What 10 Nonprofits Are Doing to Aid Ukraine and Its Refugees

With the war raging on for an eighth day in Ukraine, numerous nonprofits are stepping up by providing medical supplies, food, cash assistance and other essentials for those fighting in Ukraine and those fleeing to neighboring countries. The United Nations has indicated one million Ukrainians have fled their country thus far — a number that could elevate to four million if the fighting continues. A total of 10 million are predicted to be forced to flee their homes throughout the country. 

Nonprofits have been critical of the attacks on civilians. Though civilian casualty numbers vary and authorities admittedly say an exact number is difficult to determine, nonprofits have remained vocal in citing international law and the need for a humanitarian corridor so help can reach those injured or civilians trying to leave the country. 

While there are many more notable organizations working on the humanitarian crisis, here is a look at what 10 of your nonprofit peers are doing to support Ukraine.


CARE is raising money via its Ukraine Crisis Fund to reach 4 million Ukrainians — especially prioritizing women and girls, families, and the elderly — with immediate aid, including food, water, hygiene kits, psychosocial support and cash assistance. It’s teaming up with People in Need to coordinate efforts. The first trucks with supplies of food, hygiene items, diapers, sleeping bags and mats, departed Tuesday.

“The population in eastern Ukraine has been suffering from the conflict for almost eight years now,” Sofía Sprechmann Sineiro, CARE’s International Secretary General, said in a statement. “Every day is a fight for survival. Besides fear of attacks and violence, millions of people have no access to essential resources and services. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbates the situation.”

2. Direct Relief

Over the past six months, Direct Relief has supplied $26 million in aid to Ukraine. Since the conflict began, Direct Relief has worked directly with the country’s Ministry of Health to provide 360 emergency medical backpacks for first responders and $500,000 in medical support to Ukraine and surrounding countries that are receiving refugees.

“Right now, the types of items being urgently requested indicate they are dealing with severe, acute injuries,” Alycia Clark, Direct Relief’s director of pharmacy and clinical affairs, said in a statement. “The medications and supplies are typically utilized in a critical care setting.”

3. International Committee of the Red Cross

Ukraine is among the top 10 largest operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross with more than 600 staffers working with the Ukrainian Red Cross. The nonprofit provides refugees emergency assistance, such as food, water and other essential items, and healthcare facilities with medical equipment and emergency preparedness. In addition, it repairs water stations, supports households to rehabilitate their damaged homes and reconnects families separated by the conflict.

On it’s website, it detailed its current challenges:

However, given the hostilities, we are not able to move needed supplies because of blocked roads and insecurity. This is an extremely dangerous time for families caught in the fighting, and a dangerous time for aid organizations too. As soon as we do move aid in, the top priorities will be medical supplies and shelter material (tarpaulin, blankets).

4. International Rescue Committee

With a history of responding to humanitarian crises, the International Rescue Committee is on the ground in Ukraine and Poland supporting those fleeing the war. Yesterday, it teamed up with the Disasters Emergency Committee and launched an emergency response for Ukraine. Uber also announced it is matching donations through its app for the International Rescue Committee, up to $1 million.

“We truly hope we can avert disaster and avoid the human suffering we will inevitably see if this conflict continues to escalate,” Lani Fortier, the International Rescue Committee’s senior director of emergencies, said in a statement. “However, the IRC is ready and preparing for the worst. We are working to quickly mobilize resources and connect with partners to establish a response that will provide lifesaving support to civilians forced to flee their homes. We will work to respond where we are needed the most and with the services that are needed urgently. Whatever the needs are, we are preparing to meet them.”

5. Médecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders)

In Mariupol, Ukraine, teams from Médecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) has distributed medical kits and provided telemedicine trauma care training for 30 surgeons from eastern Ukraine.

However, many hospitals have limited staff and supplies and those shortages have been exacerbated  due to an influx of wounded patients. Therefore, Médecins Sans Frontieres is rushing new shipments of emergency medical supplies — including its few remaining medical stocks for emergency surgery and trauma care — for facilities in areas where there is active fighting. 
Additionally, the organization will send more experienced medical staff in addition to providing trauma care training to staff in the country via telemedicine. The nonprofit will continue to assess the country’s needs and the feasibility to reach additional cities, such as Odessa, Mykolaiv or Kherson.

The nonprofit also has a presence outside of the country with teams in Poland, Moldova, Romania, Russia and Belarus to assess medical humanitarian needs for those crossing the border. It is currently ramping up efforts in Poland where it donated items to a reception shelter and assisted refugees suffering from exhaustion, dehydration or hypothermia after their long journeys to cross the border.

6. Project HOPE

Project HOPE has tapped into its social followings to raise more than $237,000 from hundreds of social media fundraisers on platforms such as Twitter and Discord. The nonprofit began tackling health challenges in Ukraine in 2002, and has cited pharmacies and stores in Kyiv are empty, and hospitals and health facilities have reported serious shortages of medical supplies. The organization has been sourcing and shipping essential medicines and medical supplies, including hygiene kits, Interagency Emergency Health Kits and insulin.

Its teams on the ground are assessing medical facilities in and near Dnepro, Ukraine as well as determining the needs at the border and readying pharmaceuticals, medicines and medical supplies in Krakow, Poland; Bucharest, Romania; and Chisinau, Moldova. Tom Cotter, Project HOPE’s director of emergency response, shared the status at the Romanian border:

7. Save the Children

Save the Children estimates at least 400,000 children are fleeing Ukraine with nothing more than the clothes on their backs and at risk of hunger, illness, trafficking and abuse. The organization’s Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund will provide lifesaving assistance to children and families, like a woman who stayed at a temporary camp with her 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son before moving to a reception center where Save the Children runs child-friendly spaces. She told the organization she fled Ukraine with her children in hopes of reaching the Czech Republic where her friends live.

“On the way, we saw planes overhead, and the roads were very busy,” she told the nonprofit. “We saw rockets being fired and destroying buildings. Sirens were constantly blaring. My husband stayed behind. He drove us to the border before going back. We could only bring a few clothes and some medicines.”


UNICEF is helping children in Ukraine, as well as surrounding counties. Services include health care, psychosocial support, protection, education, water and sanitation, as well as the establishment of 26 “Blue Dot” safe spaces along transit routes that can each  provide services to 3,000 to 5,000 people per day. The nonprofit estimates 500,000 of refugees from Ukraine are children.

Sophia, 19, fled her home in Chernivtsi, Ukraine, with her sister, Tania, and her niece — Tania’s daughter — Mia, 2. They crossed the border into Romania on Feb. 27 and were headed to Spain to stay with an uncle until it’s safe to return.

“It was a decision [to leave] taken in just a few moments because the situation in Ukraine is very hard and you don’t know what will be in the next minute — nobody feels safe now in Ukraine,” the 19-year-old told the nonprofit.

9. USA for the UN Refugee Agency

The USA for the UN Refugee Agency estimates one million people have already fled Ukraine while predicting four million in total will be forced to leave if the conflict continues. The organization is distributing emergency supply kits with necessary items, such as thermal blankets and water cans, and setting up transit centers in neighboring countries to assess the needs of refugees.

Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds announced a $1 million matching gift for the organization on Feb. 26, which was met within 48 hours. 

“Our heartfelt thanks and gratitude to Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively for pledging $1 million in support of families from Ukraine who have been forced to flee for their lives,” Anne-Marie Grey, executive director and CEO of the USA for the UN Refugee Agency, said in a statement. “In less than 48 hours, their compassion inspired thousands of Americans to donate and show newly displaced families that they are not alone.”

10. World Central Kitchen

World Central Kitchen has been serving hot meals to refugees at a 24-hour pedestrian border crossing in southern Poland since Feb. 24. It has since increased its efforts by adding services at eight accommodation centers in multiple countries, including Poland, Romania and Moldova. Meals include a traditional Polish soup called Żurek that is made with white sausage, smoked meat and sour fermented rye flour. As of Wednesday, the organization reported serving 41,000 meals so far in coordination with 26 restaurants in Poland.

The organization is working to create partnerships in Romania, but for now is preparing meals at the border in a food trailer. It has also started operations at the Chișinău Airport in Moldova with plans to expand there and possibly into Hungary and Slovakia as well. 

Additionally, the nonprofit has partnered with Ukrainian restaurants to serve hot meals to those in need in five Ukrainian cities, including Kharkiv, Kherson, Kyiv and Lviv. Despite Kherson reportedly being under Russian control and active fighting occurring in the other cities, World Central Kitchen continues to serve the cities’ residents. Nate Mook, World Central Kitchen’s CEO, tweeted about partners baking bread in Kharkiv.