Airbnb Proves a Surprising Donation Platform for Ukrainians—Here’s How
Ukraine may not currently be a top travel destination, but it’s receiving tens of thousands of bookings on Airbnb.
The conflict in Ukraine has captured the attention of the international community, with many looking for a way to offer aid to the country’s residents while they’re under attack. Now, Airbnb users have discovered an ingenious way to send funds directly to Ukrainians without using third-party relief organizations.
Over the past week, thousands of people have booked rooms, apartments, and entire houses in the country using Airbnb with no intention of ever staying there. This effectively sends donations to Ukrainian Airbnb hosts, ensuring that the funds go directly to them. We’ll explore the origins of the initiative, explain how it works, and provide suggestions on how to participate if you want to donate to Airbnb hosts in Ukraine.
The Campaign’s Origins
This social media campaign was started by Tommy Marcus, a popular Instagram user who goes by @quentin.quarantino. He wrote, “I shared an idea to support Ukraine by booking rooms for rent on Airbnb. 24 hours later, 100’s of people are booking Airbnbs in Ukraine as a way to send immediate monetary assistance to people in hard-hit areas.” Following Marcus’s initial post, the idea took off on Instagram and spread to other platforms. In just two days, people booked over 61,000 nights through Airbnb, resulting in donations of over $2 million. More than half of those Airbnb bookings were made by people living in the United States, while a large portion also came from residents of the UK.
While this initiative was not started by Airbnb, the company has made its own contributions to relief efforts. In addition to supporting the donations and waiving fees for bookings in Ukraine, they are also “contributing funds for temporary stays for up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine.” The company has also opted to suspend its services in Russia temporarily. If you want to open your home to refugees or donate directly to Airbnb’s initiative, more information can be found at Airbnb.org.
How to Participate
If this initiative appeals to you and you want to lend your support, head to Airbnb in order to find a listing that fits within the price range that you’d like to donate. Feel free to book a single night or multiple nights, depending on your ability. Look for properties that are available over the next couple of days to ensure that your donation reaches the host as promptly as possible. Funds are transferred to the host 24 hours after the initial check-in time occurs.
Once you’ve booked, send a message to the host letting them know that you’re simply sending financial support and won’t be using the property.
Choosing the Right Listing
Before participating in this relief effort, it’s important to know how to choose the right listing to ensure that your funds will reach Ukrainians who need them the most. Some may be concerned that Airbnb hosts may not be the neediest members of Ukrainian society. While it would be fair to assume that anyone who can afford to own and rent out a property isn’t in desperate need of financial aid, there are some ways to ensure your funds are going to the Airbnb hosts who would most benefit from your donation.
Look for shared rooms or homes, as well as listings outside of the country’s major cities. When you’ve chosen a unit, take a couple of minutes to check out the host’s profile to ensure the unit is rented by an individual rather than a property management firm. On the host’s profile, you’ll be able to see how many listings they have. Hosts with multiple listings may not benefit from your donation as much as those with a single listing.
Unfortunately, some people are attempting to take advantage of the generosity of strangers and have listed fake properties in Ukraine despite not residing there or having any involvement in the current conflict. The best way to avoid these scams is by booking a property that has been reviewed by guests to verify that it’s genuine.
Use Airbnb’s website or app to participate, or use PayPal to donate directly to Airbnb’s fund for housing Ukrainian refugees.