Three weeks into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, one of the largest humanitarian crises since World War II is unfolding. The chaotic early days of the crisis has grabbed American attention and inspired many to donate money or to engage in other acts of compassion. But many people have also felt confused and unsure of how to act on their desire to help.
Fidelity Charitable conducted a survey among a general population of Americans on March 9 to understand how they are supporting those affected. Findings highlight not only how rapidly Americans are responding, but how many are primed for a significant and ongoing response.
Key takeaways include:
One in four Americans (25%) have opened their wallets in some way in response to the crisis—including donations to charity or other forms of aid.
- Among those who have taken action, 54% have made a donation to a traditional nonprofit working on the ground in Ukraine or nearby countries, while 26% have given money directly to individuals or families affected by the crisis. Seventy-nine percent have engaged in some other form of economic support, such as purchasing a product with proceeds benefiting Ukraine, purchasing supplies to send to Ukraine, or supporting a Ukrainian business.
- Younger Americans are more likely to branch out from traditional giving methods. Twenty-eight percent of Millennials engaged in alternate forms of economic support, compared to 15% of Gen X and 12% of Baby Boomers.
Currently, donors are primarily concerned for immediate humanitarian needs related to the crisis.
- Among donors and those who plan to donate soon, top areas of concern are medical support in Ukraine (60%), children’s issues (58%), and short-term humanitarian aid (52%).
- Donors’ secondary concerns include more long-term areas of work, such as rebuilding Ukraine (33%), providing economic opportunity for refugees (30%), supporting mental health services (28%), and strengthening democracy (19%).
Donors were split on whether their motivation was more rooted in feelings that they were actively helping or in feelings of helplessness in the face of the crisis.
- Thirty-two percent said they gave because their donation will make a difference, while 31% say they donated because they simply weren’t sure what else to do, while an additional third cited both.
Two-thirds (66%) of those who have not donated say they will or may make a donation in the next few weeks. But many are held back by concerns.
- Eighteen percent of those who haven’t yet made a monetary donation plan to do so, and nearly half (48%) say they might, but aren’t sure yet. Only 34% said they definitely would not give—indicating that most Americans are willing to donate, but are waiting to learn more before acting.
- Information about where to give is ubiquitous. Forty-three percent of those who have not donated say they have seen information about how to support those affected by the crisis.
- Even so, many say there are concerns holding them back from giving. Those who do not plan to donate or aren’t sure say they are unsure that their donation will reach the intended recipients (29%) or that they want to know more about how their donation will be used (26%). In addition to these concerns, many respondents reported feeling economic pressures in their own lives—often related to current events, such as increasing inflation and rising fuel prices—that leave less discretionary income available for donations.