By Maya Natan and the JFN-Israel Team
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.
While flight restrictions and quarantines do not permit us to be in close physical proximity, please know that we, at JFN Israel are here to help you navigate your giving in Israel as best as possible.
During these times, we, encourage all funders of Israeli nonprofits to do the following:
- Contact each of 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.
- Contact colleagues in our philanthropic community to consult and think together on effective ways to adapt your activity and to remain in touch at this time.
- As much as feasible, make your 2020 donations sooner rather than later, so that cash-flow problems do not force any organizations to shut their doors
- If possible, consider converting project donations to general operating support for organizations and discuss the best way to use the donation to stabilize the organization.
- 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.
- Reduce grant reporting requirements as much as possible to ease the burden placed on staff resources at this time.
- In organizations where bridge loan financing may be relevant, ensure that the organization can actually take on such debt and that is able to repay it.
- Encourage organizations with whom you work to contact the Israeli Civic Leadership Association (Civic Leadership) Situation Room to receive updates and remain connected to the larger nonprofit community at this time. (Telegram Channel Link here.)
- Encourage organizations you support to consult with similar organizations in their field and explore opportunities for collaboration to leverage resources and optimize efforts.
We understand the oversight of your projects and grants in Israel is even more challenging in times like this. We are happy to help connect you to Israeli funders who are involved with the same organizations and causes you support, so that you can lean on their abilities to follow up on the ground. We can also connect you with other connecting funders active in your fields of interest to leverage and collaborate your efforts.
We are just a phone call (972-9-953-3889) or email ([email protected]) away and are available for any questions.
We would be happy to assist you in thinking about the best way to deal with the challenges that the current situation has on your philanthropic endeavors in Israel.
Please know that we are participating in the Prime Minister Office roundtable (a forum that allows sharing of relevant information among the public, business and social sectors in Israel), and in the coming weeks we will try to gather as much relevant information as possible to be able to keep you posted as to how the social sector in Israel responding to the crisis.
Hoping for healthy days.
Maya Natan is JFN-Israel Director.