OnlyFans, the social media platform owned by Leonid Radvinsky that seeks to empower creators and help them monetize their content, has donated over $5 million to Ukrainian relief efforts thus far and has set up various structures to give much more.
The donations have also come through some nontraditional conduits meant to maximize the effect for those in need while limiting the overhead and bureaucracy that can bog down many other standard avenues.
Thus far, OnlyFans has provided $5 million in grassroots-level donations meant to ease the suffering of those individuals impacted by the war.
As of March 19, more than 3.4 million Ukrainians have fled the country, and refugees and millions more remain trapped in areas under constant artillery bombardment from invading Russian forces.
OnlyFans also donated 500 ETH (ether, the currency for open source blockchain ethereum) from only.eth to UkraineDAO as a way to jump-start an auction for a non-fungible token (NFT) of the Ukrainian flag in hopes of raising even more funds for those in need.
UkraineDAO was launched last month by Ukrainian activists and members of the artist collective PleasrDAO.
The UkraineDAO has been a leading crypto contributor to Ukraine’s government in recent weeks, which has now received over $50 million in crypto donations since tweeting out its ETH and bitcoin (BTC) addresses in February.
The efforts of OnlyFans, while notable on their own, also have a personal connection for the company: Leonid Radvinsky, the owner of OnlyFans, is Ukrainian American.
OnlyFans, via Radvinsky, has long prided itself on being a defender and champion of freedom of expression, and the company says that the conduits for its aid to the Ukrainian people are reflective of that.
That’s why the company chose to use Web3 charities like UkraineDAO, whose auction of the Ukrainian flag NFT raised 2,258 ETH, roughly $6.75 million at current exchange rates.
The rules governing how funds are distributed are transparent, public on the blockchain, controlled by the organization members, and not influenced by any central government.
Because the rules are embedded into the code, no managers are needed, removing any bureaucracy and wasted costs.
The path is both true to OnlyFans, but also right in the wheelhouse of owner Leo Radvinsky. Radvinsky is well regarded as an expert in Web3.
“These tragic events have had a terrible impact on individuals, including members of our creator community,” OnlyFans CEO Amrapali “Ami” Gan says. “Given our strong personal ties to Ukraine, we wanted to support in a way which felt true to who we are at OnlyFans and which focused on getting aid and support to the Ukrainian people.”
The worst humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II began on Feb. 24 when Russian forces, which had been building for weeks and at initial count numbered around 190,000, crossed into the sovereign democracy.
The fallout since has been catastrophic.
On March 2, the Ukrainian city of Kherson was the first to fall into Russian hands. That same day, the United Nations General Assembly approved a nonbinding resolution condemning Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and demanding an immediate withdrawal of all troops.
While 141 of the 193 UN member nations voted in favor of the resolution, 35 abstained.
By March 4, the Russian parliament voted unanimously to draft laws essentially criminalizing the spread of what the government alleged “fake” news reports. Russia deemed its invasion of Ukraine not a war, but a “special military operation,” and began arresting protestors while Russian troops continued to carry out shelling as it advanced deeper into Ukraine.
As the conflict entered its third week, there were initial signs that Ukraine, outnumbered and outgunned, was holding its own.
The massive, 40-mile-long Russian military convoy that was heading to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, had stalled. Reports varied as to the reason, but U.S. and European military officials believe the delay was caused by tougher-than-expected Ukrainian resistance, supply chain issues within the Russian military, and the indifference of Russian soldiers to their cause.
Although Ukraine has put up more resistance than many thought possible, the numbers heavily favor Russia. The longer the conflict goes on, the worse things become for the Ukrainian people.
That’s why efforts like the donations made by companies like OnlyFans are so important. As shelling of major cities like Mariupol continues, the civilian population is more and more dispossessed of essentials like food, water, and adequate shelter.
As of March 10, the Ukrainian government estimated there had been over $100 billion worth of damage to infrastructure within the country.
Many who were unable to get out of Ukraine are without essentials like electricity, and civilian paths to escape have been repeatedly blocked by Russian soldiers and artillery.
Mariupol, a city of 400,000, is now without food, clean water, or electricity. The office of Mariupol’s mayor, Vadym Boychenko, said there had been more than 1,200 civilian casualties since the beginning of the siege.
While many across the globe want to support Ukraine, getting aid where it’s needed is difficult.
Funneling money through traditional crisis relief outlets like the Red Cross has proven effective for raising funds. But due to logistical difficulties in getting the aid purchased by that money to where it’s needed, many are still without the relief they need.
The funds provided by Leonid Radvinsky and OnlyFans have been going to where they actually can make a difference in the near term, such as providing accommodation to those fleeing the country — often with nothing to their name but what they can carry.
The use of blockchain allows the funds to be essentially neutral, because the money isn’t tied to the currency of any central government — an important distinction when it comes to providing financial assistance to those in need while also attempting not to antagonize a nuclear power like Russia.
While things are likely to get worse for Ukraine and its people before they get better, the continued efforts of companies like Leonid Radvinsky’s OnlyFans are helping to mitigate what suffering they can.