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

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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