COVID-19 and Israel Philanthropy

Geoffrey —  March 18, 2020

Due to the current COVID-19 crisis we ask that you EMAIL (rather than call) with any questions or concerns. We also expect significant delays in the processing of incoming check donations since the New York office is temporarily closed. For larger sums, please e-mail us for wire transfer information. Alternatively, please visit the website of the organization you wish to support to see if they take tax deductible credit card donations. We appreciate your patience and hope you and your families stay well.

We are pleased to provide the following suggestions adopted with permission from Maya Natan, Director of the Jewish Funders Network Israel.

The spread of the COVID-19 has drastically affected the entire world. For the Israeli philanthropic community, the past few weeks and those that lie ahead are especially challenging because, with Israel yet to form a permanent government, nonprofits have been unable to rely on government funding.

The challenges Israeli social organizations are facing during this period are on several fronts:

  • Meeting the needs of their target populations, particularly emergency needs, new needs and rapid response.
  • Complying with public health guidelines that are forcing them to stop certain activities, even as they must continue to pay salaries and other fixed costs.
  • The likelihood of government cuts, risk of donors failing to meet commitments, economic crisis on the horizon and great uncertainty will make it very difficult to raise funds.

The coronavirus epidemic comes after an ongoing period with no legislated government budget, which increases the challenges and raises the uncertainty that social organizations in Israel are facing. 

During these times, please consider the following:

1. Contact the organizations you support in order to understand the implications of the current situation, in terms of both organizational resilience and the well-being of target populations they serve in an effort to preserve all existing obligations.

2. Contact colleagues in your philanthropic community to consult and think together on effective ways to adapt your activity and to remain in touch at this time.

3. Consider making your 2020 donations sooner rather than later, so that cash-flow problems do not force any organizations to shut their doors.

4. Consider converting project donations to general operating support for organizations and discuss the best way to use the donation to stabilize the organization.

5. If necessary, help organizations set up the systems and technology that will enable them to continue doing their work and serving their target populations remotely.

6. Consider reducing grant reporting requirements as much as possible to ease the burden placed on staff resources at this time.

7. In organizations where bridge loan financing may be relevant, ensure that the organization can actually take on such debt and that it is able to repay it.

8. Encourage organizations with whom you work to contact the Israeli Civilian Leadership Association Situation Room to receive updates and remain connected to the larger nonprofit community at this time. (Telegram Channel Link here.)

9. Encourage organizations you support to consult with similar organizations in their field and explore opportunities for collaboration to leverage resources and optimize efforts.