n Instagram influencer has called on people to donate to Ukrainians by booking Airbnb rentals in the country, saying doing so will benefit Ukrainians directly.
Tommy Marcus, 26, from New York, runs the Quentin Quarantino page on social media, set up in 2020.
Speaking to the PA news agency, Mr Marcus said the idea had originally come from one of his followers on social media.
He added that followers have now received messages of gratitude from Ukrainians who have received bookings via Airbnb.
He told PA: “I certainly did not foresee it going so viral… so many of my followers have told me ‘I got this message (of gratitude from a Ukrainian) and then immediately started crying’.
“And that’s maybe not something that happens when you give 20 dollars (£15) to charity. That’s not to say that that money doesn’t go as far when you give it to a charity, but there’s definitely that emotional element that’s unique about this, which I think is probably a very big driving factor and why it was so viral.”
He warned, however, that people should check the Airbnb listing before booking to ensure they know who would receive the money.
“The the main thing that was shared when this first started to go viral was to make sure that it was an individual person, rather than a company who might own a bunch of flats across the city… also seeing that they have a history, they have reviews.”
Mr Marcus also said that donations via Airbnb should not replace supporting efforts from existing charities.
“This is just another really nice thing you can do. It’s going to make someone really happy and hopefully have an impact down there. But at the end of the day, you should also be giving money to charity, wherever you see fit.”
He is no stranger to fundraising campaigns. In 2021, his campaign raised seven million dollar (£5.3million) to help at-risk Afghans escape the Taliban takeover by paying for flights.
In September 2021, The Washington Post published a report saying that over three million dollars (£2.5million) had been spent on flights that were cancelled.
Mr Marcus said the “controversies” around the Afghanistan campaign were “tough on me, emotionally”, but said he wanted to continue to use his platform to help people.
A spokesperson for Airbnb told PA: “We are so humbled by the inspiring generosity of our community during this moment of crisis. Airbnb is temporarily waiving guest and host fees on bookings in Ukraine at this time.
“We also encourage anyone interested in getting involved with Airbnb to go to airbnb.org/help-ukraine, and support Airbnb’s initiative to provide housing to refugees fleeing Ukraine, by becoming a host or donating. To date, we have seen an overwhelming response to this effort, with more than 357,000 visitors to this page.”