Stand with Ukraine

Stand with Ukraine logo
Quick donation

Foundation of Ukrainian Resilience: How and Why We Created a ITOMYCH Charity Fund

August 23, 2022
7 min to read
Foundation of Ukrainian Resilience: How and Why We Created a ITOMYCH Charity Fund

Six months ago, Elina Botalova, an event manager in the HR Department of ITOMYCH STUDIO, woke up in Kharkiv to unusual sounds. “Neighbors have started repairs”, she could have thought. In fact, a different neighbor had launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and since then, the lives of all team members have changed beyond recognition.

The very first message from Elina’s family clarified the situation: “The war has started”. She didn’t know what to do during the starting hours: stay at home, go to work, or run to the shelter in the subway. For the first few days, she did nothing but surfed through the news and sent “How are you?” text messages to family and friends, eager for replies.

This is just one story of the many among our teammates’.

When the full-scale invasion started, Elina and many of our colleagues lived in the district of North Saltivka in Kharkiv, which is still under daily shelling. Even though they were going through a terrible ordeal, our HR team specialists did their best to save our team members. While sheltering in the apartment hallways, basements, and subway stations, they devised evacuation plans for their co-workers and booked places further from the front lines for their safe stay.

After Elina and our HR team made sure their families and co-workers were safe, they felt that just working wouldn’t be enough.

“We felt we could give more than 100%. One of the skills we employ is to find the most important things in the shortest possible terms. Many of us felt that this skill may help Ukraine”.

Origins of the Fund

In April 2022, Itomych Charity Fund was created almost spontaneously. As with many other social projects of the company, CEO Ihor Tomych came up with the idea, which other team members liked a lot. Elina Botalova became the head of the fund.

"At first, they asked me to find a helmet, then a bulletproof vest, then a thermal imager. I am pretty good at finding things quickly since my time as an office manager in the company”, says Elina.

Several team members volunteered for Territorial Defense or the Armed Forces of Ukraine, so first “orders” came from them. Then they asked to find armor and equipment for their brothers-in-arms or even their entire platoon. Up to this point, most of the needs were covered by company funds or private donations from team members.

Elina explains:

“I quickly learned, I couldn't help everyone. However, even limited help to several units makes a big difference. Their will to fight grows, and our faith in the victory grows as well. I think the value of smaller charities comes from the fact that we have special kind of bond with servicemen we support”.

Later with more requests came a challenge of scarcity of necessary equipment in Ukraine. At that point, the need for an official fund became obvious, to make logistics easier, solve some legal problems, and coordinate request and supply phases. Bringing in a lot of equipment from abroad is much easier for entities in comparison to individuals.

Providing servicemen and servicewomen (at least one-third of the Ukrainian Armed Forces are women) with necessary gear is not only about meeting their needs and making them happy. The help of civil society is a huge motivator that shows them: you’re not alone, we’re with you, and we support you! And this is what really drives Elina.

“The good always wins. In this war, it’s easy to tell who is good and who is evil. So, when we help our soldiers get what they need and they cheer up, I know that what we do is important, that we are part of the victory and not just bystanders. So, now I can even breathe more freely”, says Elina Botalova.

Workflow of the Fund

The Fund is an organization with many rules to follow, so we are lucky to have a strong legal team that set up the work from the beginning and made sure that everything was done properly.

  1. First, a military unit, battalion, platoon, etc sends a request to the fund. It must be properly documented, like having the head of a unit sign a formal request making sure that a military division is asking for the right kind of equipment. Sometimes they write down precise specifications, sometimes just give general descriptions.
  2. Then we look into the market to see where we can find the right equipment, where we can get it faster, and where the price and quality are the best.
  3. At the same time, we start fundraising for this request. We have an idea of how much the equipment may approximately cost, even though the search is still on. The company covers part of the money, so we can pay sellers ahead of time to get gear shipped ASAP.
  4. When the purchase and delivery terms are set, we prepare the paperwork for customs in case we buy from an abroad seller. As strange as it may be, sometimes we may find what we need in Ukraine.
  5. Also, we make official papers to formally transfer the equipment to the military unit. It helps to keep track of everything we buy for them and guarantee that the money goes where it should.

We stay in touch with the servicemen we help, however we are open to requests from others as well.

“We know that there are no small donations. Sometimes, as little as $5 is all you need to finish a certain fundraising effort. One person can do it, it is just the price of a cup of coffee”, says Elina Botalova.

Ways of the Fund

At ITOMYCH STUDIO, we started remote in 2020, when the COVID-19 broke. Later, when we had a chance to go back to the office, we decided to introduce a hybrid mode, which worked well for us. Now that our team is spread geographically over multiple cities, countries, and continents, it actually boosts the work of our fund.

How so?

First, all communication takes place online. A big part of what the fund does is search on the Internet and phone calls.

Second, in most European countries and in North America, there are people who not only donate to the fund, but also send packages, track them, and make sure it gets to their final destination. Some gear sellers (unbelievably) don’t have websites, so visiting local stores helps even at the search stage.

Third, people on our team become experts in tactical gear. Just joking!

“What keeps me motivated is seeing how people in Ukraine and abroad respond, share contacts, and join the search. It feels like we’re not the only ones going through this. Who has Russia come to fight with? Not only with Ukrainians, obviously”.

This also means we can’t stop and must go on. Most importantly, please, keep donating to the funds you trust. Besides charitable contributions, you can share information about donations online. We counted that one repost/retweet brings at least $20 on average. What if 100 people posted it? And if 1000?

There is a reason this article was published the day before Independence Day in Ukraine. The Armed Forces of Ukraine protect our country's independence today, and we try to help them as much as we can. Defending our independence is a cause we all care about, and we just can’t stand by.

If you want to join our cause and donate through ITOMYCH Charity Fund, please, follow the link.