Israeli Philanthropy in 2011: Which Way Does the Wind Blow?

from The Jerusalem Post:

The changing winds of Israeli philanthropy

Ahuva Yanai is not optimistic. The darkhaired woman who directs perhaps the most powerful entity in the country’s nonprofit sector shakes her head emphatically when asked whether this year will see some revitalization for the thousands of organizations dedicated to improving civil society.

“We are seeing a growth in Israel’s economy,” acknowledges Yanai, who has headed Matan – itself a nonprofit that advises corporations, individual donors and foundations where to invest their money in the third sector – since its inception 10 years ago. “However, at another glance we see that this progress is very sensitive and we know for a fact that philanthropy is always the last in line to recover from economic crisis.”

… “The third sector has been hit very hard,” says Yanai unequivocally. “Even just looking at the dollar exchange rate, which is 10 percent less than it was [before the recession], we can see that the charity world has received a severe blow. Despite reports of economic recovery, I don’t think we will see any significant changes for the NGO world here in 2011.”

She explains that the blow to the vibrant charity community is not specifically the dwindling donations but rather “the promise in the air that was completely destroyed at the end of 2008. The numbers [of donations] after the recession started were not dramatically less, but we began to move away from the optimism that was in the air. In 2007 and the beginning of 2008, we were flourishing, but by the end of the year, especially after the Madoff affair, that hope had evaporated.”