Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

28 Kislev 5769 - December 25, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Israel's NGOs in Financial Trouble

By M. Green

Eighty-one percent of non-government organizations operating in Israel are facing financial difficulties, including 22 percent in serious trouble financially, according to a survey of 220 organizations released by the Center for Research of the Third Sector at Ben Gurion University in cooperation with the Civic Leadership Organization, an umbrella group for Israeli nonprofit organizations, and Shatil.

According to the survey data, 3,500 of Israel's 27,000 NGOs are in danger of closing. "Three blows landed on the third sector [i.e. non-government and nonprofit organizations] — a decline in the value of the dollar, the philanthropic crisis engendered by the economic crisis and the third blow was government inaction," said Dr. Yaron Sokolov, director of the Civic Leadership Organization, at the conference where the survey results were presented.

"The government has the ability and obligation to reduce the additional blows. So far, despite our requests to the Prime Minister and the Finance Ministry, almost nothing has been done. We are witnessing the same phenomenon we experienced during the Second Lebanon War when the government fell asleep on its watch and third-sector organizations were the first to help out. My feeling is that in the current situation of an economic emergency the government is dragging its feet. Every day we're seeing further blows landing on the sector, the most recent being the Madoff Affair, which was damaging to Israeli NGOs."

The survey shows about half of the organizations experienced reduced income in 2008 and 63 percent of NGOs anticipate decreased revenues in 2009 as well, while 34 percent think the decrease will be substantial. Although 58 percent reported that they are not yet considering closure, 13 percent are weighing it as an option. Seventy-four percent held the state should act to assist them.

"We're asking the government to recognize that many of the organizations provide basic services that make up for what the state stopped providing," said Sokolov. "The collapse of organizations would harm the scope of services and the weaker segments of the population."

The organizations attribute the current situation to a drop in donations (46 percent) and changes in the dollar exchange rate (47 percent), saying that increases in operating expenses (28 percent) and salary costs exacerbated the problem. According to the survey figures, 30 percent of organizations already cut programs in 2008, 22 percent postponed executing planned programs and 13 percent discontinued programs. Fifteen percent of social service organizations dismissed employees in 2008 and 20 percent are considering dismissals in 2009.


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