Conclusions: Come Back Alive. Taras Chmut

Conclusions: Come Back Alive. Taras Chmut

For the third year in a row, at the end of December, Svidomi conducts summary broadcasts on our Ukrainian Instagram page, where it talks about what has changed in Ukraine over the year in various areas: the military, culture, medicine, education, the judiciary and political spheres.

"Come Back Alive" supports defenders of Ukraine who have changed their usual life and gone to the line of defense.

With the head of the fund, a veteran of the Russian-Ukrainian war, Taras Chmut, we discuss the foundation's activities during the full-scale war.

Preparation for a full-scale invasion

A month before February 24, the team held a meeting to consider different options for work in case of a full-scale offensive. We were even planning to relocate to Ivano-Frankivsk if necessary. We made purchases of the necessary equipment and expanded the base of contacts. In mid-February, Come Back Alive started receiving a large number of donations. The main task of the team on February 24 was to show up at the office and then act according to the needs.

As of February 20, the team consisted of 27 people. In 2022, we planned to recruit 11 more people. Today, Come Back Alive has 104 positions, 76 people, 12 contractors, 4 departments, and a director.

The funds raised

In the first days of the war, the fund collected ₴1 billion. In March, a little more. Since then, the number of donations fell almost six times due to new players in the market and the economic downturn. That is why Come Back Alive wants to enter the Western market, particularly the USA. However, in the United States, there are strict legal frameworks for helping the armies of other countries. The foundation's team has already begun to regularly travel there and research the American market.

Currently, 80% of the needs are covered by Ukrainian donations, and 20% by external ones, which are mainly in cryptocurrency. It is difficult for the foundation to receive funds from abroad due to the bandwidth of banks that block certain transactions from the United States. For example, out of ten transfers, only four may arrive. The team is working on a solution. Another problem is the impossibility of opening a PayPal account for legal entities.

For the last six months, the fund has been receiving an equal amount of funds, which allows for covering needs and implementing projects. Small initiatives are also expected to be fully covered over time.

In total, this year the fund has raised six billion hryvnias, excluding cryptocurrency.

The Patreon incident

The Come Back Alive Patreon was the world's largest fundraiser on February 24. It was then that Patreon blocked the ability to transfer donations to the fund. To solve the situation, Come Back Alive contacted all possible influential people — it did not help. For those who want to send a certain amount to the fund every month, there is now an option to sign up for recurring payments on the site. It is convenient and the program is expected to expand.

Collaborations with businesses and communication with the government

Now everyone wants to cooperate with the fund. Come Back Alive communicates with the General Staff and various branches of the armed forces, mostly with the ground forces. There is little cooperation with the Ministry of Defense, most often we ask them for permits. Also, the maximum level of cooperation with the Main Directorate of Intelligence, Security Service of Ukraine, and National Security and Defense Council.

The team will continue to cooperate with the IT sector. This is a great resource and the direction least affected by the war. Although now it also faces challenges due to blackouts.

Largest projects

The largest is the purchase of Bayraktar TB2, which includes three aircraft, a ground station, and ammunition. The team spent $16.5 million on this. This project was without intermediaries, exclusively between the fund and the manufacturing company. There has never been anything like it in the history of the volunteer movement. Now, these complexes are in the Main Directorate of Intelligence.

The second is the purchase of workshops for the maintenance and repair of equipment. The foundation has purchased six such workshops, the last one to be delivered by December 31, 2022. In total, during the first 30 days of work, such workshops restored 31 Hummers with medium damage levels.

The third is the foundation's total contribution to aerial reconnaissance for the military.

The fourth is the purchase of 11 armored vehicles used by the 36th Marine Brigade in eastern Ukraine. Another one of the projects is the recently announced "Long Arms of Territorial Defense" (reconnaissance and strike complexes — "Ruky" ("arms" in English) — ed.) for the purchase of mortars.

Black Box is the first case in history when people donated ₴230 million for something no one knows about. This demonstrates public trust in the fund. What was purchased earlier is already working now, but Ukrainians are in for a surprise.

Challenges for next year

1. To survive the winter — from the point of view of heat and electricity.

2. To hold the country's north in case of escalation.

3. Not to despair, not to celebrate victory right now, and not to stop supporting the Armed Forces.

Ukraine must not compromise with the enemy.

The foundation's future

The fund is developing as an institution. The team plans to open a humanitarian or medical direction. After the victory, Ukraine will need to transform the defense sector, and the foundation will participate in this. However, there is no prospect of a quick victory yet.

On volunteering in Ukraine in general

War is not only a problem for the state but also for the entire society. Volunteering is joining the war. Without it, the country would not have survived on February 24. Ukraine's advantage in this war is a much better provision of soldiers, and a potentially better trained and motivated nation, in contrast to Russia, which prevails in the number of equipment. Volunteers strengthen and complement the state.