We've now raised €100,000 for drones delivered to the Ukrainian Army, including lots of advanced drones with night vision. The list of delivered drones below is out of date but we'll get it updated very soon with all the new ones that have gone across (as well as plenty more thank you messages from the units). About half of the money raised came from our own pockets and we're going to do that again to further incentivise donations. We'll soon launch a special appeal in which we will match all next donations up to €10,000 so that we double every euro received from our personal funds. We're still delivering Mavic 3s, which are proving effective with the Ukranian units who know how to specially adapt them, but we've also finally been able to get more advanced Autels, which are at the top of the wish list for many units, so that is our main priority going forward. Finally, we've also been supporting a new drone school for Ukrainian defenders so that they can learn how to operate them and get the most value out of them before heading to the frontline.
What is Adopt a Drone?
Ukraine urgently needs more of everything. That includes commercially available equipment that ordinary citizens of the world like us can get for them. One thing the Ukrainian army needs, for example, is more off-the-shelf drones that ground forces use to locate and improve targeting against invaders. The challenge is understanding which ones are currently most required, sourcing them, pooling donations to bulk buy them at a decent price from generous Ukraine-supporting retailers, and then delivering them to the Ukrainian Army. But we do that bit. We just need more money to do it more.
How does it work?
We're based in Estonia and partnered with Lift99, a coworking space in Tallinn and Kyiv that is involved in organising regular convoys between Estonia and Ukraine under the initiative of entrepreneur Ragnar Sass. (He cofounded the unicorn startup Pipedrive). This network allows us to both continuously understand the evolving requirements for commercial drones from Ukrainian Army units and deliver to them. We are currently sourcing drones from droon.ee, which has provided generous support, but we are also mapping additional supply chain options.
How can I trust you?
To make this work, we've partnered with Lift99, which is a popular coworking space in both Estonia and Finland set up by Piepdrive cofounder Ragnar Sass with the wide support of the Estonian startup community. They have put huge amounts of money into supporting Ukraine themselves, including by delivering 50 high end vehicles to 41 Ukrainian Army units (and more on the way). Here's a new story about it in Estonia's public broadcaster, ERR. It is those convoys that we are piggybacking on for this initiative. Lift99 Ukraine also collect the donations for us, makes the purchases (which also means they don't have to pay VAT as it's from outside the EU) and then knows exactly how many we pick up and deliver to the convoys. So 100% of the money you donate will go straight to drones - and we've also put in about €11,000 of our own money so far. We also have crypto accounts so those balances will be entirely transferred to Lift99 and also audited by them (although the transactions are publicly recorded on the blockchain already). So we are mostly reliant on Lift99's own credibility but if there's anything else we can do to provide extra transparency then we are happy to hear it and do it. For example, if any journalists wanted to look through our accounts and confirm the numbers delivered then they are very welcome. No one involved wants a single cent to go anywhere except where it's most needed to support Ukraine.
Will these drones make a big difference?
No. The whole world needs to do more to support Ukraine in every way possible, including with much more, much bigger equipment. This Adopt a Drone idea actually began with two friends discussing how Ukraine could get more fighter jets, then we realised that the most useful thing we could do right now is buy commercial drones and send them over. Then we decided to create this site as another opportunity for more people to do it with us. These drones are currently proving themselves to be valuable to those Ukrainian Army units that receive them and every little contribution helps a little bit. Check out this video of these drones being used in Ukraine.
Aren't people already doing this?
Yes. Huge numbers of drones like ours have been donated by various people through various initiatives across Europe. It's why it's so difficult for anyone to buy particular drones at the moment. We just want to add one more way for people to get involved that's easy and trusted. And also ensure as many drones as possible end up in the hands of Ukrainian defenders before they are bought up by people who want them for recreation. Sorry, but priorities.
I see DJI drones here. Are they secure?
All we can say about this is that we select drones requested by Ukrainian Army units who know what they need and know how to use them securely and effectively, and know what results they are getting from them. Some models are more useful than others for this, even from the same manufacturer like DJI. And this is an ever changing situation so we are constantly changing our drone selection based on what is requested. DJI is problematic, but some of their drones still have pros that far outweigh the cons in the hands of defenders who know what they are doing with them. Check out this Forbes article for a bit of background about that. We are sourcing other drones in addition to DJI though.
How do I know the drones will definitely go to defenders?
There are quite a large number of people behind this initiative both at Adopt A drone, Lift99 in Tallinn and Kyiv, and their network of contacts receiving both humanitarian and military aid. Everyone involved is donating money themselves. In fact, we are our own biggest donors. And all these people have oversight of how much money is being collected, what drones we are buying to stretch that money as far as possible, and who is expecting them. They are then handed over by Lift99 to the units directly who then send photos and videos from the frontline when they arrive. So we are confident that every cent raised will go to drones on the frontline.
What do I get in return?
The ability to make a small contribution to the territorial integrity of Ukraine, the end of Russia's genocide, and a better world. Plus a personalised certificate you can print out and frame with the name of your drone. The name of your drone is really just a sticker added to the box. We'll send you pictures of it leaving, but don't expect letters from it.
Why is your website a bit ugly?
It was put together in a rush. We're just getting set up but are focused on the mission to deliver drones and will improve the website when we have time later.
I'm still not convinced by this initiative.
No problem. There are huge numbers of ways to help so all that matters is that you find one that better suits you. We recommend either Come Back Alive, which was launched in 2014 and is the largest and most credible charity supporting the Ukrainian Armed Forces or United24, which was recently launched by the President of Ukraine to raise funds that will be allocated where needed among Ukrainian Ministries.
The current price of the drones we are sourcing is €2030 for the Mavic 3s and €8000 for a more advanced drone with night vision capabilities. This is slightly below the market price as we are working with pro-Ukraine suppliers. If you provide the whole amount, you can name it too. However, you can also make a smaller contribution to be pooled with others. We'll poll for those names in our Facebook group. You can pay as a company too, especially if you can claim back the VAT, but check with your accountant about how the tax would work. Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us when you are donating, how much, and the name of your drone (if you are paying for a whole one). Here's the details:
Account name: LIFT99 UKRAINE
Description: Adopt a drone
Bank name: TransferWise
IBAN: BE74 9672 6947 0107
Bank Address: Avenue Louise 54, Room S52 Brussels, 1050 Belgium
Ethereum (+ USDC, USDT, & DAI):
Direct to supplier:
Email us at email@example.com and we will connect you with the current supplier so they can invoice you.