NIF and SHATIL have presented a national plan to assist Israel’s NGOs and social change organizations in the wake of the global economic crisis. According to Eran Klein, Budgetary Director of SHATIL, who drew up the plan together with Yedid: the Association for Community Empowerment, Israel’s NGOs have 250,000 employees and annual revenues in excess of $2 billion. Allowing the sector to shrink and lose effectiveness now, at the time of greatest need, must not happen.
Klein said: “We view with concern the sharp decline in donations reaching NGOs. We have shown the plan to ministers, MKs and senior civil servants and many social change organizations, and have received encouraging feedback."
“An active, vital civil society is the foundation stone of a democratic society," he notes, "and it is a duty to assist these organizations during a time of crisis. Government help is not a substitute for comprehensive efforts by NGOs to become more efficient, but it is crucial in preventing their collapse and reducing the damage to the needy and the services they receive from these activities.”
The plan calls for the establishment of a $60 million emergency fund by the Israeli government to award grants and bridging loans to organizations facing difficulties. The plan also calls on the government to help NGOs as part of its fight to combat unemployment. The plan’s specific proposals include:
- Reducing the 7.5 percent employee salary tax, imposed uniquely on NGOs, to 4 percent.
- Allowing NGOs to offset VAT (sales tax) from their expenditure, as is policy in the business sector.
- Increasing the tax benefit ceiling for donors from the current NIS 4 million to NIS 10 million.
- Increasing government support for NGOs by 25 percent in 2009.
- Lowering municipal taxes for NGOs.
- Preferential treatment for NGOs in being awarded government service contracts.
Please click here to read the full plan.