The Zagoriy Foundation in Ukraine has issued an urgent plea for funds and support from the philanthropic community worldwide to help and protect Ukrainian civil society.
With life having changed insurmountably since the Russian invasion, the needs of the sector and its workforce have shifted fundamentally, the foundation’s CEO Eugenia Mazurenko tells EFA.
“Every non-profit organisation in Ukraine is facing the new realities of war,” she said. “The country’s needs are constantly changing. One day, it might be about providing medicine, the next its logistics.
“Today, we need to fundraise for ourselves if we are to be able to continue our work. Civil society has twice as much work on its hands – continuing to provide our normal services, but also to deliver humanitarian assistance.”
Pivoting in a time of war
Before the invasion, the Zagoriy Foundation worked to develop a culture of charitable giving across the nation, providing grants to nonprofits to promote civil society and to help them meet their philanthropic goals. The foundation conducted research on giving, developed institutional philanthropy and sought to build trust in foundations.
While staying true to its mission of supporting civil society and promoting a philanthropic culture, the organisation has now pivoted its services to address the nation’s new and increasingly urgent needs.
Mazurenko explains that the organisation is focusing its work currently on the logistical coordination of international support for Ukraine, channelling funding to the transport of humanitarian aid, medicine and supplies, and to humanitarian headquarters and hospitals – all amid harrowing conditions. These needs are likely to evolve and grow as time moves on.
She highlights the foundation’s role in forming a bridge between organisations operating at a local level and international bodies, saying: “Grassroots organisations in Ukraine work hard every day to support civil society and its needs. However, their voices are often not loud enough to be heard both in Ukraine and abroad. Humanitarian agencies aren’t always visible at local level. There seems to be a wall between the two, so we act as a bridge between the two.
“The Zagoriy Foundation team is collating details of urgent funding appeals from its grantees and partners to address those needs as efficiently as possible. “
Thankful for support
Grateful for the support for her country, Mazurenko adds:
“We are incredibly thankful to the international community for the enormous support our nation receives these days, wherever we are. At the same time, the scale of needs is growing, so we continue to inform our international partners about the activities, and the collected list of sector needs to raise financial support to reliable NGOs and charities operating in Ukraine centrally through our foundation.”
She highlights that Information, partnerships and financial assistance from the international community can all be vital for the Zagoriy team in strengthening the sector and protect civil society.
Mazurenko herself had to flee her home in Kyiv a few weeks ago, seeking refuge in a village in the Western part of the country, where she lives in a small house along with ten of her family members and many pets. She expresses concern for her colleagues, who are all facing similar challenges of finding a safe space to live and work, to care for the families and access the support they need amid the crisis.
She concludes: “It is my biggest nightmare to think about myself as a refugee. Today, I‘m not. I’m a fighter. All Ukrainians are fighters and we are fighting for European peace. We believe in our victory. We will win.”
To find out more about the work of the organisation and how you can support their work, visit Zagoriy Foundation.
Or to hear more of Eugenia’s story, tune into the first episode of the new European Fundraising Podcast series, produced by David Klajman of Fidelis in France:
Photo by Rostislav Artov on Unsplash.
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