Ukraine newspaper appeals raise over £3m in first week of invasion

UK newspaper appeals raise millions in first week of Ukraine invasion

Ukraine newspaper appeals

UK news brands have raised more than £3m for Ukrainian refugees and war zone victims in the first week since Vladimir Putin launched his invasion.

The Mail titles, Sun, Independent and Evening Standard all launched their own appeals within days of the invasion while other news outlets have signposted readers directly to charities.

UK newspapers have a history of campaigning and using their clout for charity appeals. Sun editor Victoria Newton told Press Gazette last year it was instilled in her when she joined the paper 20 years ago that it “should always be showing that we have a heart and we’re compassionate and that we care about people as do our readers”, while Mirror editor-in-chief Alison Phillips wrote that “good campaigns are the way newsbrands show solidarity with their readers”.

Read on for a round-up of the appeals run by UK news brands. If we have missed any, including any donations from publishers, please let us know on pged@pressgazette.co.uk and we will update this story.

Mail Newspapers

The Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday launched an appeal to support charities on the ground on Sunday. Mail Online, which traditionally operates separately from its print colleagues, later joined forces on the appeal.

The group said donations would be distributed to charities and aid organisations providing accommodation, schooling and medical support for refugees from Ukraine, including Care International and the Red Cross.

In its first 24 hours the appeal raised more than £268,000 from readers and Mail owner Lord Rothermere put in £500,000 to kick-start the campaign.

As of Thursday morning, the appeal reached £2.55 million, including a “substantial” donation from the Duchess of Cornwall. Other well-known backers include Dame Judi Dench and Michael Palin, while the British firm Peak Scientific, which said it has business partners stuck in Ukraine, donated £250,000.

The Mail titles said the appeal had reached £3 million on Thursday night following a £100,000 donation from Lord Ashcroft among many others.

The campaign is run by the Mail Force charity, which launched in April 2020 to procure and distribute PPE to the NHS and other healthcare workers amid a shortage at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and won the public service prize at the British Journalism Awards that year. The charity later pivoted to provide computers for children learning at home during the third Covid-19 lockdown. The fact the appeal is run through Mail Force means readers can boost their donations by 25p for every £1 through Gift Aid.

Mail Newspapers editor Ted Verity said on Thursday: “The immediate response and extraordinary generosity by Mail readers towards the people of Ukraine in their hour of need has been quite simply overwhelming and has resulted in this refugee appeal becoming the fastest newspaper fundraiser in world history.

“We will ensure every penny of the campaign money, now being collected by the Mail Force charity, is being passed to the aid organisations helping with this emergency crisis.”

Rafal Sakowski, chief rescue coordinator for the Polish Red Cross, said: “We need to help the Ukrainian people in Poland with food and trying to find a place for them to stay.

“The money from the Mail will be very useful to help those fleeing Ukraine, so thank you very much. The British people are very generous.”

The Sun

The Sun launched its Ukraine Fund on Sunday, telling readers their money will go to the Red Cross to help women, children, the elderly and infirm in Ukraine and its bordering countries, and provide medical help for the wounded.

The newspaper has not yet shared the total raised but its owner News UK put in £100,000. It also said eBay had donated £150,000, Barratt Homes put in £50,000 and that readers had come forward “in their droves” – but that total is harder to share as they are sent straight to the Red Cross.

The appeal has received support from numerous political figures including current and former prime ministers Boris Johnson, Theresa May, David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and John Major.

British Red Cross chief executive Mike Adamson said: “Your donations will help us reach people with food, water, medicine, medical equipment and other essentials. We thank Sun readers for your kind support.”

Johnson said: “I pay tribute to the overwhelming response from Sun readers to help the people of Ukraine. The United Kingdom has a long and proud history of coming to the aid of those in desperate need, and we have seen that spirit in droves.”

The Independent and Evening Standard

The Independent and Evening Standard, which are both owned by Russian-born businessman Evgeny Lebedev, together raised almost £120,000 in the first 48 hours of their appeal, which planned to split the money between Red Cross and Save the Children.

However on Thursday the titles said their appeal would expand and go to the new Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Ukrainian Humanitarian Appeal, which is taking donations for 13 charities. The UK government said it would match donations to the DEC by up to £20 million.

With the Refugees Welcome campaign, The Independent also called for the UK government to set up a resettlement scheme to give sanctuary for Ukrainians.

Of the campaign, which originally ran during the Syrian civil war, acting editor David Marley said: “It’s the least we can do.”

Lebedev himself wrote a personal appeal to Putin to stop the invasion on the front page of the Evening Standard on Monday.

The i

The i, which is owned by the same company as the Mail titles, partnered with the DEC to launch its own fundraising page on Friday morning. It raised £40,000 donations plus gift aid plus matched donations from the UK Government within the first five hours, according to editor Oly Duff.

Anthem Publishing

Specialist magazine publisher Anthem Publishing, whose titles include Vegan Food & Living, Gluten-Free Heaven, Women’s Running and Vintage Rock, donated £10,000 to the British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal.

It also said it would donate 5% of its monthly profits to the appeal throughout 2022 and encourage readers to donate, giving more than £70,000 worth of print and online advertising inventory to promote it.

Chief executive Jon Bickley and managing director Simon Lewis urged the Professional Publishers Association and other media companies to make similar moves, saying: “This war and its possible ramifications transcend anything we’ve witnessed and we call on our colleagues in the industry to ask what you can do to support Ukraine in its fight for survival and for democracy.”

Open Democracy

Open Democracy launched an appeal to support Ukrainian media and journalists, which raised more than £25,000 in two days and, as of 1pm on Friday, has reached £30,000. The online outlet is matching the funds raised.

The funds will be split between The Institute of Mass Information, which is providing journalists with safety equipment and will help them evacuate from the frontline where necessary, branches of public broadcaster Suspilne in eastern Ukraine, and helping fund the work of Ukrainian journalists that have worked with Open Democracy.

Open Democracy has often worked with local journalists in Ukraine and Russia and its contributor Greg Yudin was last week beaten and hospitalised for taking part in an anti-war protest in Moscow.

Editor-in-chief Peter Geoghegan told Press Gazette: “Journalists in Ukraine are risking their lives to bring the world the facts about Russia’s invasion of their country.

“We at Open Democracy stand in solidarity with them. For that reason this week we are giving the money we usually receive from our readers to support Ukrainian media outlets and journalists, including those who have lost their homes.

“The response from Open Democracy’s readers has been remarkable. In less than two days we have raised more than £25,000 to help Ukrainian journalists. Open Democracy’s readers and supporters have shown just how much journalism – and journalists – matters.”

Other appeals

Other news outlets are encouraging readers to donate directly to various charities.

The Guardian highlighted a campaign to raise money to help independent Ukrainian media keep going, and others such as The Telegraph and The Times have told readers how they can help and what different charities are doing. The Express directed readers towards the Help Ukraine Emergency Appeal and British-Ukrainian Aid.

Following the launch of the DEC on Thursday morning, Sky News said it would broadcast appeals for funds – as will other news channels.

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