02.02.2023 - Ukraine

Stopify – a simple, creative idea leads to €200,000 in aid for the Ukrainian Army

Just three months after Stopify launched, more than 5500 people from 45 countries have subscribed to the donation platform developed in support of Ukraine. Together, they have raised more than €200,000, and the first aid has reached the frontline.

Soldiers of the 72nd Mechanised Brigade in eastern Ukraine received quad bikes, thermal visors, night vision monocles, tactical gloves, goggles and a drone. The latest shipment just went to The Carpathian Sich 49th Infantry Battalion and included a pickup truck, quad bike, diesel generators, drones, tactical gear and more.

Three friends join forces

At the outbreak of war in Ukraine, there was a lot of anxiety in society. But even more, an incredible unity to help. Eventually, reports from the front line have become the backdrop to everyday events. And, compared to the first months of the conflict, people’s resources and enthusiasm to donate have noticeably diminished. But the war continues.

Three communication experts and good friends – Māris Upenieks, Mārcis Miķelsons-Germs, and Miks Miķelsons – realised that they could not stay on the sidelines as passive consumers of the news. In their spare time, they started working on Stopify – a unique streaming service for donations to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. After a couple of months of voluntary work, Stopify finally saw the light of day. The platform will stay active until the war ends with Ukraine’s victory or a peace agreement is signed on Ukrainian terms.

“The thought came to me while thinking about how we could awaken an interest in donating again. And then I got the “Aha!” moment. It’s widespread to subscribe to various streaming services to watch TV shows for the price of a cup or two of coffee. What if we could “subscribe” to a much more essential “convenience” — the opportunity to live in a free and democratic Europe? So, we put this metaphor at the heart of our service – it resembles your typical streaming platform visually, but instead of choosing a movie, our users can learn about the needs of the Ukrainian army and decide to support them,” shares Māris Upenieks, the author of the idea and the most visible promoter of Stopify.

In his day-to-day, Māris works with major Latvian communication agencies and his own clients as an independent creative director.

Advanced security measures, design and user experience

Miks Miķelsons and Mārcis Miķelsons-Germs are co-founders of the Latvian digital agency Cube. Miks worked on his first IT project – a name generator for the family puppy – at the age of 10. Today, faced with the new reality of war, Miks says: “In Stopify, we paid a lot of attention to the security aspect – both the transparency, simplicity, and reliability of payments and the protection against potential cyber-attacks. We have also integrated the well-known global payment system Stripe, which ensures that donations are received seamlessly from any country.”

Mārcis adds that the design and user experience are also noteworthy. “We concentrated on the content and ease of use – so that people can read and find out information about the donation goals, choose the amount of support, and create their subscription with literally a few clicks. To achieve this, we carried out various user tests, listened to people’s feedback, and, in some places, thoroughly revised our initial ideas of what the event should look like. We also saw that the visual metaphor of a streaming service helps the message spread on social networks. All in all, considering that this is a zero-budget project, the result is very respectable,” he comments.

Helped regain faith in humanity

When talking about Stopify, all three friends are succinct. “When we launched the platform, it seemed that most of the work was already done, but it turned out to be the opposite. It was the beginning of many late nights and weekends of experimenting and thinking of ideas to attract new subscribers and, consequently, get more support for Ukraine. Our growth is organic, without any advertising budget, so we are grateful to every media outlet and platform that hears us and helps us get Stopify out there for free. We must admit that we’ve regained faith in humanity – all the major digital screen operators supported us, helping us to get exposure even in the neighbouring capitals, Vilnius and Tallinn. Media, language translators, influencers, and other communication specialists also helped. Without them, none of this would have been possible.”

Supported by Embassy of Ukraine and Latvia’s largest charity organisation
Stopify is a fresh take on a charity initiative – a subscription service that lets you “stream” a monthly donation to help the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The platform operates on a monthly subscription basis: users select one of three plans (starting from €6.99), which can be changed or cancelled at any time. Donations go to the special Stopify fund run by the project partner, Ziedot.lv, Latvia’s largest charity organisation. The funds go towards purchasing equipment and other needs, about which the Embassy of Ukraine in Latvia provides information. The funds are not used to purchase arms and ammunition.

Source: Press release (labsoflatvia.com). Photo by Mārtiņš Strazdiņš: Māris Upenieks and Mārcis Miķelsons-Germs.

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