How you can help Ukrainians and people affected by other emergencies?

How you can help Ukrainians and people affected by other emergencies?

Like you, we at The Life You Can Save are deeply saddened and frightened by the unprovoked invasion of the sovereign nation of Ukraine. Our hearts go out to the people, who are suffering and fighting this aggression. Similarly, we are overwhelmed by the tragedy that is unfolding in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover in August of last year where a pre-existing humanitarian crisis has grown even more dire. Nearly  23 million Afghans (more than half the population) face acute food insecurity, with nearly 9 million on the brink of starvation. If conditions do not improve, the risk of famine that was once restricted to rural areas could sweep through the vast majority of Afghanistan’s most densely populated urban areas and 97% of the country’s population could fall into poverty in 2022.

When crises like these strike it’s natural to ask ‘how can I help?’ and ‘where will my donation do the most good?’ While it’s gratifying to see the outpouring of generosity and the desire to help, it’s difficult to provide a conclusive answer to the question of ‘where to donate, especially when we face a rapidly evolving situation and do not have the luxury of taking time to gather and weigh all the evidence. With that caveat,  we offer some thoughts on actions you may choose to take. 

Continue supporting ‘silent emergencies’

It’s helpful to remember that, unfortunately, emergencies that never make the news are unfolding every day. We call these ‘silent emergencies’. 

Roughly 14,000 children under the age of five die every day, mostly from conditions that could be prevented or treated with access to simple, affordable interventions. Today roughly 1 in 10 people worldwide live in extreme poverty, even though there are charities with cost-effective, proven solutions that save and transform their lives. That’s why we recommend continuing to support unrestricted donations to our recommended charities –  for them to allocate where the need is greatest – even if their work is not making the headlines right now. 

Consider additional donations to organizations responding to current emergencies 

We know and completely understand that many people also want to make additional donations to assist emergency responses (we do too!) Unfortunately, at present we’re not in a position to recommend or endorse specific emergency response organizations. Still, we’d like to provide you with a few pointers for options to consider and resources to review: 

Large emergency and refugee-focused organizations 

Many large emergency and refugee-focused organizations like the International Rescue Committee, MSF (Doctors Without Borders), UNICEF and UNHCR are currently appealing for funds for their work in Ukraine, Afghanistan and other current emergencies. 

While some emergency appeals raise more money than is needed for a specific crisis, most large charities can reallocate unused funds to other similar emergencies that may not be in the news – and that’s great.  Before donating, check with the charity that their donation policy allows for unused funds to be reallocated to similar work in other countries or regions (most charities will include this type of information on their website or donation pages). 

Local charities in Ukraine and neighbouring countries

For thoughts on supporting local organizations in Ukraine or neighbouring countries, we recommend Kelsey Piper’s article How you can help Ukrainians published in Vox’s Future Perfect. 

The Life You Can Save’s future work on emergency responses

We are currently exploring ways to provide more and better guidance on responding to emergencies, and we hope to share guides and recommendations later this year. 


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About the author:

Charles Bresler

Co-founder, Board Member

After earning a PhD in Social and Clinical Psychology, Charlie Bresler became director of behavioral medicine for The California School of Professional Psychology, Fresno (CSPP-F), where he was a full-time professor and founder of a teaching clinic for anxiety & stress disorders. In 1993, he was recruited by The Men’s Wearhouse, where he went on to be head of human resources, stores, marketing, and, ultimately, president. He stepped down in 2008 to fulfill his long-standing desire to work directly on social and economic issues, not too long after he read Peter Singer’s book, The Life You Can Save. Catalyzed by the concept, Charlie reached out to Peter and proposed combining Peter’s theory with the formation of a nonprofit to advance Peter’s ideas and to raise money for high-impact, cost-effective organizations. Together, they founded The Life You Can Save, where Charlie took on all organizational operations as executive director until 2024. He was supported in this work and in his financial support for the organization by his wife Diana, a family physician, and executed the role pro bono.

The views expressed in blog posts are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Peter Singer or The Life You Can Save.