Rise, Knight of the Nonprofit Round-Table

“The Office of the Prime Minister invites nonprofit organizations, companies from the business sector that donate to the public or the third sector, and businessmen that work in the fields of philanthropy, to apply for participation in the roundtable.”

No, King Arthur hasn’t been reborn nor are we in Camelot. Heck, we’re not even in Kansas.  What this is, though, is a serious attempt by the Israel Government and a number of foundations that operate in Israel to increase the cooperation, strength, and transparency of Israel’s nonprofit sector. Continue reading

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The Great Balancing Act: Public Offical or Social Innovator

For years we have been witnessing charitable institutions hiring business executives in order to increase fundraising or professionalize the organization.  I remember the big news when the President of Columbia University, George Rupp, accepted the presidency of the International Relief Committee in 2002.  Some of us alumni were bewildered by the move — leaving the private sector for the public sector, unheard of!?!?  However, what seemed like an isolated incident then, was actually indicative of many nonprofit organizations.

But is the reverse true?  Are the corporate and public sectors luring away nonprofit executives in the hope of improving their social standing and/or activities? Continue reading

Updated Nihul Takin Released for Testing

I was greeted by a wonderful surprise on the Zavit Shalosh website when I returned on Monday from a very nice vacation in the United States (hence the hiatus).  There, one of their main articles, related that the Rasham Ha’amutot [Israel’s Registrar of Charities] released an updated version of the Nihul Takin on the Rasham’s website.  Furthermore, the Rasham has invited all interested parties to email comments until September 30th. Continue reading

Can my Israeli Nonprofit have a Credit Card?

The Answer

The answer should hopefully be “yes,” nonprofit organizations can use credit cards.  Credit cards have become an integral part of running any kind of business; whether it be a not-for-profit or a for-profit corporation.   Credit cards are safer than cash and are the preferred method of payment when shopping on the internet.  Not to mention, the ease of an itemized monthly billing statement.  Nonprofit governing agencies should love credit cards and promote their use whenever possible.

But, alas, in Israel the answer is no…kind of.  Cryptic, but true. That is to say that in my experience as a banker, I have both ordered credit cards for charities that wanted them and canceled credit cards for charities that were told it was “illegal” to have them. Continue reading

The New Jersey Scandal, Pt. 2: The Israel Fallout

Even before the dust settles in the States, Israel and her charities will already start to feel the effects from last week’s scandal.

First, we can expect that donors’ skepticism of Israeli charities will increase, which is understandable. The current proliferation of nonprofits already casts doubt on their authenticity: Israeli charity-representatives hound communities weekly; American Friend organizations exist in abundance; internet and email advertisements appear on every Jewish website broadcasting Israel’s fight for its physical and spiritual survival. In short, this scandal has cast a shadow on a situation already wrought with suspicion, doubt, and misconception.

Second, we can expect the relationship that exists between Israeli amutot [nonprofits] and money changers to come under fire. Charities need their donation-checks to clear as soon as possible. As opposed to banks, “cash houses,” or money changers, can exchange cash for checks (for a one to two percent fee) with a wait time of zero to two days. Thus, Israeli charities regularly deposit large sums of cash received from money changers into their bank accounts. Continue reading

Guidestar Arrives in Israel (and is looking for volunteers)

The website “Zavit Shalosh” [The Third Perspective] posted on their site yesterday (in Hebrew) that Guidestar has officially come to Israel.  Currently, the Guidestar site is in its pilot stage and is inviting Israeli amutot [nonprofits] to participate.

guidestar_logo

For those that are unfamiliar, Guidestar markets itself as providing “trusted nonprofit information” so interested parties can make “informed decisions” (quotes from the Guidestar site).  The Guidestar website does this by posting organizations’ financial documents.  For United States charities this means that the site posts the IRS’s 990 form — going back to about 2005 for some organizations.  (To date, Guidestar has had the financials for every organization that I have searched for.)   Started in the United States, Guidestar has been slowly entering additional international nonprofit markets. Continue reading