Russia’s war on Ukraine is tragic and deeply alarming. I don’t have words to describe the pain I’ve felt watching the horrors unfold. I can’t begin to imagine what life must be like for Ukrainians and the Ukrainian diaspora. Here is a resource from The New York Times about ways to help & donate.

Of course, the war is weighing heavily on people’s minds and hearts. And there are many incredible organizations — some that I get the privilege to work with — doing extraordinary things that directly impact people affected by this war. They should be raising money right now — a lot of it.

Meanwhile, I work on behalf of many worthy causes that do not have anything to do with supporting people affected by the war.

How do those organizations talk about their work while there is a war on?

BIG CAVEAT: I don’t know. And I think you should question anyone who tells you they do. But here are some of my instincts. I’m curious what your instincts are as well (so please drop them in comments).

(1) Pass the platform: Some organizations that do not directly work on war-related issues are in a position to rally their base to support like-minded organizations that do. For instance, one independent media outlet shared a crowdfunding campaign to support an independent Russian newsroom who suddenly lost all their revenue with sanctions and Putin’s clampdown.

(2) Share the good: Right now, people could use some upbeat news. Have a success story or a win? Share it. Today, I received a sanctuary tour video from an animal welfare organization that literally melted my heart in a good way.

(3) Listen: Through Sea Change Insight Panels, we have been tracking donor perceptions longitudinally for several years. Asking how donor are feeling during major moments — like the pandemic, the murder of George Floyd, the Capitol Riot and, now the war, gives organizations an opportunity to meaningfully engage with donors on a very human level. Don’t miss this opportunity to show compassion through listening.

(4) Ask: Just because you aren’t working on war-related issues doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask. One specific idea: Because mid-level donors tend to be deeply committed to causes they support, consider sending a note to those donors acknowledging the war and making a case for why their gift matters for you right now too. I think there is a way you can thread the needle of compassion for people affected by the war with a case for giving to you as well.

We are indeed living through unprecedented times. As a fundraiser and non profit leader, you are juggling so much and I wish you comfort and care.