Bitcoin donations to Ukraine's army surge as Russian forces roll in, with $3 million coming from just a single giver

Bitcoin donations to Ukraine's army surge as Russian forces roll in, with $3 million coming from just a single giver
Demonstrators seen at the Lincoln Memorial calling for the US to take action amid the Russia-Ukraine tensions.Kenny Holston/Getty Images
  • A Ukrainian NGO has raised over $4 million in bitcoin for the country's army since Russia attacked, Elliptic said.
  • One donor alone gave $3 million on Friday, the blockchain analytics company told Insider.

A Ukrainian nonprofit has raised bitcoin worth more than $4 million to support the country's army since Russia attacked, according to blockchain analytics company Elliptic.

Come Back Alive — a charitable foundation that collects money for medical kits, military gear and other items — took in over $675,000 in the cryptocurrency on Thursday, the day Russia's forces attacked Ukraine.

By Friday morning, it had received another $3.4 million in bitcoin, with $3 million coming from a single donor, Elliptic told Insider.

"Yesterday, we thought that was a shocking rise in donations. But this morning, it's totally eclipsed that," Jess Symington, research lead at Elliptic, said.

On Thursday, Russian president Vladimir Putin authorized a full-scale attack on Ukraine, and on Friday Russian forces have been advancing toward its neighbor's capital, Kyiv. The new wave of hostilities expanded the clash from a limited incursion over disputed land into the most serious armed conflict in Europe for at least a decade.


Come Back Alive has been the most successful group by far in raising money for Ukraine, she said. Founded in 2014, the NGO started accepting crypto donations four years later and saw a surge in bitcoin donations recently.

Symington said crypto assets provide an alternative funding route for people who can't navigate the international banking system, but do have access to bitcoin and can donate it easily.

"This is potentially a new factor in complex situations — the idea of fundraising and crowdfunding for defense efforts," she said.

Elliptic research found that givers can make quick cross-border donations using crypto assets, bypassing financial institutions that might be blocking payments.

Giving platform Patreon suspended Come Back Alive's fundraising campaign on its platform on Thursday, CNBC reported. The NGO had raised over $300,000 on the site, which is designed to help people give money to support writers and similar creators.


Accepting crypto can be good for fundraisers, too, Symington suggested.

"It provides another group, or access to a much larger group, of potential donors than just having fiat or Ukrainian fiat donation options," she said.

Volunteer groups have been an important part of the Russia-Ukraine conflict over the past decade and have been closely linked to the Ukraine government, Elliptic research showed.

Some have turned to cryptocurrencies for their efforts, Symington said, with local newspaper Kyiv Independent is fundraising in ethereum as well as bitcoin. Blue and Yellow is a Lithuanian movement that accepts bitcoin, ethereum, and litecoin.