From natural disasters to illnesses, housefires, injuries, and even war, not a day goes by that someone in the world does not experience unanticipated hardship. The unforeseen can not only be devastating, but in the moments following initial impact, it can also seem unsurmountable.
On Feb. 24, 2022, Russia began its now year-plus invasion of Ukraine. Since then, the human toll has mounted. According to recent UN human rights office (OHCHR) data, at least 8,000 non-combatants have been confirmed killed, with nearly 13,300 injured. Additionally, more than 8 million refugees have fled Ukraine, and the damage to the country’s infrastructure is estimated at more than $138 billion.
According to German-based research firm Kiel Institute for the World Economy, the Biden administration and U.S. Congress have directed more than $75 billion in assistance to Ukraine, including humanitarian, financial and military support, since the war began. Large companies too have joined in the relief effort, with Boeing, MasterCard, Abbott, and Pfizer each providing $2 million in humanitarian response. General Electric and Johnson & Johnson upped the ante with $4.5 million and $5 million, respectively, for philanthropic and humanitarian commitments.
Relief Funds as Financial First Response
Some of these companies — and others similar to them who we work with at Emergency Assistance Foundation — provided relief through employee assistance funds. An employee assistance fund, or disaster and hardship relief fund, is a way to assist team members in need. Many times, funds are established through a third-party administrator. In this case, third-party relief fund administrators handle donations, objectively review grant applications, and award and distribute the grants.
Relief funds can be a valuable tool for companies for many reasons. Of course, there is the ability to assist those in need worldwide. As a third-party relief fund administrator, Emergency Assistance Foundation not only has a pulse on disaster events globally, but also has team members located around the world who are equipped with multilingual response abilities. Additionally, our independent, objective review process is regulatory compliant, ensuring we are able to provide relief while avoiding unnecessary risks. Lasty, eligible grant requests can be awarded quickly through both domestic and international financial partners.
A relief fund can boost morale among employees while giving them an opportunity to support colleagues who have fallen on hard times. In the aftermath of an unexpected hardship, whether disaster or instances like the Ukrainian conflict, while general needs are common (shelter or food), many families have unique needs such as prescription medicine or baby supplies. Employees are happy to know that with the money they’ve donated, these individuals can purchase what’s needed.
Our efforts specifically in the last year show companies are more and more invested in helping their employees in need by partnering with us because of the many advantages of working with a third-party administrator. In 2022 alone, we received more than $53 million in donations and, through these donations, awarded more than $45 million in financial assistance to nearly 49,000 individuals worldwide. Over the last three years combined, $291 million in received donations made it possible to award $205 million in grants. These numbers demonstrate that many companies want to do their part in taking care of their own.
Impact for Affected Ukrainians
In the aftermath of the unforeseen, third-party-administered relief funds can help qualified applicants rebuild and recover. Our 350+ funds – each sponsored by an organization dedicated to helping their own – have provided $7.6+ million in financial assistance to nearly 7,500 individuals and families impacted by the conflict.
But what does “impact” truly mean? It’s difficult to provide a true picture of what financial assistance means without insights from individuals and families themselves, specifically from those in war-torn Ukraine. What you’ll see below is just a snapshot of the impact value companies are making through Emergency Assistance Foundation’s relief funds.
“As a result of the military invasion of Ukraine, my family, due to the threat to their lives, had to leave their home and evacuate to the territory of another country. In this new place, it was necessary to rent housing, buy food and necessities. Thanks to this grant, my family was able to provide for themselves at a time where there was no understanding of what would happen next and how to act. Those who turn to the foundation for help can be sure that they will receive support and will not be left alone in difficult times. I am infinitely grateful to those who donate to the fund. This is an important help and support for those who find themselves in a difficult situation.”
“I applied for this grant to help provide the necessities my family and I needed to survive during the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. This relief fund is so very important, providing hope to those impacted. Just knowing that there are others out there who will lend a helping hand in difficult times is inspiring.”
“My family was forced to flee Ukraine during this war, so I decided to apply for this grant. Since the financial help was equal to one paycheck, it truly helped so much. I could afford a temporary apartment for 3 weeks until we figured out what was next for us. I’m very grateful and would like to thank all who have contributed to this fund. It is so crucial to have help when your family is going through a terrifying situation.”
Sadly, there seems to be no end in sight for this conflict, meaning impact will continue, and companies will continue to have the opportunity to assist through financial relief.
In the end, employee relief funds exist to do the right thing by assisting those in need who qualify for financial support. And for those who never anticipated this reality and continue to feel the ramifications of war, this relief helps to provide hope.
Douglas Stockham is president and co-founder of Emergency Assistance Foundation, based in West Palm Beach, Fla., and serving organizations worldwide.