2011 Marks Banner Year for Online Donation to Israeli Organizations

by Abigail Pickus

When it comes to supporting Israeli-based nonprofits and charities, more people are turning to the Internet to make their donations.

According to IsraelGives, a provider of online donation solutions for nonprofits in Israel, 2011 was a watershed year for online donations to Israeli-based organizations.

An analysis of the 853 Israeli organizations using IsraelGives for online fundraising in 2011 shows a 273% increase compared to the amount raised online in 2010. From January 1 through December 31, 2011, nonprofit organizations used IsraelGives to raise $2.3 million online (8.2 million NIS) with IsraelGives processing over 33,000 donations, a rise of 400% over 2010.

The number of organizations using IsraelGives for fundraising rose from 588 organizations in 2010 to 853 in 2011, a year that saw a substantial rise in online donations made by Israelis (510%) and to Israel from abroad (240%).

“More nonprofit organizations are seeing the value of the Internet and using it as a resource for marketing and fundraising,” said Yonatan Ben-Dor, the Canadian-born founder and director of IsraelGives. “At the same time, the Israeli micro-donor is increasingly raising his voice and opening his wallet – and using the internet as the means for their philanthropy”.

According to IsraelGives, the average online donation size in Israel in 2011 was $68 (243 NIS). However, the average online donation of a donor located outside of Israel ($138) was three times the size of the average Israeli donation ($44), leading to the conclusion that while Israelis are donating online more than ever before, the average donation size is still small compared to abroad.

Ben-Dor attributes this to a maturation process for online donation, with the American public more accustomed to online donation than Israelis.

“Israelis are still at the beginning of the road. As the online market for giving grows so, too, will the average and donation size,” he said.

Interestingly, because it is easier to give smaller sums online – but also possible to contribute large sums – the recession has not impacted the online giving market in the same way as it has other mediums of giving.

“Small sums of money are still available even during the economic downturn,” said Ben-Dor. “Giving is a very empowering experience for the donor with the donor purchasing the feeling that he is impacting his society. That is why we can consistently rely on those small donations. At the same time, many large donations get cut in size during recession – and become sums more reasonable to donate online”.

IsraelGives found that the most popular months for online giving in Israel were September, December and August. “The high holidays and the end of the tax-year are always major donating periods in Israel,” said Ben-Dor. “What was most unexpected was the large numbers of donations made over the month of August, during the Israeli social protests, three times as many donations as the previous year.”

These summertime donations were made by Israelis – not foreigners.

“There is not as much awareness outside of Israel of what was happening throughout the country,” said Ben-Dor. “In Israel, there was definitely a wake-up call not only of the importance of social change, but of the organizations that are out there working in these areas. There was a feeling among the public, which we hadn’t felt in a long time, that they have the power to create change. Online donation was a mechanism for creating that change by partnering with nonprofit organizations that are implementing or promoting that change. “

This marks a new kind of relationship between the Israeli public and Israel-based nonprofit organizations.

“This is something very new in Israel because nonprofits in Israel have not historically looked at the public as a financial partner, while the public itself has never viewed a small donation as a tool for social change. If the trend keeps up, and the public uses giving as a means of creating social change, we can expect exponential rises in micro-giving in Israel in 2012, and especially online donating”, said Ben-Dor.

In terms of the distribution of donations among organizations, 40% went to welfare and social service organizations, 24% to professional associations like public sector unions, 10% to social and political change organizations, and single digits to other types of organizations. “This isn’t necessarily because of public preferences, but rather the hard work of organizations in those sectors”, said Ben-Dor. “Nonprofits that invest in building an online community and driving them to donate online are the most successful fundraisers. The main reason that people give is that someone has asked them to. More and more, Israeli organizations are making that ask online”.