Donate Safely to Ukraine: Interview with Army SOS

Elena Popovici

May 25, 2022

Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022, and many people have been and are seeking to donate to different non-profit organizations to help the people there. The tensions have caused many to question their place in this world and to wonder how they can help. However, war and chaos leave a lot of room for scammers. Anxiety and risk aversion can erode your decision-making capabilities at the worst possible time.

With so many nonprofits collecting donations during these troubled times, it can be hard to know where to send money and whether your money will reach the actual destination. With such uncertainty in the air, many may choose not to donate at all.

Just like with any charitable contribution, it is important to do some research first to know you are contributing towards a cause that is meaningful, rather than being subject to the pitfalls of scammers and unethical organizations. It's important to make sure that when you give in response to a tragedy, your money goes where it's intended.

Army SOS (АРМІЯ СОС in Ukrainian) has been verified by Vespia and you can check it here. This Ukrainian NGO focuses on the “multiplier” solutions that drastically improve Ukraine’s defense capabilities. Now, we wanted to bring many more answers to our audience besides a charity check. Let's find out what is the process behind a donation at Army SOS and how they are helping Ukraine by interviewing Oleksii Savchenko, Co-Founder at Army SOS.

1. Tell us about Army SOS. How did you make it happen?

The organization started as an initiative of four Euromaidan (dignity revolution) activists in March 2014. The fun fact is that all four didn’t know each other during the revolution itself and have met for the first time while helping the Ukrainian military near Kyiv during the Crimea occupation. With the start of the war, Army SOS began assisting National Guard, Armed Forces, and Volunteer battalions, and eventually narrowed its focus to the military units who are directly at the front line.

Independence Monument located on Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kyiv
Independence Monument located on Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kyiv. Source: Gleb Albovsky from Unsplash 2021.

2. How do you help the people in Ukraine?

Currently, we have three main directions of operation:

a) Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) construction and operation - Army SOS builds UAVs and equips flight groups with all necessary equipment to provide aerial reconnaissance to the armed forces of Ukraine.

b) Artillery software MAPA and fight control software KROPYVA - Our volunteers have developed software back in 2015 at the request of military operators and have modernized and updated it since that period many times, currently 90% of artillery use this software to operate the guns.

c) Radio communications are reconnaissance – we are buying modern equipment to construct mobile radio reconnaissance units.

d) The fourth direction is a temporary one and is aimed to supply Individual First Aid Kits (IFAC) and Service Utility Vehicles (SUV) to the front lines as these goods are consumables during the active military fight – we are buying other equipped military grade first aid kits or individual items for the kits and we are buying used SUV and Vans in Europe for the military needs.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and military using fight control software KROPYVA
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and military using fight control software KROPYVA. Source: Army SOS 2022.

3. How long does it take to transfer money and what other spending do you have during the transfer sending?

It depends on the country and volume of the transfer. On average 24 hours for the money to be transferred and received.

4. Your offices are presented in many countries (Poland, Germany, Portugal, USA, UK). How do you cooperate altogether?

Yes, we have representation in many countries, normally it works so that the Ukrainian office gives direction to the countries located in the Europen Union and the United States representatives. After that, they research, purchase and deliver everything to our warehouse. EU and US offices collect donations and use them to finance our projects as well.

5. What feedback do you get from the Ukrainian community? Do you communicate with your supporters in any way?

Mostly with the military but current communication with supporters goes through the social media as for security reasons we had to close our doors and establish armed security that was provided by our friends in the military.

6. Any other thoughts you would like to share with our audience?

We are extremely thankful to all our external supporters and donors, we are sorry for the feedback delay from our side from time to time, but I’m sure you all understand why.

I would also like to mention that due to the scale of the current war major help for Ukraine can be provided only at the governmental level and we hope that it will be provided by our western partners soon enough, Ukraine needs anti-aircraft rocket systems and rockets, fighter aircraft, heavy artillery, and high precision land-land rocket systems to protect peace on the land, Ukraine also requires sea protection systems.

A picture of militarywith Army SOS's equipment
Source: Army SOS 2022.

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