The Israel Free Loan Association (IFLA) has received a major donation from Trudy and Bob Gottesman of New York City. The Gottesmans granted $1 million to provide interest free loans to low income Israeli individuals and struggling small businesses. Mr. Gottesman is also publicly challenging other donors to match the donation in an effort to encourage others to assist the IFLA.

The contribution was made in response to the enormous success of the recent IFLA national radio ad campaign which depleted cash reserves and left the IFLA in a position in which it could not fulfill all loan requests. Monthly loan levels are at all time record levels with 600 new loans granted per month, well beyond monthly repayments.

IFLA Honorary Chairman Prof. Eliezer Jaffe warmly praised the donation. “This is really an astounding gift, especially in light of the difficult situation that many philanthropists face today. The Gottesmans have been major donors to the IFLA and their assistance has helped thousands of Israeli families escape poverty and rebuild their lives through our micro-lending program. We are extremely proud of the Gottesman’s partnership – not only for the funding, but also for the long-term vision and partnership behind it.”

Prof. Jaffe noted that donors, especially business people, like giving to the IFLA because they know their dollars will go further in providing assistance and bring immediate results. “Due to the constant recycling of loan repayments we can help thousands more people as time goes on. With conventional charity the influence of a donation decreases over time, but with interest free loans the influence increases over time as new loans are perpetually provided from the original donation. The IFLA is the world leader in Jewish micro-lending, which, unlike other micro-loan programs, does not take interest from borrowers.” Mr. Gottesman concurred, “The IFLA’s philanthropic model has been proven as a powerful way for charitable contributions to be re-used over and over again, as loans are made, repaid and lent over again. The default rate is practically nil. Thus a charitable contribution to IFLA is an annuity that is able to keep helping the working poor in Israel make ends meet”.

Mr. Gottesman also funded the IFLA’s first ever national advertising campaign, launched earlier this month, to inform the public at large of the availability of interest free loans for low income families and small businesses. Radio spots of 15 seconds each were broadcast on regional radio stations throughout Israel for twelve consecutive days. The campaign increased the number of applications to the IFLA by tenfold and helped significantly widen the variety, location and number of people receiving help from the IFLA.

Prof. Jaffe stressed that while the Gottesman donation will significantly boost the IFLA’s ability to aid Israelis, the organization is still very far from being able to help all those who need assistance. “Unfortunately we can only help a fraction of the people who need our help, abandoning many others to loan sharks and the black market for high interest loans which condemn them to an endless cycle of poverty.”

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