• It has been a very long time since my last post, not because there hasn’t been what to say, but more because my efforts have been focused elsewhere.

    As the year draws to a close I would like to share with you a few reflections.

    Almost every week, I learn about another Israeli non-profit doing wonderful work that was previously unknown to me.  This week it was Yashar LaChanyal, Navah, and Tasukati.  Last week it was Giyar Zera Yisrael and the week before that it was Magen Lacholeh.  Each and every one of these organizations is impressive.  Israeli’s are unbelievably creative, caring, and motivated to help others.  However each of these organizations is still struggling to find funding.

    Israel’s philanthropic culture continues to evolve.  This past summer witnessed a huge outpouring by Israelis wanting to help both those evacuated from the south, as well as Defense Forces serving in the area.  My son recently shared with me that their unit received so much toothpaste that I will not need to buy him any for many months to come.

    Yet, most organizations are trying to raise local funds for causes that, although very important, simply lack the sense of urgency of a military operation.

    The fundraising efforts of these organizations are creative and range from holding events to offering courses to the public, to producing goods that are sold, to telemarketing, to you name it.  But what is shared by most of these efforts, is that local fundraising is often not easy and that the tremendous effort invested often leads to minimal results.  One of the reasons for this seems to be a lack of synergy.  Many successful campaigns rely on multiple volunteers who pursue multiple avenues simultaneously.  And of course as Dan Pallota makes clear, it often takes money to make money.

    Many organizations find themselves in a catch 22 – while relying on foreign donors is clearly not a good way to proceed, local fundraising is often very difficult.

    Some organizations have created an interesting balance: they provide services to the government and to other organizations (i.e. self-generated income), they pursue foreign and local donors both private donors and foundations, they pursue government funding where and when available, and yes, they do charge for their services.  Let’s not kid ourselves – this multi-pronged approach really is a balancing act which can be time consuming, worrying, and fragile.

    Not complicated enough? One of the things that makes this process even more difficult, is the lack in Israel of professionally trained fundraisers.  One of the other things that happens to me on an almost weekly basis is that I receive a phone call or an email asking me to recommend someone to raise money.  Not only are good fundraisers few and far between, but most of the time fundraisers’ balancing act calls for a combination of different talents that is very difficult to find in one person.  There is a similar conundrum for writers: it is definitely not a simple task to find people who understand nonprofit programming, who are good writers, and who understand how to “make the case”.  Now, if a writer also knows how to build a budget – that is certainly a huge plus. Oh, and let’s not forget, writing for some funders is complex, very demanding and requires honed research abilities as well!

    No one said it was going to be easy.

    Wishing everyone a happy and peaceful new year.

     

    Originally published on January 1, 2015, The Times of Israel

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