Jewish Federations’ Investments Before the Ukraine Crisis and Fundraising and Allocations During the Crisis
The quickly evolving situation in Ukraine and surrounding countries and the many humanitarian organizations responding to the crisis pose a challenge for individual and institutional donors seeking to maximize their impact in helping people harmed by the war. This post, and future posts, aim to provide useful information to Jewish Federation communities, current and prospective individual donors, foundations, and others.
We will bring together self-reported information on the work of key humanitarian organizations on the ground in Ukraine and surrounding countries.
As the humanitarian situation changes and the response grows to meet the needs, we will update data on the impact of organizations’ work.
We also intend to expand the scope of our review. We begin by detailing the central role of Jewish Federations. In our next posts, we will review organizations receiving funds from Jewish Federations. We plan to include additional organizations moving forward.
A. Background: The Moment to be Met
On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine endangering the lives of Ukraine’s over 44 million citizens, including approximately 200,000 Jewish Ukrainians. According to the United Nations, as of May 15, over 6.2 million refugees have fled Ukraine.  Ninety percent of refugees are women and children. Approximately 7.7 million people have been displaced within Ukraine, and an additional 13 million have been directly affected in the hardest hit areas of the country.
North American Jewry mobilized immediately to support the Ukrainian Jewish community and others in peril. The Jewish response was spurred by a sacred tradition that imposes on every Jew a responsibility for one another and views saving any human life as equivalent to saving the world – and driven by two millennia of history that teaches the imperative of zealous kindness in the face of attacks on the innocent and vulnerable.
B. The Central Role of Jewish Federations
As always, Jewish Federations are central to the North American Jewish response to an international emergency. The 146 Jewish Federations and hundreds of Network Communities across North America are uniquely positioned to respond expeditiously and effectively to provide direct assistance to those in danger. Jewish Federations act as a collective – through each community and across North America – to assess needs, raise funds, and allocate funds to make the greatest impact. Through our long-standing relationships with partner organizations, we bring a decades-long presence on the ground in Ukraine and surrounding countries and act as a convener and encourage ongoing cooperation between organizations.
Jewish Federations also advocate in Washington for government humanitarian support and refugee assistance.
In the current crisis, Jewish Federations have organized skilled Russian- and Ukrainian-speaking volunteers to assist refugees. This first of its kind central volunteer hub in support of refugees from Ukraine is a partnership with The Jewish Agency, JDC, and IsraAID. The program has begun with an initial group of over 30 volunteers.
- Jewish Federations’ Investments Before the Crisis
Jewish Federations were prepared to respond immediately in Ukraine – as in other emergency situations – because of our enduring investments in institutions at home and overseas that enable every North American Jew to reach out and support Jews around the world. Each year, Jewish Federations invest over $100 million in core, unrestricted funding to its historic partners The Jewish Agency for Israel, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and World ORT. These core funds ensure that these international organizations have the infrastructure to support flourishing Jewish communities wherever Jews live and to respond to whatever emergencies may come.
Jewish Federations – through the work of these partners – were on the ground in Ukraine and surrounding countries before the crisis with deep knowledge about the countries and expertise in crisis response. Indeed, Jewish Federations and their partner organizations began preparing together in December 2021, months before the invasion.
- Jewish Federations’ Fundraising and Allocations During the Ukraine Crisis
Jewish Federations have raised over $60 million through their Ukraine crisis campaigns and have allocated over $48.1 million to organizations providing direct relief to individuals in Ukraine and surrounding countries, as well as to refugees and others impacted by the crisis who are now in Israel. Of these funds, over $25 million were allocated collectively by Jewish Federations and over $23 million were designated by individual Jewish Federations.
Jewish Federations’ collective allocations are based on an extensive process by Jewish Federation of North America lay leaders and professionals including:
- Encouraging requests for needs from Jewish Federations’ overseas partners and other organizations. (Note: To date, 14 organizations have received grants from these collective allocations of at least $100,000.)
- Vetting and reviewing all requests to ensure that the amounts requested are reasonable and justified and that they are not duplicative of what other organizations are doing. Funding should include direct operational costs, not overhead.
- Requiring full transparency on: (1) what is spent and what can be re-allocated and (2) all funding sources to prevent duplication.
- Tracking and reviewing organizations’ activity through data reporting and ongoing communications with organizations.
Most, if not all, of the organizations receiving Jewish Federations’ support are aiding Jewish and non-Jewish Ukrainians – they provide support to all who seek their help.
C. Funding to Relief Organizations
A key principle of Jewish Federations’ process for determining collective allocations, through the Jewish Federations of North America, has been transparency by organizations on the sources of their funding, to prevent duplication. Below is the amount of funds raised by organizations receiving collective allocations from Jewish Federations. (Note: the total fundraising by organization is based on the latest information they provided to us.)
The next posts will review the impact of these allocations and the work by individual organizations.
 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/ukraine.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Ukraine Situation: Regional Refugee Response Plan - March-December 2022 p.7, https://data2.unhcr.org/en/documents/details/92257