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How crypto turned into alternative to fund support for Ukrainians on the ground

Crypto Ukraine
Image credit: Canva

Cryptocurrency is making steps towards becoming an alternative mechanism of fundraising for humanitarian aid. In Ukraine, amid Russia’s invasion, donations in crypto towards Ukrainian NGos and volunteering groups in support of the national army have soared, reaching $4 million.

A report by blockchain analytics firm Elliptic shows just how much crypto has grown as the method of choice for fundraising by Ukrainian NGOs and volunteer groups that are helping the military. Volunteering groups have been supporting the Ukrainian army for a long while, provisioning soldiers with weapons and medical supplies.

More than $570K has been channeled to these groups through hundreds of crypto donations in 2021, an increase of 900% from the previous year. But following the Russian invasion, donations in cryptocurrency went off the chart. Using crypto has helped donors reach some of the groups blocked by traditional financial institutions. 

Come Back Alive, one of the largest Ukrainian NGOs , has been accepting crypto assets since 2018. The group is helping the military with equipment, training services, and medical supplies, as well as helped develop a drone reconnaissance and targeting systems for artillery units.

In the months preceding the Russian invasion, the NGO saw a spike in Bitcoin donations, raising close to $200K in the second half of 2021.

On February 24 alone, however, the NGO received over $675K in Bitcoin. By February 25, at 9:30 a.m. that figure reached $3.4M.

Some backlashes have followed, nonetheless, with Patreon controversially removing the foundation’s page and main source for collecting donations from foreigners. Patreon explained their decision to ban the support of military equipment purchasing.

Crypto and NFTs channeled towards donations, while crypto prices are plummeting

For Russians opposing President Putin’s recent actions, these past two days have been challenging and many have reached out in solidarity. Recently, Russian political activist and founder of Pussy Riot, Nadya Tolokonnikova, announced the launch of UkraineDAO, a decentralized autonomous organization aimed to raise money for Ukraine using Ethereum NFTs. The project was joined by Trippy Labs and members of PleasrDAO.

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“Our goal is to raise funds to donate to Ukrainian civilian organizations who help those suffering from the war that Putin started in Ukraine. We’ll be buying an NFT of Ukrainian flag,” shares the team at Pussy Riot on Twitter.

Media in Ukraine is now also accepting cryptocurrency donations. The Kyiv Independent, reporting in English on business, politics, and technology in Ukraine and Eastern Europe, have announced on Twitter that they are accepting crypto in their fundraising campaigns, along with traditional money.

Crypto donations have also been channeled towards The Ukrainian Cyber Alliance, a group of hacktivists who have been launching cyberattacks against Russian propaganda websites since 2016, and sharing intelligence with Ukrainian governmental agencies. The group’s public fundraising efforts rely exclusively on crypto assets.

Meanwhile, the cryptocurrency market, already falling in the last few months, has plunged further within hours after the Russian invasion. The market lost $160 billion in value in the first 24 hours since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Even so, the most recent decisions by The National Bank of Ukraine to limit cash withdrawal, suspend the foreign exchange market, as well as suspend the issuance of e-money (Ed.note real money in electronic wallets) further makes the case for turning to cryptocurrencies.


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Antoanela is a Sustainability Communications Specialist and Deputy Editor at The Recursive media. From these roles, she is helping organizations communicate their latest sustainability goals, strategies, and technologies. She writes about climate tech, ESG, impact investment, sustainability regulation, and related topics.