The Atlas Network shows how nonprofits can seamlessly support those in need, without the involvement of government and red tape.
So, you’ve decided to help Ukraine in its fight against Russia by donating to a nonprofit organization, but now you’re probably wondering exactly how your gift is being put to use. I know I always do. Fortunately, in the latest installment of the “Giving Ventures” podcast, hosted by Peter Lipsett, vice president of DonorsTrust, everyone who donates to the Atlas Network’s “Ukraine Freedom Fund” can find out where their money is going.
Lipsett interviewed the executive vice president for international programs at Atlas Network, Dr. Tom G. Palmer. Dr. Palmer is currently working on the front lines of this humanitarian crisis, ensuring that their donors’ generous gifts are being put to good use. He has been shuttling supplies into Ukraine and, on the way back, extracting refugees fleeing the war-torn nation.
At the time of the podcast’s airdate, over $1.3 million have been collected in the form of large and small donations from across the world. With these funds, the Atlas Network partners with liberty-loving organizations across Europe and in Ukraine to obtain much needed supplies, including the vehicles that Dr. Palmer has been using for his heroic refugee runs. Dr. Palmer started out making these dangerous trips in “an old beat-up 2002 Chrysler Voyager.” With support from the Atlas Network, he now uses a newer and more reliable 2006 Kia Sorento and has passed the Chrysler Voyager on to others to continue the work of funneling additional supply to Ukrainians. On the way into Ukraine, Dr Palmer takes specialized products including insulin and other medical supplies for the oncology ward at a hospital. On the way back, he often picks up families fleeing from the Russian onslaught and offers to bring them to the train station. Most recently Dr. Palmer helped a mother, daughter, and their feline family member find refuge in Poland.
With Russia taking a total-war approach, no lives are off limits. In fact, rescue workers such as ambulance drivers, hospital workers, and schoolteachers have all become targets for Russian snipers. Donors to the Freedom Fund can participate in the fight against this atrocity by financing the creation and delivery of non-lethal humanitarian protective gear including bullet-proof vests. Remarking on the utilization of donations, Dr. Palmer states, “It is the liberty movement…helping…the Ukrainian people to survive and to maintain the free open society, to have a society based on freedom of exchange, freedom of speech, all the things the American founders fought for, and not be subject to an oligarchy or dictatorship.”
Dr. Palmer makes an important distinction. The current conflict in Ukraine is not just a land grab attempt by Russia. It is an attack on a nation that has struggled to achieve a democratic governmental system. The United States government may not be able to get directly involved by instituting a no-fly-zone or with military aid, but private citizens can still help. Dr. Palmer states, “From the perspective of anyone…who loves liberty, setting aside what governments do, this is something citizens can and should be involved in, this is civil society standing up.” We have the ability to help the Ukrainian people continue their defense against Russia by contributing to nonprofit groups like the Atlas Network and supporting their initiatives like the Ukraine Freedom Fund.
Whatever one’s opinion of government involvement in the current conflict may be, the Atlas Network is yet another example of how nonprofits can operate without red tape and quickly get support to those in need. We all know examples of nonprofits that create unnecessary obstacles between donor and beneficiary, but there are countless examples—domestically and, it turns out, internationally—where nonprofits operate smoothly and effectively to enable generous donors both large and small help those in need.