SHATIL Mobilizes Response to Financial Crisis

30 December 2008 By New Israel Fund

As part of NIF/SHATIL's efforts to minimize the impact of the global financial crisis on Israeli social change efforts, SHATIL Director Rachel Liel met with the director general of the Finance Ministry last week along with Ran Melamed, associate director of NIF grantee Yedid, the Association for Community Empowerment. SHATIL and Yedid are partnering in an effort to advocate for government policies assisting an ailing NGO sector. In this and other meetings with government officials (including NIF Israel Executive Director Eliezer Yaari and Melamed addressing the Knesset Finance Committee ,), SHATIL and Yedid are advocating for special emergency measures such as tax breaks for NGOs, the provision of bridging grants, policies to encourage philanthropy, and other steps to provide a safety net for the sector. Forty additional NGOs are partners in this effort.

Since the trend toward privatization in the 1990's, NGOs have been providing for many of the needs of the most vulnerable population groups in Israel.  If those NGOs were to collapse, these citizens, including new immigrants, the disabled, Arab Israelis and others, would lose vital programs and services.

"Aside from its unique and unparalleled contributions to Israeli society, civil society is also a big employer in Israel, providing jobs for at least 250,000 people," said Liel. "Just as the government is planning a safety net for businesses, it has a responsibility to do so for NGOs as well."

 Cover of the SHATIL booklet, Raising Funds from the Community

SHATIL presented the government with a policy paper outlining steps the government should be taking to assist civil society which includes detailed analysis and costs.

On another front, SHATIL is providing valuable guidance to our partners in the field through a task force specifically created to target capacity building to the needs of NGOs trying to survive the crisis.

With the understanding that it may be years before the economy recovers, SHATIL is now placing greater emphasis in consulting and training for NGOs on fundraising within the community through membership programs, direct mail, special events and income generating projects. Earlier this year, SHATIL published a guidebook entitled "Raising Funds in the Community," which elaborates on each of these areas of potential fundraising. Additionally, Emily Gantz McKay, world renowned expert on NGOs, long time friend of SHATIL and director of Mosaica in Washington DC, is working with SHATIL for two weeks, lending her expertise to Israeli NGOs to help them weather the crisis.

SHATIL is staying in close touch with nervous NGO staff and lay leaders through a series meetings designed to continuously assess their current needs.

SHATIL, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, MATAN (the Israeli United Way) and the Israeli Civic Leadership Association are also collaborating on an Internet hotline that will make experts available to answer organizations' pressing questions as they relate to the crisis.