The Russia-Ukraine conflict has created an enormous humanitarian crisis, and people around the world want to know how to help. Jo-Anne Ryan, Executive Director of the Private Giving Foundation and Vice President, Philanthropic Advisory Services, TD Wealth, joins Kim Parlee to talk about best ways to give to Ukraine right now.
- The Russia-Ukraine crisis has created an enormous humanitarian crisis, and people all around the world are trying to figure out ways they can help. Jo-Anne Ryan is Executive Director of the Private Giving Foundation and Vice President of Philanthropic Advisory Services at TD Wealth. She always has great insights on how people can help other people, and she joins us now.
Jo-Anne, great to have you with us. I'm going to jump right in. I know you have been involved in helping people figure this out. So what is needed in Ukraine right now? What would you say are the priorities?
- Well, thanks for having me, Kim. Right now Ukraine is in need of humanitarian aid, and that is everything from water, food, medicine, shelter. And as people are leaving Ukraine, refugees need places to live and all kinds of things-- food, clothing-- to get established elsewhere.
We also recently saw sick children who are in desperate need of medical attention. And we saw children's hospitals in Canada, such as Sick Kids, actually take in children who need treatment-- in this case, it was cancer treatment-- and also provide housing for their families. So the needs continue to evolve.
One of the things we've seen with the Private Giving Foundation-- as you know, our Donor-Advised Fund Program-- it's a perfect vehicle to support this crisis. As you know, when you donate to a donor-advised fund, you've given the money away irrevocably. I call them donate now, decide later. So the funds are sitting in a charitable account. You've already received a charity tax receipt for that.
And so when a crisis arises like this, you're in the perfect position to redirect funds to one of the humanitarian aid organizations that are doing terrific work there. And I've been very humbled to see the generosity of the donors with the Private Giving Foundation who, every day, are sending funds to some of these organizations doing great work.
- It's such a great way to describe it, Jo-Anne, donate now, decide later. I'm going to steal that from you and talk about it on that way forward. I've got about three minutes here and I want to run through a few things.
I know I've seen some drives for things, people dropping off blankets, even things like bulletproof vests. Is that helpful?
- Well, I mean, everything is helpful. But if you want to be really efficient with your giving, I would strongly suggest consider giving cash, or funds, or securities to some of the humanitarian aid organizations. When you give blankets or clothing, you have to understand that it takes-- it's very labor intensive to collect those items, to sort them, to ship them, to get them to people in need, and hopefully those are the items that they need.
When you're dealing with a large humanitarian organization, they're able to very quickly resource what they need. They can do it very economically. They can get it at really good prices. And they can get it to the people in need the quickest. So I would say the priority would be, at this stage, to get cash to some of those organizations.
- I've seen some friends I know even talking about how they booked Airbnb rooms, and of course, don't expect to go, just to get money there. Again, is that effective? Or the other ways you're talking about are probably better?
- Well, it's very creative, and I can see why people do it because they want to get funds into the hands of people immediately. But you have to understand those types of giving vehicles, similar to crowdfunding, they're not registered charities. You don't get a donation receipt.
But you don't know where the funds are actually going to end up because if you give to a registered charity, there is a watchdog called Canada Revenue Agency. We all know CRA. And they are watching over. And so the charities have to be transparent in terms of how the funds are used, what they're used for.
And if a charity isn't doing what they're supposed to do, CRA can shut them down. They can revoke their charitable status. So I feel a lot more comfortable giving to a registered charity where I know where the funds are going to end up and there is transparency, as opposed to giving and having it just be very unknown.
- Yeah. So again, given that, what are some of the ones you know, that you're confident in terms of making sure that the money is being used the right way and ones that you're familiar with?
- So the Canadian Red Cross. Everybody knows the Red Cross. They do really great work. They are very skilled at getting resources together and deploying them quickly to where they are needed.
UNHCR is actually an agency of the United Nations, and they provide really great assistance to refugees. And another one that I would suggest you consider is Humanitarian Coalition. And that is a coalition of 12 international aid organizations who have all come together.
And I love it when charities collaborate like that, as opposed to competing. And you probably know a lot of the names as part of that, such as Plan Canada International, Oxfam, World Vision. All of them do really, really terrific work.
- Jo-Anne, thank you for your terrific work and thanks for joining us.
- Thanks for having me.