As we watch the war in Ukraine from half a world away, many Americans are wondering what they can do to help the Ukrainian people.
Of course, there are standard NGOs and non-profit organizations like the Red Cross, Amnesty International and the International Rescue Committee that organize help for refugees inside and outside the country. But not everyone feels comfortable putting their donation money into one big, pooled pot. Some people want to know exactly where their money is going and who it is helping.
And some people are finding creative ways to do it through personal “gig economy” platforms like Etsy and Airbnb.
Here’s how they do it:
For one, they are people Book Airbnb stays in Ukraine for the coming days which they obviously won’t use and tell the hosts to keep the money. When you book on Airbnb, you can read the hosts’ profiles and reviews to get an idea of who they are, if they have children, etc. Some people rent out private rooms in their own homes, while others own property that they rent, but it’s easy to see who you’re renting from. Booking also connects you directly to the host so you can message each other.
The responses from people who have done this are both heartbreaking and beautiful.
Quentin Quarantino’s Instagram account, which has been used for huge crowdfunding efforts, shared the idea and the reactions some Ukrainian followers received when they did so. There were also some tips such as B. Booking dates coming up soon, as payments are not forwarded to the host until the booking date arrives.
You can click the right arrow to scroll through all the screenshots, but here are some of them:
Besides Airbnb, it’s people also with Etsy to give to Ukrainian people directly by buying from Ukrainian sellers. Some people have pointed out that sellers who sell digital files—educational or decorative prints, sewing or knitting patterns, etc.—can benefit from making sales without being aware that someone wants something delivered.
That’s how it’s done:
1. Go to Esty.com and type “digital files” in the search box
2. Click All Filters and scroll down to Country
3. Under Custom, enter Ukraine.
You can use the country filter for any item sold on Etsy, but you’ll need to type in the search bar before the filter option will appear. When placing an order for a physical item, simply let the seller know in advance that you don’t expect them to ship anything, you just want to provide them with financial and moral support.
This is a good opportunity to personalize your donation to more than just a personal message. For example, if you have a crochet hobby, you can search for “crochet” and then filter on Ukraine to support another crochet mate. It may sound silly, but these simple human connections are meaningful, especially when people are confronted with inhumanity.
The situation in Ukraine is dire and while it is important to support large-scale aid programs that have experience in getting people in crisis the help they need, there is more than one way to help. Sometimes putting cash straight into the pockets of people who have just lost their livelihoods to war and who may need funds to leave the country or source supplies to help them stay safe can make a significant difference.
The beauty of sites like Airbnb and Etsy is that they allow us to connect directly with local people and help them in a way that reminds us all of the humanity that comes first.
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