Foundations and the war in Ukraine

10 March 2022

The war in Ukraine is leading to the biggest refugee and humanitarian crisis in Europe since the Second World War. Thousands have been killed or injured, millions displaced and hospitals, schools and housing destroyed. 

Many in foundations are thinking about what their role might be, whether in the immediate humanitarian relief effort or over the longer-term. We’ve pulled together some advice and information about how to help and things that foundations should be thinking about as the war and the wider crisis continues over the coming months.

How you might help right now
The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal for Ukraine has raised £120m so far. DEC brings together 15 leading UK aid charities to raise funds quickly and efficiently at times of crisis overseas, working with partners in affected countries. Before committing funding in this way foundations should look at their charitable purposes to check they can fund work like DEC’s or other agencies. 

The UN humanitarian financing mechanisms include the Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) and  Country Based Pooled Funds — managed by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs). OCHA, via reliefweb, will also publish regular situation reports for those looking for further information on the crisis and movements of people.   

Over 2 million people are now refugees across Europe. While few have been admitted to the UK so far, the number is expected to grow into potentially hundreds of thousands. The ONS have published provisional data on where those born in Ukraine and neighbouring countries live to help local authorities and others plan support: CT21_0001 - Office for National Statistics (

Those working in the asylum and migration sector are starting to plan for future needs. As part of this, the Justice Together funder collaboration are seeking emergency funding for the legal advice needs of Ukrainians — see the Funders Collaborative Hub for more details (Justice Together | Funders Collaborative Hub). The Funders Collaborative Hub will also be able to share information on collaborations related to Ukraine as these develop. 

Sharing information and advice
Some of ACF’s member networks will be sharing information on the invasion of Ukraine and its consequences for their work. Any ACF member can attend a meeting of the networks. The asylum, refugee & migration network is meeting on 17 March to discuss the Nationality and Borders Bill — overview, latest developments and what happens next. The international funders network meets in early April to discuss international grant-making in crisis situations. Information on network meetings is at Attend an event ( We will share any other relevant meetings with members in our usual communication channels.  

Europe-wide response to the war in Ukraine
Philea, the network for European philanthropy, is working to coordinate responses from foundations across Europe, particularly after the initial emergency humanitarian phase. We will share information on their initiatives as they develop. In the meantime, Philea is listing activity from foundations at Philea stands in solidarity with Ukraine - Philea

Advice on sanctions and cyber threats 
The UK’s measures against Russia may impact on foundations, as could potentially Russian counter-moves. The UK has sanctions in place affecting Russian individuals and organisations and on some trade and financial activity. There is guidance for charities on sanctions at Financial sanctions: guidance - GOV.UK ( Specific guidance on the new Russian sanctions is at UK sanctions relating to Russia - GOV.UK (

The National Cyber Security Centre has issued advice to organisations to bolster their cyber defences following Russia’s attack on Ukraine. You can read their guidance here: NCSC advises organisations to act following Russia’s... - NCSC.GOV.UK. It could well be that organisations that are vocal against Russia could be targeted, and others have speculated that Russian hackers could use ransomware attacks on western companies and institutions to raise foreign currency. ACF was already planning an event with the National Cyber Security Centre on cyber security for foundations and we will share information on this soon.

Impact on the UK and other countries

The UK is not a neutral in the war. As well as supplying significant arms, the UK has been consistently ramping up its sanctions on Russia. Sanctions and uncertainty are driving up oil and gas prices, making Russian oil and gas that is still sold to Europe more profitable, and therefore likely to lead to the UK and EU imposing more sanctions to offset the additional foreign currency going to Russia. 

All this will affect the UK and other countries with steep rises in the cost of energy and, with Ukrainian agriculture affected, rises in the cost of foodstuffs too. Adding in disruption to supply chains, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research expects the UK economy to go into recession in the second half of the year. Maintaining UK support for Ukraine may be more challenging in this situation. Civil society can play a role in ensuring protections are put in place for those most vulnerable to rising costs and unemployment.

European philanthropic and civil society organisations are responding to the devastating situation in Ukraine since its invasion by the Russian regime. To help provide a coordinated approach, an integrated online portal for Ukraine has been launched by Philea, which brings together the efforts, initiatives and calls for donations of European philanthropic and civil society organisations, through two websites: and

Philanthropy for Ukraine helps philanthropic organisations to:

1) share updates on resources mobilised to support Ukraine

2) understand which pledges and commitments are being made by their peers

3) understand and respond to the needs of civil society organisations

NGOs for Ukraine helps civil society organisations to:

1) navigate the offers made by the philanthropic community

2) communicate their needs for support to a community of philanthropic actors. 

The platform provides a straightforward online template allowing philanthropic and civil society organisations to publish their support efforts. Bringing both communities together will allow for more targeted support in the interest of the millions of people suffering the consequences of the invasion.

The UK community foundation network are also coordinating their response to supporting refugees in the UK and have links to organisations in eastern and central Europe helping those affected. Supporting people and communities in Ukraine (