WhatsApp founder secretly donates to organizations that help Ukrainians

Jan Koum, a Ukrainian-born Jew and WhatsApp founder, has quietly donated tens of millions of dollars to help Ukrainians. In particular, he finances some humanitarian programs aimed at supporting Ukraine and its migrants in Europe, Jewish Telegraphic Agency writes.

  • According to Jan Koum’s tax returns for the period from 2019 to 2020, the Koum Family Foundation donated about $17 million to the European Jewish Association. In March 2022, it launched a campaign to provide housing, food, and clothing to refugees from the war. Nearly all the group’s 2019 budget came from Koum. 
  • Koum’s foundation is also connected with another group involved in relief efforts: the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS. It got $10.6 million from Koum’s foundation in gifts over that same period and, at the end of May 2022, announced the establishment of an ambulance fleet to evacuate patients throughout Ukraine.
  • It is unknown whether Koum continued to make donations in 2021 and afterward. His foundation and all the past grantees have ignored requests for comment from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. JTA contacted more than a dozen of the nonprofits, several of which said they were prohibited from publicly acknowledging Koum’s giving as a condition of their gift. 
  • Koum’s tax returns reveal that he, with a fortune estimated between $9.8 billion and $13.7 billion, has quietly become one of the largest donors to Jewish causes in the world. Only from 2019 to 2020, his foundation gave nearly $140 million to about 70 Jewish charities working in the United States, Eastern Europe and Israel.

Jan Koum was raised on the outskirts of Kyiv in the town Fastiv, which was hardly shelled by Russian occupants early in the current war. Koum moved to the USA in 1992. In 2009 together with Brian Acton they launched WhatsApp. In five years, the messenger was bought by Facebook for $22 billion.