How Reli3f Raised Over $1 Million For Ukraine in 30 Seconds Selling NFTs

Hannah Scherwatzky / ONE37pm

In the midst of geopolitical turmoil, 37 NFT artists banded together to create a humanitarian initiative in a joint effort. 

As Vladimir Putin declared a “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, the human cost of a modern global conflict was displayed in full array.

In response to Russia’s invasion, the region saw unprecedented levels of economic sanctions, choking up the financial institutions. As a result, the question of how the public could provide financial aid to those in desperate need was left open. 

A web3 community recognized an unconventional solution — crowdfunding through NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain. 

The community of over 37 artists and NFT leaders formed RELI3F, a web3 initiative consisting of NFT leaders to provide global humanitarian aid. Within 30 seconds of the initial launch, the project sold out earning over a million dollars.

To this date, the NFT collection has now crossed over 620 ETH (​​$1,702,676.44 USD) in trading volume, with 100% of its primary sales going towards the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

The Birth of RELI3F

Influential NFT community builder Andrew Wang woke up to the atrocities unfolding in Ukraine as Russian airstrikes bombarded Ukrainian cities, marking the beginning of the Russian invasion. 

Terrified and shocked, soon turning into conviction and resolve, Wang was determined to take action in the best way he knew how — bringing people together.

Compelled by Wang’s tweet, members of Wang’s network responded within seconds, offering their commitment to the humanitarian effort. 

Fully recognizing the magnitude of this effort, Wang knew this mission had to be handled with utmost diligence.

There was a key moment where an influential NFT figure, Giovanni who co-founded NFT project Smilesssvrs offered his contribution and in turn, the brainstorming process amongst the NFT thought leaders began. 

Entrepreneur, activist, and social impact consultant, Satvik Sethi is also one of the co-founders for RELI3F who brought together Andrew and Gio after seeing Andrew’s initial tweet.

Additionally, SignorCrypto who's a developer extraordinaire was excited to put together, the project’s official website, as well as our smart contract, and undertook all technical work.

The group envisioned raising funds through NFTs as an innovative way to help those in unimaginable circumstances. 

“That was all we needed to get started,” Wang said. 

This is how RELI3F was born. The collective consists of 37 influential NFT artists who combined compassion with their expertise including Danny Cole, Vinnie Hager, Sartoshi, Super Gremplin, Hawkward, Ravi Vora, Arial Jade, and more.

“If web3 empowers artists,” Wang said, “we can unite artists, lead with art, and make an impact.” 

Since then, influential artists such as WithHearts, Sarah Script, Clon, and others volunteered to the cause — asking nothing in return. 

“The NFT community is filled with innovative and passionate individuals. This is the time to call on them,” Wang said, “And since blockchain technology enables all transactions to be transparent, the public can be assured that the funds are actually going to the people of Ukraine.”

In being part of the project, Wang commented, “many of the artists featured have collections with a 1 ETH floor or higher, meaning many people are priced out,” Wang said, referring to the 0.05 ETH price for each of the 37 pieces. “With this collection, you can help the situation in Ukraine and purchase art that would be above the average price range for casual NFT collectors.” 

Whether through word of mouth, or seeing different artists expressing their desire to help, the wave of empathy continued to flood NFT Twitter.

Spotlighting Ukrainian Artists

The group decided to allocate 10% royalty on secondary sales, with all of the artists having the option of opting in or out of those royalties. 

“We did that because there are artists on our roster that are not only from Ukraine but are in Ukraine right now,” Wang said. “We wanted to give back to artists who could really use the royalties.”

One Ukrainian artist featured in the RELI3F collection is Julia Beliaeva — her piece in the collection is titled, “The Last Human Mother And Baby.”

The piece depicts a mother in dense jungle vegetation, watching over her infant son, with birds of prey watching from the trees. In this powerful illustration, Beliaeva imagines what will remain of humankind if “reason loses the battle to primeval aggression.” 

“Julia is especially meaningful to our team, she is in Ukraine with her son right now, hiding,” Wang said. “Julia is an artist and a mother and we are grateful she partnered with us, even in such times.”

Another artist leading the charge, inspired by his sentimental ties to Ukraine is Ukrainian photographer and urban climber, Vitaliy Raskalov. His piece, “South Bridge,” is part of a collection of photographs taken during his residence in Kyiv in 2011.

“I could not even imagine that in the future I would witness how enemy troops invaded my country,” Raskalov said. “Stay strong, Ukraine.”

How the funds will be distributed

On February 27th, RELI3F donated half of the funds ($485,000) to 4 different Ukrainian non-profits. Below is a breakdown of how they will be allocated.

Members of the RELI3F team have been liaising with Ukrainian government officials and non-profit organizations to decide on where the remaining funds should be allocated to.

Aleksandra Artamonovskaja is one of the members who joined the group to help tirelessly by coordinating with local officials and community members in Ukraine to identify Ukrainian organizations and to donate to.

“Whether it’s helping those on the ground, giving to hospitals, donating to those fleeing the country; we promise to keep the process transparent for the public.” Wang said, “We are carefully considering distribution options that will be swift and effective.”

Checking the Validity and Credibility of a DAO/Charity

Whether it is RELI3F, Ukraine DAO, or other projects that are aiming to support Ukraine, it is important to ensure your donations are received by those who are truly in need. 

Many scammers are taking advantage of this tragedy as an opportunity for financial gain. With that in mind, many entities that may appear to be legitimate charity organizations can be a front for fraudulent operations. 

Use etherscan to verify the project’s contract. The blockchain is transparent so users are able to track where the money has been and where it’s going.

Do your research. Put your trust in communities you know and people you trust however, always verify by doing your due diligence. 

“We’re putting our reputations on the line, we know who cares and who supports the cause,” Wang said. 

Wang hopes this will cause a ripple effect in the NFT community and demonstrate how powerful web3 crowdfunding can be. 

“I have faith that the people inside the NFT community and ecosystem can see that a fervor for art and collecting can turn into doing good, very quickly.”

To learn more, make sure to follow RELI3F on Twitter, check out the NFTs on Opensea, and view RELI3F’s contract on Etherscan.

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