Approximately one third of the people of Ukraine are displaced following the Russia invasion that began on 24 February this year.

In February, we told readers about the Emergency Action Alliance (EAA), a coalition of 15 humanitarian organisations that united in 2021 to create a centralised fundraising mechanism for major international disasters. When catastrophe strikes, these organisations temporarily freeze their fundraising campaigns to focus on raising more funds as a collective.  

Since we published that article, the EAA delivered its first emergency appeal to help victims of the conflict in Ukraine.  

We spoke to the EAA’s Executive Director, Kerren Morris, to find out more about the outcomes and learnings from the organisation’s first campaign.  

According to the EAA, more than 12 million people are now displaced from Ukraine because of Russia’s invasion. Five million people are refugees, making the dangerous crossing into neighbouring countries. An estimated 7.1 million are displaced within Ukraine, many in remote areas.

The Ukrainian humanitarian crisis was one of the many situations the newly formed EAA was monitoring with concern. Thirteen of its members were already responding to the crisis in Ukraine, raising funds to address the immediate needs of people fleeing the conflict and the longer-term recovery.  

As conditions deteriorated, the EAA appeal committee discussed developments, assessing the situation against their criteria for launching a campaign. The board soon gave permission for the Ukraine emergency appeal to proceed. 

“The appeal committee and the board are composed of member representatives. The EAA secretariat managed the appeal with the support of our digital agencies. Additional assistance was provided by member organisations around media and communications, donor support, social media, and finance, accounting and administration,” explains Kerren. 

Members gave the EAA information about their work in and around Ukraine, along with shareable content and imagery. Kerren says it was a “brilliant” team effort, with member organisation staff collaborating with the EAA and each other to ensure the appeal was successful. 

Tuning into TV 

The EAA teamed up with media partner ABC to launch the appeal in late March, tapping into a star-studded fundraising concert organised to support the work of the EAA’s equivalent in the UK, the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC). 

“The event was created and negotiated by a TV production company in the UK. They created the concert idea to raise funds for DEC’s Ukraine appeal. DEC introduced us to the right people at the production company, and the timing worked well for the ABC. From hearing about the concert to having it aired on ABC iview took less than four or five days,” says Kerren. 

The two-hour Concert for Ukraine held on 29 March brought together leading names from the music world. Ed Sheeran, Camila Cabello, Snow Patrol, Tom Odell and Manic Street Preachers were among the performers who took to the stage in Birmingham, England. Broadcast live on the UK’s ITV, the concert raised £11.3 million for DEC on the night it aired, with another £2 million received in days following the event. 

In Australia, the concert aired on 30 March. Viewers were able to donate during the evening via the online ABC Gives platform and via phone on a 1300 number. If people missed the concert, they could catch up on ABC iview for 30 days after the broadcast and continue to donate via ABC Gives. 

The concert brought in 40% of all funds raised with half of the money coming in on the night it aired. The Australian Government also supported the appeal, contributing $2 million. At last count, the EAA had raised $4.32 million for Ukraine. 

Maintaining Momentum 

The appeal for Ukraine is ongoing.  

“There’s a natural cycle in the public response to these events and it’s heavily driven by media coverage – something we can’t control. We found that by keeping our appeal open, we’ve had sudden fluctuations in donations when media moments happen,” says Kerren. 

The EAA continues to post and advertise on social media and people are still organising concerts, movie nights and other fundraisers for the appeal.   

A preliminary impact report on the collective work of the EAA members has kept donors engaged and aware of how their support is making a difference.

Standing by 

As for the next appeal, the EAA are not sure when it will happen or what it will entail as the nature of fundraising for unfolding emergencies makes it challenging to plan. Despite this, Kerren says processes are in place, including campaign templates and simulated events, for when action is required. 

“Sadly, there are always humanitarian crises. Right now, the world is in the grip of a devastating hunger crisis where the 3 Cs – Covid, Climate and Conflict – are driving food insecurity to unprecedented levels,” she says. 

“We’re monitoring this and discussing the possibility of an appeal. But in the meantime, most of our member organisations have already launched appeals for the crisis to build on the work they’re already doing in the worst-affected regions.” 

Achieving more together 

Kerren is thrilled by the results of the EAA’s first campaign. 

“It’s a sight to behold when fundraising experts across a range of organisations come together with a common purpose. The sky’s the limit on what can be achieved when we work together like this.”  

Key learnings 

Here are Kerren’s four takeaways from the EAA’s first appeal:  

  1. As the EAA is still relatively new, we need to be flexible and willing to adjust certain aspects of the mechanism to ensure, collectively, we can maximise appeal revenue.  
  2. Domestic emergencies (the appeal took place during the devastating floods in NSW and QLD) can and will affect securing partner support and donations. 
  3. As a team of two, we had a very heavy workload and will need additional support for the next appeal. 
  4. By pursuing maximum automation and focusing on digital, we didn’t make it easy for non-digital audiences to donate. We are making a number of changes to make it easier to donate by phone, mail and bank deposit.  

EAA’s 15 member charities are ActionAid Australia, Act For Peace, ADRA, Anglican Overseas Aid, Australia for UNHCR, Australian Lutheran World Service, Baptist World Aid Australia, Care Australia, Caritas Australia, CBM Australia, ChildFund Australia, Oxfam Australia, Plan International Australia, Save the Children Australia and Tearfund Australia.