Meet Svitlana, Lightful's Ukrainian Digital Communications Coach!

Róisín McGovern
Head of Programmes
01 Jul 2024

We're delighted to introduce Svitlana, a passionate and dedicated Digital Communications Coach from Kyiv, Ukraine, as the newest member of the Lightful team.

With a rich background in international partnerships and fundraising, Svitlana brings a wealth of experience and a deep commitment to supporting grassroots organisations. In this interview, Svitlana shares her journey, insights on the importance of digital resilience for charities in Ukraine, and her vision for the future of the nonprofit sector in her homeland. 💜

Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where do you live, what are your hobbies and passions?

Sure! My name is Svitlana, I live in Kyiv, Ukraine, which is my favourite city on Earth. I’ve spent a few years studying abroad but always knew I would come back. I love travelling, taking photos, learning new languages and getting to know other cultures.


Can you tell us about your previous role?

Before joining Lightful, I worked as a fundraising manager at Take Care charity which is building an ecosystem to ensure people in Ukraine have access to quality mental healthcare. And I gained most of my philanthropy experience working as an International Partnerships Manager at Zagoriy Foundation, helping grassroots organisations raise awareness about their work.


Why did you decide to join the Lightful team?

Working at Zagoriy Foundation, I had a great opportunity to work with the Lightful team while Lightful was conducting their first BRIDGE programme in Ukraine - Buildling Resilience in Digital Growth and Engagement. I enjoyed collaborating with a wonderful team of professionals who were passionate about helping grassroots organisations around the world build their resilience. Thus, when I saw there was an open position, I thought it would be amazing to work with such a team, and also contribute by bringing my skills and perspective!

Why do you think it is important for charities in Ukraine to build their digital resilience?

Since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion, we have seen the nonprofit sector in Ukraine mobilise to address the urgent challenges posed by the war. The digital environment has enabled local organisations to broadcast their impact to a vast international audience and raise funds for their programmes and crisis response. However, in order to achieve a lasting impact, it is important to have the skills to help address needs not only here and now, but also by building relationships with service users, donors, partners and other stakeholders. That is why I believe that it is very important to invest time and capacity organisational learning and development.

Can you share a little about your experience working with nonprofits who are living in conflict?

Working in a state of war is incredibly difficult, and I also experienced this when working in Kyiv from the first days of full-scale war. Daily shelling, problems with light and communication, forced migration, a huge number of urgent tasks — these are only a few factors affecting employees of nonprofit organisations in Ukraine and their mental state. The number of needs is constantly increasing, and it is very difficult to find a balance between immediate response and strategic planning and development. That's why I admire even more the participants of the BRIDGE programme who, even in such conditions, find time and strength to learn in order to achieve even greater results in the future. And at the same time, I am very grateful to Lightful for the flexibility and the ability to structure the programme in such a way as to adapt it to the needs of organisations in different conditions.


Do you have any thoughts on how Ukraine could explore engaging with its diaspora community to support reconciliation and recovery?

The use of digital channels is indeed a huge opportunity for local organisations to raise awareness of their work and attract support from communities around the world. Thanks to their connections with communities, the diaspora plays a crucial role in communicating the problems and challenges faced by society in Ukraine. Therefore, I believe that each of us should advocate for the support of local organisations that understand the current context, and that these organisations should invest time and capacity to tell stories of impact.


Is there a Ukrainian charity you admire that you would like to mention?

Oh, there are so many! Ukraine's nonprofit sector is developing very actively and new and very powerful organisations are emerging all the time, and they never cease to impress. However, I can name a few that I actively follow:

  • Voices of Children provides psychological and psychosocial support to children affected by the war.
  • Tabletochki charitable foundation provides assistance to children and their families at every stage of cancer treatment.
  • Starenki helps lonely elderly people in Ukraine.
  • Rescue Now is providing Ukrainians with food, medicine and qualified psychological help and rescuing people from the frontline areas.
  • UAnimals is advocating for animal welfare and protection from exploitation and cruelty.

But I could go on for hours!

What would your message be to funders looking to support Ukrainian nonprofits and civil society organisations?

Support local organisations! Local nonprofit organisations understand the context very well, as they have been working on social problems for a long time, have access to beneficiaries and partners, have their own networks of contacts and are in the best position to know the actual needs. In addition, they operate at full capacity in very difficult conditions, so the support of donors and partners is extremely important to ensure their continuous development and maximise impact.

How do you feel about the future of the nonprofit sector in Ukraine?

I would say that I am optimistic - despite all the difficulties that organisations are facing now, they are led by incredible people who are passionate about their work and want to change the world for the better. However, the nonprofit sector in Ukraine is still in its infancy, so we still have room to grow and develop, to learn best practices and share our experience not only in Ukraine but also around the world. In this context, I believe that capacity building and international networking is essential for the sector's development.



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