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Let's Talk About Money!


Hi! I'm Katerina, ENGin's founder and CEO. I've created this page to help you understand why and how we raise money in our community and beyond. Finances and fundraising are complex topics, but I've done my best to be totally transparent with you. I highly value your trust and understanding, and I want you to feel100% comfortable supporting ENGin - whether as a volunteer, a donor, or by spreading the word about the program.


If there is anything else you'd like to know after reading this page, please email me directly at 


Why does ENGin need money? How much does it cost to run the program? 

If you're an ENGin participant, you've experienced the joy, support, and learning opportunities that our volunteer-student connections bring. But you may not realize how much hard work goes into making those connections! A small, dedicated team of staff members is responsible for tasks such as:

- Spreading the word about the program in Ukraine

- Recruiting a volunteer for every student

- Interviewing, training, and matching new applicants

- Answering participant questions (hundreds of emails/week)

- Preparing resources for students and volunteers (including curriculum, mentors, events, etc.)

- Certifying volunteer hours for thousands of volunteers 

- Communicating important information and new opportunities

- Building the online platform and database that the program is run on 

- Administering programs such as our ambassador program, chapters, and clubs. 

- Securing resources to keep the program going

- Addressing every complaint, problem and controversy and providing extra support where needed :)


ENGin serves over 25,000 participants on a $650,000 annual budget. We are incredibly cost-efficient -- other nonprofits working at this scale have multimillion dollar budgets.


Approximately $610,000 of our budget is staff salaries for approximately 25 paid team members. The remaining $40,000 is technology costs and administrative expenses (such as servers that host our platform, volunteer recruitment advertisements on the VolunteerMatch website, etc)

How do you determine appropriate salaries for employees?

We base salaries on market conditions - i.e. how much we need to pay to attract qualified candidates for any given position. From an ethical perspective, we also want to make sure we are not exploiting our hardworking team. 

Most team members' salaries are at the low end of market ranges and we currently don't offer benefits like health insurance or retirement plans. In both the US and Ukraine, attracting and retaining qualified people remains a challenge for us as we compete with larger nonprofits and companies paying higher salaries.

Here are our pay ranges for staff members:

US Staff  

Tier 1    $50/hour

Tier 2    $30-35/hour

Tier 3    $20-22/hour   

Ukrainian Staff    

Tier 1    $10-13/hour

Tier 2    $5-7/hour

Tier 3    $3-4/hour

Why do you need paid staff? Why not volunteers? I know other nonprofits that are volunteer-run.  

By definition, volunteers can only contribute a few hours each week. Volunteer teams may be feasible for small programs supporting a few dozen or a few hundred individuals, as well as projects that focus on collecting aid (where the team is not running a program at all). Even in these cases, organizations or projects often shut down when volunteer leaders become overwhelmed or move on. The vast majority of nonprofits running programs actually rely on paid employees, with volunteers playing a supporting role.

We've always relied on our amazing volunteers for tasks that can be divided into smaller, flexible pieces among many people, each working a few hours/weekBut unfortunately, most ENGin tasks require a much bigger time commitment (30+ hours/week) and/or specialized skills. And, even for projects where volunteers can help, we need staff who will find them, train them, oversee and support their work, and replace them when they move on (usually within 1-3 months). 

We are very careful with our funding, always trying to rely on volunteers when possible and hiring staff members only when absolutely necessary. 

Your budget seems to have grown a lot over the past few years. What's going on?

Our budget has grown a lot because ENGin has grown a lot! When we started, we were a tiny project with the capacity to match a few hundred people at most, offering no training, resources, curriculum, or support. We soon saw that tens of thousands of young people in Ukraine wanted our help, and transformed into an organization that could effectively serve this increased demand. 

We are very careful about using our money efficiently, adding to our budget only when needed. As just one example, let's talk about our technology costs:

Just months after starting ENGin, we were already struggling to keep up with manually processing applications (submitted via Google forms). While this option was free, there were just too many people to keep track of and we kept making mistakes, leaving students and volunteers stuck for months or matching incorrectly. After ensuring that no existing software would meet our needs, we began building our own. 

We tried to engage a volunteer team of developers, but no one had the skills or time to complete the project. Then, we hired one student developer. After some time, we saw that he was overwhelmed by the amount of work and hired several other junior developers to help. Without senior-level expertise, the project kept getting stuck, so we hired a part-time, then a full-time experienced team lead. This allowed us to launch our platform, which is essential to processing applications and managing the program. 

We take this iterative approach in all areas of our work, which is how we are able to keep our budget at a fraction of what other nonprofits spend to do similar work.

Where do you get funding for the program? 


An individual donor learned about us shortly after launch and provided seed funding to scale the program. Initially, this funding covered all of our costs. This extremely generous investment gave us the breathing room to build a strong program and demonstrate impact before trying to fundraise on our own.

After this initial period, our founding donor began gradually decreasing his support, requiring us to secure a growing portion of our budget on our own. Here is how much we have to raise:


2022: $150,000

2023: $300,000

2024: $450,000

2025: $600,000 

Last year, when we started fundraising, I tried every possible option (individual, foundation, corporate, and government donors), but learned that these are either not a fit for ENGin or largely out of reach without personal connections. The majority of our funds have come from or through ENGin volunteers. 

Have you tried applying for grants from foundations, or running Facebook ads, or reaching out to the US-Ukrainian community, or talking to the US or Ukrainian government, or talking to companies in Ukraine and the US, or asking a celebrity to be your ambassador, or...?

Yes, we have tried all these things and many more! I continue to knock on every possible door to seek out funding. Unfortunately, there just aren't opportunities available. 

I've spoken to over 20 fundraising professionals who have confirmed that we're not missing anything - there just aren't natural sources of funding out there for a program like ours without personal connections. 

Are ENGin students a source of funding for you?

We currently ask students to donate to ENGin, and offer optional participation certificates for purchase, but this brings in only a couple thousand dollars per year. This is why we plan to institute a one-time application fee for students in 2024 (at a level that is be affordable for most Ukrainians and with fee waivers for select groups of students). We anticipate this move to bring in around $80,000 at best, so we will still need to rely on donations for the majority of our budget.

Ok, that was a lot. So, what do you want from me?

We think that ENGin's future should be determined by the quality of our work, not whether we know the "right" people. With the support of our community, we know we can keep our program going. If you believe in our mission, here's how you can help:

I am still not convinced, and I think you could do better. 


One important thing I've learned in this CEO gig is that things always look a lot easier from the outside! Until I did the hard work of building this program, exploring every possible source of funding, and facing an ocean of rejection and criticism, I might not have believed myself either! 

I invite you to contact me with any further doubts and questions. I also invite you to try fundraising for ENGin yourself - after all, sometimes the best way to understand is by doing!

Thank you for supporting ENGin! 

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