May 18: An Historic Step in the Professionalization of the Field – The Founding Conference of Israel’s Association of Fundraising Professionals
by David Maeir-Epstein
Last year I wrote an article in eJewish Philanthropy announcing the founding of the Israel Association of Professional Fundraisers. In the interim, tens of professionals have been involved in subcommittees planning the founding conference, refining the Code of Ethics and developing a Bill of Donor’s Rights. These will be presented at the conference as a condition of membership along with proposing the first year’s work plan of programs and services, wrestling with the issue of professional certification and putting out an e-newsletter.
More than 3,000 people are on our mailing list. Over 400 have completed a detailed questionnaire indicating their intention to become formal members. We are expecting between 200-300 participants in the founding conference which will take place May 18th at Kfar Macabiah. Of the people on the mailing list, we estimate that over 1,000 are potential members. Interestingly enough, the founding conference features more speakers who are not from our field than those who are credentialed professionals. This stems from the need for us to not only make a public statement that we are a profession, but to implement the steps to establish public professional parameters be publicly giving legitimacy by objective and influential observers. Thus, the Honorable Dalia Dorner, former Supreme Court Judge, Prof. Asa Kasher, foremost expert in the field of Ethics, and Adv. Yaron Keider, former Registrar of Nonprofit Associations, will headline the conference. A panel will be held with foundation representatives including Orna Alsheich of the Glencore Fund and David Gappel of the Schusterman Foundation, philanthropists such as Yehudit Recanati, and Dubby Arbel the CEO of Midot, which is involved in the measurement, evaluation and standards of Israel’s nonprofits. The Vice President of the European Fundraising Association, Robert Kavalko, will represent the profession’s world stage and hopefully further open the doors to international cooperation.
Israeli society is undergoing dramatic changes in the social and economic spheres. Corporate and individual philanthropy and foundations are playing increasingly central roles in response to our need for Tikun Olam, making better both Israeli society and our world.
Nevertheless, generalizations and stereotypes toward fundraising and the non-profit field are still widespread. With new nonprofits being registered at the rate of 150 per month and the total number of active nonprofits in excess of 20,000 (there are over 30,000 registered but large numbers are inactive or defunct), there is no shortage of stories of questionable practices both in terms of fiscal responsibility and in terms of ethical behaviors.
The IAPF will have a significant impact on Israeli society. IAPF members will be committed to following the Code of Ethics. A system of Professional Certification will be put into effect enabling nonprofits an objective standard for assessment of professional training, experience and preparedness. The public will be better informed and more committed to supporting the nonprofit sector when it realizes that the field is committed to the highest standards of professional behavior. More information on funding sources and techniques will be shared and accessible to more nonprofits and the general public. We have received modest support for the conference from the Pratt Foundation and business sponsorships, but the bulk of the work until now has been undertaken by some 20 volunteer colleagues. Those who join will be asked to volunteer for one of the committees which will carry out the program during the coming year. While collecting yearly dues will provide some income (250 NIS or $75 per year has been proposed), there is no doubt that in order for the IAPF to have a significant impact on the field, it will need to raise funds from foundations, from businesses that relate to various aspects of our work, from an annual event, and from individuals who understand the important role that resource development professionals play in societal development. Thus, I have made a 1000 nis contribution (46 Aleph tax credited designated contributions can be made via Matan) and I call upon my colleagues in Israel and abroad to join me and support the development of the profession that is indeed holy work in the Holy Land. (U.S. contributions can be made via israeltoremet.org). For those of you in Israel on May 18th, I hope you’ll consider participating in this historic process.
Click here to see complete Conference program and registration information.
David Maeir-Epstein (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the CEO of a Jerusalem based consulting firm specializing in resource development for nonprofit organizations in Israel. He is among the founders of the Israel Association of Professional Fundraisers. Visut his website israelgrants.com.