Mar 7, 2022 - Technology

Airbnb emerges as tool for direct donations to Ukrainians

Ina Fried
Photo illustration of the Airbnb logo on a smartphone with a bed in the background

Photo Illustration: Thiago Prudencio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

It's not quite what Airbnb was designed for, but a significant number of people are using the housing rental site as a way to quickly get money in the hands of Ukranian families.

How it works: People are booking listings in Ukraine, then letting their hosts know that it was a donation, not a rental. Because Airbnb is waiving fees, all the money can go directly to people in Ukraine.

Between the lines: The approach lacks some of the accountability and tax benefits of donating to a charity, but has an immediate, highly personal impact. According to NPR, such donations have already raised about $2 million.

What they're saying: Melanie Hollands, president of hedge fund Koala Capital, said she has booked a night at seven different listings.

  • "The grassroots aspect of donating via Airbnb appealed to me," Hollands told Axios. "It has the spirit of constructive civil disobedience."

Our thought bubble: While the crisis has brought out the best in many, there is certainly a risk that this trend could create opportunities for fraudsters. Hopefully, Airbnb has enough systems in place to prevent that from happening.

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