In 2021, over $570,000 in Bitcoin donations were made to pro-military Ukrainian organizations. According to Elliptic, a U.K.-based blockchain analytics firm, about $400,000 in BTC has been paid to just one of those charities, “Come Back Alive,” today alone.
The funding is badly required, according to Ukrainians. Following a months-long buildup of Russian troops on the border, President Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine on Wednesday, euphemistically referring to the invasion as a “special military operation.” Ukrainian organizations began using crowdfunding strategies in 2014 after Russia-aligned President Viktor Yanukovych was deposed during the Maidan Revolution.
“This group provides support to the Ukrainian army by supporting their soldiers,” Elliptic research lead Jess Symington told Decrypt over the phone. “They’ve received very, very small amounts of donations since August 2021—not very much at all; maybe like $4 or $5K a month. And then suddenly it just shot up starting about the 22nd of February.”
It is now usual for volunteer groups and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to gather funds for weapons and medical supplies that soldiers can use. Come Back Alive also has a Patreon website, with different membership tiers signified by weaponry.
Organizations tend to accept funds in any shape they can quickly obtain them. In 2014, for example, Wikipedia began accepting Bitcoin donations alongside credit card and PayPal transactions.
When regular payment channels are disrupted, as was the case with GoFundMe donations made to Canadian convoy demonstrators last month, groups can rely more heavily on cryptocurrency. Peer-to-peer crypto transactions can avoid banks, financial institutions, and even government controls; yet, in order to be most beneficial, they may need to be traded for cash on occasion.