Ukraine relief: How to make sure you're donating to legitimate relief organizations

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There are plenty of opportunities for Chicagoans to donate or raise money to help Ukraine, both in Ukrainian Village and beyond.

At Pie Pie My Darling in Ukrainian Village, Heather Bodine-Lederman whipped up some lemon cake while at the same time helping to raise nearly $6,000 for Ukrainian relief efforts. The vegan cake shop owner is raffling any one of the cakes on her menu to one lucky costumer who can prove to her they've donated at least $10 to the relief agency of their choice.

"Any time there is some sort of injustice I just want to say something about it," Bodine-Lederman said. "It would feel wrong to go about posting about selling cakes when there is a war going on."

READ MORE: Ukraine seeks to join EU as round of talks with Russia ends

For those wanting to donate, there are many choices. Locally, the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America has partnered with an international relief agency in Ukraine to help those on the inside.

"They have warehouses in Ukraine which are supplied now with medicine and food and will need to be restocked and replenished," said Pavlo Bandriwsky, Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, Illinois Division.

Food and medicine is also needed for the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refuges already displaced just in the last four days. Catholic Relief Service is already on the ground to help them.

READ MORE: How to help Ukrainians after Russia's attack

"Sometimes these are people who picked up with a backpack or maybe even just the clothes on their back, so we want to be able to provide them with the basic necessities that they need," said Beth Knobbe, Catholic Relief Services.

The federal government has still not said whether or not Ukrainian refugees will be allowed into the United States, but some here are already preparing for the prospect building a list of those willing to take people in. Among them is Lori Wyatt, who adopted both of her children from Crimea in 2005.

"It's just like us. Can you imagine tanks rolling down the street? I can't imagine. And if my children we're still there today they would be picking up AK47s and fighting for their country and I just can't imagine it. I can't imagine it. So I want to do whatever I can do," she said.

If you want to make sure your donations are going to a legitimate organization, the Better Business Bureau recommends asking yourself the following questions: Can the charity get to the impacted area, is the charity experienced at providing emergency relief, and what are the charity's administrative costs?

You should also beware of bogus websites that appear legitimate. Type in the URL yourself instead of following links. Also never follow a donation link sent via email, text or social media.

The following charities have already been vetted by the BBB and are raising money for Ukraine relief:

  • Catholic Relief Services - Ukraine Relief

  • Direct Relief - Ukraine Relief

  • GlobalGiving - Ukraine Relief

  • International Medical Corps - Ukraine Relief

  • International Rescue Committee - Ukraine Relief

  • Operation USA - Ukraine Relief

  • Save the Children - Ukraine Relief

  • United States Association for UNHCR - Ukraine Relief


  • Questions to ask yourself before you donate, from the BBB - Ukraine Relief



    Can the charity get to the impacted area? Not all relief organizations will be positioned to provide relief quickly. See if the charity already has a presence in Ukraine.

    Should you send clothing and food? Local drives to collect clothing and food to send overseas may not be practical as the logistics and timing to deliver and disperse such items will be challenging. Relief organizations are better equipped to obtain what is needed, distribute it effectively and avoid duplication of effort.

    Does the relief charity meet BBB Charity Standards? You can verify a charity's trustworthiness by viewing an evaluative report completed by BBB Wise Giving Alliance. See the list provided below of charities soliciting relief assistance for Ukraine that also meet the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability.

    Is the charity experienced in providing emergency relief? Experienced disaster relief charities are the best bet to help deliver aid as soon as possible. New entrants may have difficulty in following through even if they have the best of intentions.

    Are you considering crowdfunding appeals? If engaging in crowdfunding, it is safest to give to someone you know and trust and review the platform's policies regarding fees and distribution of collected funds. If the crowdfunding request is from a charity, check out the group by visiting Give.org. Keep in mind that some crowdfunding sites do minimal vetting of individuals or organizations that decide to post for relief assistance. Sites that take security measures will usually provide descriptions of these procedures.

    Does the appeal make exaggerated financial claims, such as "100% will be spent on relief"? Charities have fundraising and administrative expenses. Any charity claiming otherwise is potentially misleading the donating public. Even a credit card donation will have a processing fee.
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