The way we support Ukraine matters in a digital global village
Why people are choosing airbnb and crypto as alternatives to nonprofits
As we witness the horrors in Ukraine, we can’t help but feel the need to lend support. There are so many ways to donate, from the International Committee of the Red Cross to the United Nations World Food Programme.
Yet many people are choosing alternatives to typical nonprofits. Just last week, more than 61,000 nights were booked via airbnb in Kyiv and neighboring areas. Obviously, people are not traveling to Ukraine, but they are using the platform to get money directly to airbnb hosts. In fact, more than $2 million has been donated to airbnb hosts, via “bookings” to date.
In addition, more than $50 million has been donated to Ukraine’s government via crypto. Donations have mostly been in the form of bitcoin and ether, however Ukraine is accepting more than 70 types of crypto assets. As reported by Time, Alex Bornyakov, deputy minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, said the government has already spent $15 million of these donations on military supplies.
So why are people choosing to use these unconventional routes to support Ukraine? In part, people are trusting big institutions less due to technology, according to Rachel Botsman (watch this TED Talk).
Simply put, these alternative, distributed, approaches feel more personal and more impactful. And in a world connected via technology, our expectations for personalization and connection have increased. On Saturday, I booked a single night in Kyiv and I know that my host Viktor will receive those funds. Just one human helping another. It felt significant, even emotional.
In media ecology theory, one might argue that digital communication is a return to a more community based way of connection. It has enabled us to live in a global village. As Marshall McLuhan said more 50 years ago, “We have become irrevocably involved with, and responsible for, each other,” due to digital media.
Truly, it’s hard not to feel a sense of community with people in Ukraine after you watch livestreams on TikTok with continuous air raid sirens in the background. That is likely why giving in more personal ways, supported by digital tools, is gaining in popularity.