Editor’s note: This article is reprinted with permission from Ministry Watch, an independent donor advocate that profiles public charities, church and parachurch ministries. Ministry Watch is also a place to learn about how to be a responsible giver.
By Warren Smith
When crisis hits around the world, as it has in Ukraine, Christians are often first in line to help. That’s a very good thing.
However, there’s a reason the Bible tells us to love God with our mind as well as our heart. At times like these, we should engage both. Below are a few principles and tips to keep in mind as you give to Ukrainian relief efforts. We also have our assessment of some ministries that are raising funds for Ukrainian relief.
The Old Rules Apply. Just because there’s a crisis, that doesn’t mean a ministry that has been poorly run suddenly becomes well-run. In fact, often a crisis causes a weak organization to break. That’s why even in the midst of crisis and urgent appeals, take an extra moment to do your homework. MinistryWatch gives ministries a Donor Confidence Score, a Financial Efficiency Rating, and a Transparency Grade. (You can search on a ministry and check their scores here.) Don’t give money to poorly rated ministries, or to ministries that do share enough information to produce a rating.
Beware of “Matching Gifts” or “Challenge Gifts.” These sorts of giving schemes can be legitimate, but in times of crisis, they are often used to heighten the sense of urgency. Educate yourself about Challenge Gifts and Matching Gifts by clicking here.
Boots on the Ground. When crisis erupts in a far corner of the world, it is too late to establish a presence there. Ministries that are the most effective are those who have already been operating there. They have “boots on the ground”: personnel, partners, processes, and infrastructure. Give to these ministries.
When crisis occurs, MinistryWatch often gets emails from readers with questions like, “What about [name of ministry]?” Here are a few we know about, along with a quick analysis. We will be revising this list as the situation in Ukraine develops. We are listing the ministries in alphabetical order. If the ministry is a part of the MinistryWatch 1000 database, we have inserted a link to its profile.
Eastern European Mission has been involved in Bible distribution and engagement in Ukraine for years. However, the group is not a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), and it does not release its Form 990 to the public. It does publish an “Impact Report” on its own website, but – based on this lack of transparency — MinistryWatch is not able to confirm the information there. We therefore cannot make a recommendation regarding this ministry.
International Mission Board (IMB) is the foreign mission agency of the Southern Baptist Convention. It does not release its Form 990 to the public, and is not a member of the ECFA, so it is not possible for MinistryWatch to make a recommendation regarding this ministry.
Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) is another denomination that is working with partner churches in the region to provide direct relief. As is the case with the IMB (above), churches are not required to release Form 990s, so MinistryWatch is not able to make a recommendation. Read more about the LCMS efforts here.
MAP International works through on-the-ground partners to providing medicine and health supplies. MAP International was a MinistryWatch 2021 Shining Light ministry, and it has a Donor Confidence Score of 80: “Give With Confidence.” See its ECFA profile here.
Mission Eurasia has a Donor Confidence score of 95 (“Give With Confidence”). It was founded in Ukraine and has had an active presence there for decades.
Mission To The World is the foreign missions arm of the Presbyterian Church in America. It has a Donor Confidence Score of 50 (“Give With Caution”).
Samaritan’s Purse has been working in crisis zones for decades and has the capability to be agile and effective in Ukraine. It has had resources “on the ground” there for years. MinistryWatch gives Samaritan’s Purse a Donor Confidence Score of 80 (out of 100), which means “Give With Confidence.” See its ECFA profile here.
Send Relief is a collaboration between the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board. It is a member of the ECFA. You can see its ECFA profile here. However, because it does not release its Form 990, MinistryWatch is not able to build a profile or make a recommendation. You can read the limited amount of information we have for Send Relief here.
Slavic Gospel Association has had long partnerships with local churches in Ukraine and Russia, more than 2300 in total and more than 40 in eastern Ukraine, where the fighting is most intense. They are providing meals and other services. It has a Donor Confidence Score of 85 (“Give With Confidence”) and is a member of the ECFA. See its ECFA profile here.
United Methodist Committee On Relief is currently working in Ukraine and the surrounding region. As is the case with the IMB and LCMS (above), UMCOR is not required to release Form 990s, so MinistryWatch is not able to make a recommendation.
World Vision is on the ground in Eastern Europe helping thousands of refugees along the Romanian border, providing them with essential aid such as emergency assistance packages and educational support. The organization has had a presence in Romania for more than 30 years. World Vision has a Donor Confidence Score of 80 (“Give with Confidence”). See its ECFA member profile here.
Editor’s Note: We will be adding to this list as we learn of other organizations doing work in Ukraine, or in nearby countries in support of Ukrainians.