give away right away, because someone is looking, or you’re going to have an article written about you by The New York Times or The Washington Post saying, ‘Oh, look, they didn’t use their money.’ And what CDP tries to do is say, ‘No, actually, we want them to hold their money.’ Not to like not use it, but to listen, as Sofia said, to try and take time.
You know, Ukraine, we want people to take the long view. And I’ll be honest, the Ukrainians want us to take the long view. You know, whether they’ve stayed or whether they’re returning or whether they’re currently displaced, they are facing depleted resources, destroyed infrastructure, their homes, their jobs, their education, their families. It has been life-altering, and that’s not going to be fixed through a hot meal. It’s not going to be fixed through a shelter program. You know, it’s a big ask of what they require us. And they need us to shift that power of choice, that agency of decision-making on how to assess and respond to their needs into their hands.
Experience has shown... and, again, something CDP, we talk about all the time that this is what’s traditionally called the recovery activities, when we allow the community to take over their agency and to decide what they want. And it’s often not what we would expect, because, again, we are not them. We’re not in their shoes. They have to know what they want. And there will be some, especially, you know, die hard relief folks who will say, ‘No recovery can’t happen yet. We’re still in the midst of the response. We can’t start looking at what these various needs may be.’ I mean, it’s changing, but it’s changing slowly. But as Sofia mentioned, as Abby mentioned, cash is one way that the humanitarian system has started to push that agency, because now I’m not giving you something, I’m giving you something you can use to get what you want, right? So that’s… it’s all about that, that handing it over.
And so recovery, it is now. It is now because it’s not a time, it’s an approach. It’s not about, the difference between a warm meal, which, of course, is critical. If you haven’t had a meal and you’ve just walked 50 miles with your family, you want that meal, but at some point you want to have a kitchen that’s stocked and that you can decide what you want to make for your family. And that’s recovery. That’s not a timeline. That’s an approach. Sometimes yes, you want to go out. Sometimes you want to make food at home, but you want to have that choice.
And so how can philanthropy make an impact in Ukraine right now? Well, give flexible long-term funding, allow the agencies you’ve already researched that you already trust, to do what they know how to do. They’re the experts in this. You know, we’re all armchair experts in everything, especially now with the days of social media and, you know, ability to Google, but, realistically, let’s give them that agency let’s give the organizations the trust, to do their work.
And then, also, you know, trust there… I said this already, but really find agencies that already have a connection to Ukraine. You can’t work with people saying ‘We’re going to work through Ukrainians, give Ukrainian’s voice’ if there are folks who actually don’t work in Ukraine or know Ukraine. So that’s just an important. It seems kind of a no-brainer, but you would be surprised. It’s really critical. There’s a lot of organizations that will just come, and they’re not going to be as good as those who are on the ground and especially the Ukrainian organizations, themselves.
And then, lastly, you know, bringing an end to the conflict in Ukraine is not going to be easy, but it’s also not on the humanitarians to do it. So it’s going to require an enormous amount of political will, and it’s going to need support from everyone to demand an answer for Ukraine. Not to say, ‘Well, as long as there’s something happening, as long as I’ve, you know, given some recovery assistance, it’s done.’ No, Ukraine needs all of us to really also put pressure on our governments to say, ‘We want a solution for Ukraine. We want Ukrainians to be able to return home.’ So it’s about, you know, that.
It’s about also speaking out, listening to what’s being reported, not allowing it to fall off the media’s attention, not allowing it to fall from our attention, and to actually continue to support in the ways we can, new organizations on the ground who are helping in the country.
And then, of course, there’s a lot more than that in terms of needs across the globe, but I’ll pause there, and we can come back to that later, hopefully.
MICHAEL: Well, and I also want to get Sofia and Abby’s perspective on that, too, Patty. But before I do, I just want to go back for one second, and, you know, you talked about the fact there has been a lot of funding that has been going towards Ukraine.
So, Fred, I just want to touch base with you for a second. Can you share some insights into the support that a lot of Schwab Charitable donors have already provided since the war began. Because I think those numbers were rather impressive, from what I remember.
FRED: They’re very impressive, and we’re humbled by the generosity of our donors. And I think it’s important to step back a bit and think about what’s happened to our communities, both domestically and abroad over the last couple of years, and what we’ve faced with respect to the challenges at an unprecedented level—a pandemic, natural disasters, multiple humanitarian crises. And I think it’s important to point out the resilience of donors in spite of this incredible period of time I don’t think that we’ve ever seen before. In 2020, total giving from US sources rose 8%. Even after adjusting for inflation, giving remained at that elevated level through 2021. So think about that for a minute. And think about the commitment and resilience of our donors, and their commitment to, in spite of this volatility, in spite of these extraordinary challenges that we’ve all faced, continuing their levels of support, in fact, increasing it. That, in and of itself, is humbling and extraordinary in our opinion.
As it relates, specifically, to the Ukraine, we have seen an amazing level of incremental support coming from our donors to provide support for relief and recovery of Ukraine. Again, directed through… with the assistance of CDP, to those organizations that are really providing the services at the local level, we’ve seen over $58 million so far in incremental support from our donors to those organizations that are providing relief and recovery to individuals that are most impacted in the Ukraine as a result of the war.
Now, I want to say that it’s great news, and to both… to everybody’s point, Abby, Sofia and Patty, there’s the immediacy of the need when the war broke out, and there’s the immediacy correspondingly of need associated with both people that are displaced and people that are refugees. But now it’s continuing and there’s a growing sustainable need that people are embracing as donors now. It goes beyond that initial support, but we are seeing ongoing levels of generosity and a recognition of that ongoing sustainable need among people that are displaced, countries that are helping to host those people that are impacted, just resources that are stretched across the board.
And, of course, things are becoming more expensive, too. So for example, here, we’re seeing food banks have more and more people showing up domestically for groceries, grocery stores are donating less, and buying food to fill that gap is all the more expensive. Obviously, we’re going to see that heightened level of need and challenge abroad, certainly, as it relates to the issue in Ukraine.
So I think with the assistance of all of these organizations, we are trying to marshal as much support as we can for our donors to have the maximum impact they possibly can, both from an immediate need as it relates to when the war broke out and when the initial crisis and need arose, to an ongoing sustainable need, which is going to be ongoing for the foreseeable future, unfortunately.
MICHAEL: Yeah, I think one of the things that just keeps kind of nagging at the back of my mind whenever we talk about the ongoing need is that , you know, right now there is all of this attention, there’s a lot of popular attention on what’s happening… or certain aspects of what’s happening. And that always makes me wonder like what are the issues that are not receiving enough of the popular attention?
And, Sofia, I’m going to ask you to jump in on this. Can you talk a little bit about what you see as some of the aspects of this crisis or others that are not getting enough popular attention, and as a result, may also not be funded enough as they need to be?
SOFIA: Yes, well, it’s been said, but I think I must repeat it because it’s so serious, and that’s the impact of rising food prices and shortages as a result of the Ukraine crisis on some of the world’s most vulnerable populations, and hunger hotspots like Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, the horn of Africa, west Africa, I could go on. So many of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and hunger hotspots are also huge importers of Ukrainian and Russian wheat. And so they stand to suffer even more due to the Ukraine conflict. And it’s really plunging millions of children, women, men, and boys into malnutrition. So I really wanted to raise that again, because it’s just so severe.
I’m super worried that we already have heard reports from donors, donor governments redirecting funding from other crisis, including the Sahel, and humanitarian appeals are already drastically underfunded, but much is redirected to Ukraine. So, you know, I really want to urge institutional donors, in particular, to maintain and where necessary increased funding for development and humanitarian aid everywhere.
But may I also say, when you say what is getting the kind of the short stick, you know, it’s actually quite… I can’t... you know, sometimes I wake up and kind of can’t believe it, because we are talking again about hunger, pandemics, and wars. And those were the big problems of, you know, early last century. And now it feels like we are back to, you know, hunger, pandemic, and war, like 100 years ago. And I’m thinking, well, other 100 years ago, that have not gone away, like climate change. Climate change very clearly, you know, knows no borders for which we need collective, you know, global solutions. We need to be together in this. AI, you know, artificial intelligence, and what that will do to many jobs, particularly in the global south, you know, and what that will mean for hunger. So it feels like we are dealing at the same time with the problems of last century and these additional problems, and somehow we are back to where we were, and are not paying enough attention to those problems that are equally problematic and will increase hunger, and need and humanitarian crisis in the world, such as climate change.
May I also say maybe wildly solidarity and generosity of many countries in which Ukrainians are seeking refuge has been just extraordinary, exemplary, and inspiring. I would also like to ask because it’s a big issue that it’s absolutely crucial that all refugees and asylum seekers to be treated equally and offered the same protection and opportunities regardless of the country of their origin. And I really hope that the support to the people of Ukraine can serve as an example going forward for those fleeing war and persecution in other dire humanitarian crises around the world, because it is hard to be a refugee. I can attest to that, since I grew up as one. But it’s surely easier to be a refugee in Poland or another European Union country, which have strong social security system safety nets than in Kenya or Rohingyas in Bangladesh. So let us not forget about the solidarity to all refugees and migrants and displaced people everywhere in the world, regardless of where they come from. I wanted to add that, as well.
So refugees, climate change, and all the other topics piling up on top of, you know, those big ones that we thought we had not fully overcome, but that we would not live to this extent as we are, you know, living it now and that are back. So it’s enormous, and it’s huge, and it requires from all of us, you know, more solidarity and empathy than ever.
MICHAEL: It’s an excellent point about solidarity and empathy, especially as we think of other humanitarian crises happening right now. I also just had to… for a second, when you were talking about how we’ve seen this 100 years ago, I just can’t help but think, you know, like 100 years ago, the only difference was we saw a massive armed conflict in Europe, followed by a pandemic. And this time we just reversed it, you know, now we had the pandemic first followed by the conflict.
Abby, I’m going to jump ahead. I was going to ask you if you wanted to add any more points on the questions about like food insecurity or other ramifications of what’s happening in Ukraine and other parts of the world. But I also want to make sure we have time to touch upon the idea of the importance of proximate leadership in it, too. So if you could just like a couple of quick thoughts on the first, and then I’d like to move into that second point with you if we can.
ABBY: Yeah. Thanks, Michael. And it, really, just building on Sofia’s point about hunger, pandemics, wars, and the importance, so importance of solidarity and empathy, is just so huge.
And, you know, maybe the only point I’ll add, because we’ve seen the interconnections. I think everyone on this webinar understands the interplay between, the cost of food and fuel and fertilizer and the supply chains that are being disrupted that are exacerbating risks that were already triggered by COVID, conflict, and climate. And so we know that those who are already hungry and struggling and suffering are being disproportionately affected, but, also, in many ways, the hidden neglected crises around that.
And so the point I’d want to make here is, you know, we know the world produces enough food for everyone, even with the current instability in the Black Sea region. And I would argue to Sofia’s point about what was happening 100 years ago, there is no acceptable reason that people are going hungry in the 21st century. And it’s really easy to blame today’s food crisis solely on the war in Ukraine, because it’s shining the light on some of these issues, but there’s no doubt it’s being super-charged by it. And, you know, the long standing political failure to address how we feed all people in the world has really made our food system susceptible to fragility and failure well before now. And I would just say that the cost of in action on both human lives are common humanity and financially are massive. And, you know, when we talk about philanthropy taking action now, the generous giving that we saw at the outset of the Ukraine crisis is essential to save lives and in investing in the issues in the long term, that will save money, and, more importantly, human lives.
So there’s that interplay that I really want to underscore about, you know, the cost of inaction versus what we need to do, our moral and human commitments to both saving lives now and addressing the long-term needs.
I can… yeah, go ahead.
MICHAEL: So… yeah. No, I was going to say, if you can also… can we just move into, you know, like what we were talking about before, the idea that many organizations, including Oxfam, have made commitments to focusing humanitarian systems towards local humanitarian leadership. How does that commitment play out in this crisis? What does that, specifically, mean for you? And, of course, Sofia, Patty, if you both want to jump in on that too, feel free to.
ABBY: Yeah. Great. I’m so glad that’s being highlighted, and Patty and Sofia. I think we’re all big… very, very committed to this and bringing attention around it. And thanks, Michael, for setting it up. You know, our vision of local humanitarian leadership is really about strong local and national humanitarian actors, whether government, civil society, and countries affected by crises are truly in the driver’s seat, ensuring that interventions are based on needs and contribute to sustainable results. And Patty talked about that, you know, the listening, it’s been highlighted already. But in the Ukraine crisis, we’ve been very deliberate about this principle and our work there, because the temptation and the pressures that have already been referred to could have forced us to kind of stampede in, if you will. And the need to hold back to really listen and establish deep partnerships and look at the quality of the partnership can’t be understated. And I think there are real... you know, there’s standards for humanitarian action on speed and scale, which are not unimportant, but I think that the approach, the pressures from the system and some donors around some of those standards can often contribute to international NGOs coming in, taking over, despite the rhetoric and commitments, and the spirit of more balanced and equal partnerships.
So these traditional approaches have placed counterproductive pressure on local and international implementing organizations alike to spend quickly at the expense of the deep, long game that Patty mentioned, the strong partner-led approach, which is the approach we have deliberately taken, and it’s really tested us organizationally. It’s been hard to hold back the impulse to act, to do, to be able to listen and to slow down, to ensure that the cascading issues around protection, about safe programming, about listening deeply, and coming in in the right way to make sure that the work and the partnership is with them over the long term for quality and impact.
Why don’t I stop there? And I know… I have so much more to say about that, but we want more time.
MICHAEL: I know. And I’m starting to realize that we’re already to like the last 10 minutes or so of our webinar, and I want to… you know, we have a ton of questions that have come in from the audience both before we started and during the live session. So I’m going to… as much as I do want to hear Sophia, from you and Patty, on this point of proximate leadership, too, I want to get to a couple of other questions as well, quickly, if we can.
Patty, one important thing, before I jump into the audience questions, we’ve talked about this before, but we know that this situation in Ukraine is hardly the only humanitarian crisis that we face today, and, sadly, it certainly won’t be the last. How can donors prepare to provide this sort of long term support as crises, you know, continue to... as existing crises go on and as new crises emerge at the same time? Whoop, Patty, we lost your sound.
PATTY: Sorry, that’s on me. It’s a great question. And, I mean, this is the… first, before I get into that, I just want to thank everyone who gives. I mean, just… it’s been an incredibly difficult few years for everyone. We know, you know, inflation is also high and yet still we’re seeing those numbers and that giving happen, and people… and continue to care and to give. And I just… you know, heartfelt thanks for all of those on the receiving end of those funds for people for their generosity. It makes a huge difference. Even if you can’t always see it, it makes an enormous difference in the lives of so many people around this world.
I think the other thing I would really say in terms of there’s so many choices, and, actually, I have an article coming out about this soon, so I’ll share it with you guys and you can hopefully share it around when it comes out. But how do you make choices? And I think what I would say is you don’t need to overthink it. Probably who you’re already giving to, the mission… things that connect you already, the missions you already connect with, the organizations you already connect with. They may be global, or it’s a country that you really committed to and you already have a national organization. Sometimes it’s… the additionality isn’t spread, right? It could just be more to the same. It could be looking at giving differently, giving more sustainably towards recovery, making it a multi-year grant, or, you know, a sustaining gift, or just changing how you give. You know, a lot of why people give in the first place, you know, CDP’s done research on this, there’s three main… you know, there’s, of course, empathy, but there’s three main drivers to how people choose to give. You know, one is personal proximity to the disaster, another is scale, and the third is media coverage. And what I would say is if you want to know how to make a difference, put those three things aside. Let those be your extras. Don’t make them be your main driver, because that would show that there’s like that long-term commitment towards disaster giving, that long-term commitment towards how… and it doesn’t have to be a lot. People can, you know, give what’s within your means, but make it a planned give, make it a give that allows the organization to do what they can with it.
You know, in the research we’ve done, the majority… there’s… not a whole lot of philanthropy goes into disaster giving to start with. But even then, only 6% goes towards reconstruction and recovery, 6% of all disaster giving goes towards that long-term. So if you could make an enormous difference today by changing your funding towards long term, towards that longer mindset, and towards saying to the organizations who you already work with, ‘I’m not going to tell you what country to give it to. I’m not going to tell you what community to work in or what sector. I believe in you and I’m going to let you figure out where the needs are because you know what’s underfunded, you know where this philanthropic dollars can make a difference.’
So those are things… I mean, again, it’s about…it all gets to trust. We want the… and we talked about local humanitarian leadership. A huge part of that is trust. Giving trust. Stop assuming that, you know, a national organization is cheaper to work with, or more, you know, at risk of corruption, or, you know, all these myths we convince ourselves of that are not proven. The same… we need to give trust for that to work. We need to say we’re going to challenge that. It’s the same with that longer term giving. We need to trust the organizations in that.
And I’ll just close it with like… and that multi-year aspect, right? So trust them and then try and give them that multi-year and allow them to look at is it Yemen? Is it South Sudan? Is it Ukraine? Is it Louisiana during the hurricanes? Is it wildfires? Whatever… in California, whatever it may be, you find what means something to you and you give to the organizations that are working in those areas, and you give them over the long haul.
FRED: And, Patty, if I could interject really… Michael, really quickly.
MICHAEL: Yeah. Go ahead, Fred.
FRED: I’d love to add one other point. Everything you said, and provide our donors sort of with a mechanism for giving with maximum efficiency. So, for example, if they have something right now, if they have an event that provides… where they have a lot of resources available now, rather than feeling the need and pressure to get it out right away, they can do it in a really efficient manner with something like a donor-advised fund, whereby they can donate to the donor-advised fund, they grow those assets while they’re in the account over time, and that means they have more assets to give both to those charitable causes that they support on an ongoing basis. And those charitable causes that arise as a result of humanitarian crises, war, natural disasters, and so forth. I would just interject and add that one point that, you know, helping donors to really give with maximum efficiency and really have the maximum impact that they could possibly have with their generous support, regardless of whether it’s an ongoing charitable cause they support or an episodic one.
MICHAEL: Thank you, Fred. And I also want to thank you, Patty, for the point that you made about concerns about corruption and things like that, because that has been coming up in some of the questions that we’ve been seeing from the audience, too.
I want to jump ahead and ask Sophia and Abby out of the questions, again, that we’ve gotten from the audience. A theme that’s come up in quite a few is, are there any innovative solutions, or new systems, or things that this crisis or recent crises have caused your organizations to develop, or even just, you know, the success in additional fundraising around this crisis, but that will help inform future efforts of what you’re doing? And, Sophia, can I ask you to go first?
SOFIA: Yes, of course. And thank you. I mean, there’s actually a long list because we never cease learning. You know, and when I see where the sector was like 30 years ago when I started this line of work and where it is now with, you know, the innovations that we have taken on, it’s super important. But I would say, I mean, more than ever, we see now in this particular crisis, also, and there’s a lot of trust from donors for that, and trust as Fred just indicated, is so essential in this, it’s cash, you know, it’s really cash, because it’s also about the dignity of people, of trusting. Let’s talk about trust. Trusting people to decide what is best for them, you know, rather than coming in a traditional way, we know better, and, you know, we have been helping them, you know, for two years now and very intensively so, and rightly so around decolonizing our sector, you know, the top down, the white savior vision that, you know, we may come with solutions that we think are good for you. But we trust the people of Ukraine, of Yemen, of Ethiopia, of, you know, what is best for them. The individuals that know whether, as Patty say, want to invest in the kitchen or, you know, want to be on the move. And many people are now on the move, like we are seeing in Ukraine, multiple times. You know, they left to Poland, they’re coming back. We don’t know whether they just went back for kind of the Northern hemisphere, hemisphere summer season. And when schooling starts, they may be back in Poland. I mean, we don’t know that. So let’s trust the people with cash assistance. I think that’s very, very important.
If I may say, you know, I… supporting women led organizations, local women-led organizations, to me, that’s super critical. You know, we have seen incredible results when we support feminist women-led organizations that support those most in need very, very effectively.
And, of course, you know, we have seen also in this crisis that often in-kind support is very well meant with very good intention, but we have seen now how it ends up, you know, filling landfills and at huge transportation costs, another advantage of cash. So we’ve seen this. And in Haiti, Abby and I worked very closely together many, many years back. And, you know, we see that all over again, you know, where sometimes when we come with huge cost in terms of transportation, in terms of logistics, it’s not necessary what we need to invigorate markets and trust the people that we serve, that they make the right choices for their own lives. And it’s with so much greater dignity.
MICHAEL: Abby, anything to add from Oxfam’s point of view?
ABBY: Thanks. I know we’re at time and they’re sort of resounding yes and yes and yes, I want to add. But there is something really deep and important. You know, when we talk about innovation, it’s not just the sexy, slick stuff. It’s actually applying approaches that work that we know, applying the learning that Sophia talked about. It’s a little painful. And Patty and Sophia and I have all worked together in this space for three decades. And to watch what we know isn’t the right thing, and you watch it play out in other places. And so the rigor we’re trying to bring to the organizations we lead to apply those good practices, to, you know, not just talk the talk, but walk it, do things right and do the right thing. And that is sometimes applying what we know with real rigor and discipline. The cash, the working with the small marginalized organizations, those with disabilities, those who are not the ones who are ready to scale really big, but that requires a different pace and a different listening and different patience and a different risk tolerance and a different conversation around compliance. Not that compliance and stewardship aren’t important. Of course, they’re vital. And how do we do that work together and differently to create a new set of standards for what good practice and standards are?
MICHAEL: That’s great. Fred, I just want to give you a chance. Any closing thoughts for our listeners as they think about, especially those donors in the audience, or even, you know, grant-making foundations that are thinking about incorporating what we’ve heard today into their giving strategy now and in the future?
FRED: I would just say I just am honored to be in the webinar with all of these speakers, and the tremendous work that you all do to support these needs on behalf of our donors and the people most impacted. Thank you.
My only point would, basically, to be reemphasizing everything Abby and Sophia and Patty said today. It’s a long-term game. There’s a real sustained ongoing long-term need. And we want to provide donors with the tools and the mechanisms and the structures to be able to give with maximum efficiency and achieve maximum impact, both on the immediate needs and on the long-term needs. So to that end, I would just suggest that donors really think about it from both perspectives, and consider how they can give thoughtfully and strategically to really achieve that maximum impact.
MICHAEL: Well, and as much as I would… I mean, we could have easily done another hour with this conversation because I had my questions, some of my questions, which we haven’t even had a chance to get to, and there’s plenty more of the audience questions we haven’t had a chance to get to yet, but, unfortunately, we do need to wrap up. So I do want to take a moment and thank you each Abby, Sophia, Patty, Fred, all of you, for sharing your time on this, and for really giving us quite a bit of not only insight, but quite a bit to think about as a result of... or about what we should be doing and what some of the long-term issues related to not only this crisis, but others are. So thank you, all.
SOFIA: Thank you.
PATTY: Thank you very much.
ABBY: Thank you. It was so great to be together.
FRED: Thank you very much.
MICHAEL: So thank you, all, for joining us. We’re going to put up a slide in a second that our panelists were kind enough to help contribute to that has a list of resources that you can use to, hopefully, get to answers to some of the questions we didn’t get a chance to discuss in our conversation today.
And, with that, thank you all very much.