How does SIRIN spend the money it raises?
It depends upon what type of fundraising and operation we are talking about but historically speaking we spend about 90% of what we raise on actual equipment while about 10% goes to covering costs — on everything from legal fees to paying in-country personnel to renting office and accommodations to buying gasoline for our transport vehicles. For our new store's merch and items, we now give a specific breakdown of how after-cost proceeds proceeds are spent. We're very excited about this concept because not only does it allow for transparency but it also gives us the ability take on a variety of very specific causes simultaneously and let our supporters vote with their purchases which ones they like best.
Is SIRIN a non-profit?
Although SIRIN was originally conceived of as one "project" underneath the larger umbrella of a public charity doing humanitarian aid work in Ukraine, we found as time went on that it made the most sense to focus on filling supply gaps of high tech "dual-use" equipment and eventually the training of military units. Unfortunately neither of these things is considered a "charitable activity" by the IRS, and so we withdrew our Form 1023 application and formed a simpler LLC "for-profit" entity. This doesn't mean that SIRIN exists to make money off the war, however. It does mean that we operate at a margin, making sure we can cover all sorts of incurred expenses and also reinvest in our operations so that we may hopefully create a bigger impact over time.
The United States and other countries are giving billions in aid. Why is this necessary?
It is true that the USA and other countries have provided huge amounts of military aid, both equipment and funding wise. (We have started to apply for some of the latter ourselves.) However, at present there also continues to be significant supply gaps for the types of equipment we focus upon — e.g., night vision, thermal optics, milspec drones. We literally have dozens of highly trained and qualified military units on our requests lists who still lack these things many months into the war. The reasons for this are complicated and have to do with a multitude of factors including bureaucracy. That's why we're here — to cut through the nonsense and get our guys what they need, as fast as we can. It's an uphill battle and we have a long way to go. But with your support, we can surely reach our goals faster.
I have some night vision or other equipment I want to donate. Can I give it to SIRIN?
For certain high value items like night vision or thermal optics, we are definitely eager to talk about the possibilities of supplying such gear into Ukraine. However, with each new item usually comes a long list of regulatory compliance obligations and logistical issues. So we usually try to focus on supplying fewer items at scale. That being said, feel free to email us and ask as there are always special cases.
Can I volunteer to work for SIRIN?
If you will be in Ukraine for a significant period and have a background relevant to our operations (particularly military, logistics, media or fundraising) we would love to hear from you. Alternatively, if you will not be in Ukraine but know of some way you can help from where you currently reside, don't be shy in letting us know. The lifeblood of SIRIN and the greater western aid community here is committed volunteers.