The Carmel Fire & Haiti: No Need to Reinvent the Wheel

"Fighting the fire in Israel's North, 3.12.10" by The Prime Minister of IsraelJews around the globe are mobilizing to donate to help fight the effects of the recent fire in Israel’s Carmel Forest.

One of the outcomes of the Haiti Earthquake (January 12, 2010) is an in-depth case study in disaster-relief giving. Hence, those donating to Carmel Fire relief efforts need not reinvent the wheel and can rely on the many lessons learned just 11 months ago.

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Money Musings: Why Local NPOs Should Fundraise Locally First

Welcome to the first of a new style of video posts, “Money Musings,” which will cover issues and challenges inspired by conversations with nonprofit professionals.

In this episode, I discuss 2 reasons why local nonprofit organizations should fundraise from their constituents first. While the video specifically describes a nonprofit operating in Israel, the principles are true for any charity in any country.

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Israeli Government Grants: The Broken Promised Land

"Behind Broken Glass" by HzopakObtaining government funding seems to be every nonprofit’s goal, at least in Israel. I have heard countless lecturers, founders, and foundation representatives preach the Darwinian virtues of incorporating government grants into an Israeli charity’s fundraising strategy; after all, the nonprofit is servicing the Israeli public. It is to the Government’s benefit – if not its outright duty – to ensure that this charity’s program continues to exist

Not bad on paper. In practice, however, these Israeli government grants can sometimes be more trouble than they are worth.

For the purpose of this post, as a banker I would like to restrict my focus on the budgetary challenges associated with these grants.  Specifically, the two disadvantages that arise because grant monies are dispersed only after expenses are incurred. Continue reading

The Real Reason Israelis Don’t Donate

There is debate raging in the United States about tax incentives and the Nonprofit Sector. The U.S. government, by allowing donations to be tax-deductible, is surrendering money “owed” to it for the sake of encouraging charity. Many believe that the two – the rate of deductions and the amount donated to charity – are directly linked. Any decrease in the rate of deductions will lead to a decrease in the aggregate amount of charity donated to nonprofit organizations.

A recent study in Israel advocates the same theory, claiming that Israel’s poor standing in charitable-giving is directly related to the Israeli Government’s comparatively lower tax-deductible incentives.

However, by placing the blame squarely on the Israeli Government – instead of sharing the burden with the nonprofit organizations operating in Israel – these researchers are causing the Israeli Nonprofit Sector to leave a huge well of potential-donors untapped. The charities in Israel are failing to engage would-be donors, and it is this lost opportunity that should really be addressed. Continue reading

4 Reasons Why NOT to Establish an “American Friends of” Organization

Israeli charities (amutot in Hebrew) rely on donations from overseas – no secret there.  Many foreign-based charities choose to create an American based nonprofit, more commonly referred to as a “Friends of” organization so donations can be tax-deductible vis-a-vis the American Federal Government. (In a previous post, I spoke about IRS trends when a “Friends of Organization” is applying for tax-exempt status.)

However, it could be that establishing a “Friends of” organization is not in your charity’s best interest. The following are some considerations that elaborate on:

Why not to establish a U.S. registered “Friends of” Organization to help fundraise? Continue reading

Are “American Friends of” Organizations a Thing of the Past?

International organizations have been highly successful in raising funds from the United States through U.S. based charities commonly referred to as “Friends of” organizations. These charities are registered in the States and have 501(c)3 tax-exempt status, allowing donations to these essentially foreign organizations to be tax-deductible.

As you can imagine, many charities registered outside of the United States consider an “American Friends of” organization as a vital part of their fundraising strategy.

Jewish causes, especially those based in Israel, are no exception to this rule. A recent report compiled by Dr. Nissan Limor estimated that foreign donations to Israeli charities from sources outside of Israel stood at 2.165 billion dollars in 2007, with much of that coming from the United States (although, he didn’t stipulate how much). There are about 1,000 new Israeli charities [amutot] created every year and it would hold that many of these organizations will seek to create an “American Friends of” supporting charity.

Hence, recent conversations I have had are causing me to worry. Continue reading

Do Nonprofits Deserve a Second Chance?

To the best of my knowledge, Judaism, Christianity and even plain-old, agnostic ethics advocates giving someone a second chance.  But is this true with nonprofit organizations? Does a charity that has made mistakes and lost our trust deserve our donations in the future?

This question was inspired by an article in CNN Money by Allan Chernoff entitled, “Is the American Cross Worthy of our Donations?Continue reading