Submitted by: Herb Schmidt, District Foundation Chair

Happy May Fellow Rotarians!

As the Ukraine crisis continues Rotarians keep stepping up to help those displaced by this war. Our District 5580 approved transferring $20,000 in DDF (District Designated Funds) to the Ukraine Disaster Recovery Fund. In addition D5580 applied for and received a $25,000 Disaster Recovery grant from the Rotary Foundation. This grant must be used within our district to provide aid to Ukraine. Your contributions to the Rotary Foundation are what makes this support possible. Numerous clubs have also been individually contributing directly through the Duluth Skyline Rotary club. The individual contributions are being administered by the Duluth Skyline club which has a working relationship with the Fryderyk Chopin Rotary club in Warsaw, Poland.

The following is an update on Rotarian support as of March 20 from Rotary Foundation Regional Cordinator, Rich Kaye.


Rotaract Europe

The European Rotaract Information Centre, a multidistrict information organization that serves Rotaractors all over Europe, created a United for Peace site that compiles information for refugees and volunteers.

  • The site offers information about free rail, bus, and air transportation available to refugees and lists details about what’s needed and how to help at specific national borders.
  • It also has fundraising details for hospitals in the western Ukraine city of Lviv, as well as for clubs that are helping in various places and for other organizations in the region.
  • The site lets Rotaractors coordinate shelter for refugees stranded at the border. Volunteer hosts can sign up through an online form and specify how many people they can house and for how long. Begun as an initiative to help fellow Rotary members leaving Ukraine, it’s now being used by Rotaract and Rotary members all over Europe to offer help.
  • A tool on the site links a demand for goods with available supplies. It was created within 48 hours after a team of 60 members from 10 countries met by videoconference about how to meet the most urgent needs.


Ukraine has 62 Rotary clubs and six satellite clubs with about 1,100 members, and 24 Rotaract clubs with more than 300 members.

  • District 2232 (Ukraine and Belarus) formed a committee to help people affected by the crisis. It has launched an appeal to Rotary members worldwide for funds to provide basic necessities.
  • The city of Lviv has had an influx of people displaced from other cities around Ukraine. The Rotary Club of Lviv International, working with local authorities and major hospitals, created an online spreadsheet of relief items that can be accessed by people who want to help. Members arrange for the donated items to be delivered to hospitals and coordinate storage with local warehouses.


Poland has taken in more than a million refugees, and Rotary clubs all over the country created a central account for contributions.

  • The Rotary Club of Olsztyn is collecting and managing donations for more than 150 Ukrainians who are staying at Ostróda Camp, a conference and recreation center. Most of the occupants are unaccompanied children whose parents stayed in Ukraine. Four cars full of supplies including food, clothes, toiletries, and toys were donated hours after the center began accepting refugees.
  • Members of the Rotary Club of Zamosc worked with a member of the Rotary Club of Wolsztyn, who owns a medical supply distribution company, to coordinate a partnership with other organizations to collect supplies and equipment.
  • The Rotary Club of Gdansk Centrum is providing accommodations for four refugee families, and members who own businesses are offering them work.

Other countries that border Ukraine

  • The Rotary Club of Kisvárda, Hungary, is coordinating contributions and mobilizing members to donate necessities and deliver the items to where they’re needed.
  • Rotary members in Romania and Moldova have created a central fund for contributions and set up WhatsApp groups that organize food donations and coordinate shelter for refugees.
  • In Slovakia and the Czech Republic, clubs have partnered with a railway and cargo company to offer transportation to nearly 2,300 refugees.

As you contemplate your support for the Ukraine, Charity Navigator shares some tips that are relevant to all crisis.

In emotional times, it's important to not to forget to give intelligently. Here are some tips that you can use to find and support trustworthy nonprofits that are responding in Ukraine and the surrounding areas, as well as for any future crisis.

  1. 1.Give with your heart, but also give with your head. Do your due diligence and consider using our ratings and information to make sure you can give with confidence. We strongly encourage you to support a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a proven track record. They ensure more accountability than personal fundraisers and your gift will be tax-deductible. 
  2. 2.Support trustworthy, impactful nonprofits with a strong commitment to financial health and accountability and transparency. Our Impact & Results, Culture & Community, and Leadership & Adaptability beacons (when available) will provide you with additional insight into a nonprofit’s capacity to achieve its mission.
  3. 3.Avoid high-pressure situations. It's okay to take some time to determine how and where you want to give. Use caution when giving over the phone or in-person.
  4. 4.Look for a clear, articulated strategy for how the nonprofit is responding to the crisis. For example, are they equipped to deliver humanitarian goods and services efficiently and cost-effectively through authorized parameters? Does the organization have a dedicated fund, which allows your donation to go specifically to that relief effort? A dedicated fund means you can restrict your giving to a specific purpose.
  5. 5.Donate through a trusted source. Be wary when clicking links on social media or email. Donating directly through the organization's site or via a trusted tool like our Giving Basket is safer. Additionally, donating using a credit card or PayPal provides you with added protection compared to donating with wire transfers.


Yours in Rotary Service,

Herb Schmidt, DRFC
D5580 PDG 2016-17
DRFC 2021-22