People in Need develops partnerships with Ukrainian organisationsPublished: Aug 19, 2023 Reading time: 6 minutes
Since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, many NGOs and initiatives transitioned their activities and reordered to other aspects of their work. In addition, new volunteer initiatives have emerged to help fight the consequences of the war. It's no secret that experience is the best tool to inform the attitude of any civil society organisation. How do you go through this process and become an influential supporter of communities in need?
Over the past eighteen months in Ukraine, over 200 civil society organisations, charitable foundations, and volunteer associations have partnered with us at People in Need. The cooperation has enabled us to get humanitarian aid to 23 of 24 oblasts of the country. Pooling resources and expertise has allowed us to provide prompt assistance in such sectors as food security, restoration of access to water, sanitation and hygiene, shelter reconstruction, protection and psychological assistance, and access to education and financial support for households. We seek to strengthen cooperation with all Ukrainian NGOs working to develop capacities and plans to reach higher levels of humanitarian assistance.
Cooperation and grant support
In spring 2022, we introduced a simplified E-PAT procedure (Emergency Partners' Assessment Tool) for assessing potential partners. This has reduced the time required to review organisations seeking to receive grants. This has helped expand our partner network and reduce the response time to humanitarian requests in different regions of Ukraine, directing efforts to where they are most needed.
"The E-PAT assessment has become a starting point for our strategic planning. Filling out the questionnaire, we had to think about our future plans, where we really want to move as an organisation and where we will be most effective," —Inna Mihulia, Deputy Director of the Charity Fund Veterans of Chornobyl.
Cooperation with the Veterans of Chornobyl Charity Fund began in Spring 2022. At that time, the Fund had 20 years of experience supporting families affected by the Chornobyl accident and the population that suffered from Russian military operations in the east of the country in 2014. From 24 February, 2022, the humanitarian community faced a deluge of emergency requests for assistance, and the Found volunteers and specialists had limited resources. Still, they worked hard despite chronic fatigue and sleep deprivation.
"We had just launched a clothing hub in Zaporizhzhia and tried to support everyone who asked for help. But there were days when, after 4-hours of sleep, we had to quickly respond to requests that were not specific to us, for example, from farmers. We understood that we needed to look for support, but our partners found us on their own. A People in Need staff member told us, "We believe in you," and thus began our cooperation. Then came the training and many joint projects, but I still remember the moment when your trust gave me strength," says Inna Mihulia.
In addition to financial support for the organisations' operational activities, we provide the safety of our partner teams, as about 90% of the partners work in eastern and southern Ukraine. Thus, 40 of our partner organisations working near the frontline received almost 300 personal protective equipment (PPE) kits. These kits include body armour and helmets, individual first aid kits, and tourniquets.
Like other responsible international donor organisations, we adhere to basic international standards and policies. Our duty of care policy is one of the most relevant of these critical documents. We are open to partnerships with organisations that meet certain conditions. An organisation must adhere to the principles of good governance and demonstrate a sufficient capacity to provide humanitarian assistance to civilians. It must pass our verification process and have an up-to-date application and project budget that meets the target group's needs. Finally, the organisation must be interested in cooperation and improving its capacity.
For example, one of our partners in eastern Ukraine is the Angels of Salvation charity foundation. In the months following the full-scale invasion, they managed to unite the efforts of three hundred volunteers and ensure the stability of humanitarian missions in frontline communities.
"Thanks to the organisation's [PIN's] support, our foundation was able to immediately organise the evacuation of civilians from the most extreme hotspots in Ukraine. In addition, People in Need facilitated the supply of drinking water, food, clothing, and basic necessities for residents of the conflict zone and internally displaced persons. It is of great importance to us that People in Need is loyal to cooperation with the newly established foundations, despite the organisation's relatively short grant history, providing financial support not only for the programme part of the project but also for the operational part - for the foundation's expenses," — Dmitry Myshenin, Head of the Angels of Salvation Charitable Foundation.
Partnership is a two-way street
Over the past year and a half, we have held 50 training sessions for partner organisations. During training, representatives of foundations and volunteers had the opportunity to strengthen their knowledge. This was particularly important in security, strategic planning, humanitarian response, inclusiveness, communication, prevention of gender-based violence and sexual exploitation, advocacy and for topics that improve the quality of humanitarian response, etc.
In the autumn of 2022, a team of Rescue Now volunteers joined our training course. Cooperation with the organisation began with the delivery of construction materials and food and hygiene kits for residents of the Kharkiv Oblast living in liberated territories. Since its inception, the organisation has delivered over 400,000 food parcels, evacuated over 22,000 people and pets from the critically dangerous areas of the Kharkiv Oblast, and continues to develop and seek out new formats to support people affected by the war.
"It is important for our organisation to expand the geography of our activities and continuously look for opportunities to help those in need. Training, especially offline, helps us achieve this goal. By meeting with other teams, we gain new partnerships, strengthen and reinforce each other's positions. For example, the comprehensive training programme in Dnipro opened new perspectives for us. The fundraising knowledge we gained is now helping us to find additional resources," — Andrii Nimkovych, Head of Fundraising at Rescue Now.
Our Ukrainian partners enable us to learn about new practices and successful projects. Specialists and volunteers from Ukrainian CSOs share their experience and knowledge. They help to establish links with the public and private sectors, implement innovative initiatives and pilot projects, and provide feedback on cooperation.
"In overcoming any crisis, it is important for the Rescue Now team to see the root of the problem. This way, we can solve problems systematically. People in Need supports this value; in this regard, we are close. They are our partners, our mentors, who provide financial support and gladly share their knowledge and experience," — Maryna Cherednychenko, a Rescue Now volunteer team member.
People affected by the conflict, civil society organisations and host communities are currently facing a set of complex and interrelated challenges. Given the scale of the tragedy that affects every Ukrainian every day, our team continues to work on improving and adapting the partnership programme. Our aspiration is cooperation as one of the driving forces of community life, allowing us to implement joint recovery projects and exchange and share experiences in various fields for the country's long-term development.