Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Israel’s Third Sector is No Third Wheel

March 8, 2012 11:42 am 0 comments

Binyan Hamosadot Haleumiyim, Rehavia, Jerusalem. Photo: Neta.

My business partner recently returned to the U.S. after five years of living and working in Israel. Yesterday she sent me the following e-mail:

“I am shocked and dismayed by the state of affairs within the U.S. Jewish community. In my 15 years as a fundraiser, I have never before encountered the challenges that now plague the non-profit world.  Every phone call I make, every community I approach, the response is always the same: ‘Now is not a good time.  We are struggling to support our school and synagogue.'”

This sentiment is all too familiar to those working with or for a non-profit organization in Israel. Add to this the fact that Jewish Federations and private foundations are now distributing the funds they collect from within their Jewish communities almost exclusively to local projects, increased scrutiny non-profits are facing from donors in Israel and abroad, recent scandals in funds management, and you have a fundraising crisis in Israel’s third sector.

So, what can Israel’s Amutot (non-profits) do to sustain themselves?

As I see it, the non-profit community must make three major adjustments in order to take charge of their own destiny.

  • Israeli non-profits must make a commitment to excellence, overhauling all programming that doesn’t measure up.  At the same time, each organization must work on re-branding itself by focusing on that which makes it truly unique.
  • The community as a whole must raise the level of professionalism.  If organizations are run like businesses, with a mind toward sustainability and growth, and if they take themselves seriously, they will be treated accordingly by others.
  • Finally, all of Israel’s non-profit organizations must band together and demand their rightful place beside the business and government sectors. Simply put, the third sector cannot survive if it is always seen as a third wheel.

Ironically, but not surprisingly, much of the work ahead focuses on a change in perspective on the part of the non-profit organizations themselves. The onus is on Israel’s Amutot to take what they already know – that they are vital to the health and success of our society – and stand by that truth and own its value.

Non-profits are constantly under fire to spend less, earn less, and do more with less, all while maintaining their commitment to the “cause.”  It is a recipe for failure and a source of constant angst and consternation among the hardworking employees and volunteers of countless Amutot across the country.

Non-profit organizations must view each other as colleagues and collaborators, rather than rivals and usurpers (even at the cost of acknowledging that certain programs are more capably covered by other organizations).  They must always put their best foot forward, and work diligently to build their public images and expand their professional networks.

And those in the driver’s seat must stop taking the easy way out, and start paying professionals to do professional work.

Most importantly, non-profits must always be willing to learn and broaden their base of professional knowledge.  Like businessmen, they must keep track of the trends in their field, including the available tools and demands from their investors, and always look out for their customers’ best interests.

If non-profits remain complacent and are content with their roles as society’s custodians, slogging through the social refuse and picking up after the government and business sectors, they will be pegged as such forever.

Only the third sector can move the third sector forward.  Once they recognize and own their true worth, others will recognize it as well, and opportunities across the world of Jewish philanthropy will present themselves accordingly.

Shoshanna Jaskoll is the co-producer of AMUTA21C (www.amuta21c.com), an annual summit focused on bringing together Israel’s non-profit and business professionals in an effort to create connections, showcase opportunities, and raise operational standards across the third sector.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Music Coldplay Begins Concert With Broadcast of Charlie Chaplin’s Iconic Speech in ‘The Great Dictator’

    Coldplay Begins Concert With Broadcast of Charlie Chaplin’s Iconic Speech in ‘The Great Dictator’

    British rock band Coldplay started its set at the Glastonburg Festival on Sunday by broadcasting excerpts of the iconic speech Charlie Chaplin delivered in The Great Dictator, the 1940 political satire in which the famous filmmaker/movie star played a Jewish barber. “I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone,” Chaplin begins his address. “I should like to help everyone, if possible, Jew, Gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Two Decades Before Cleveland’s First NBA Title, LeBron James Walked Onto a JCC Court

    Two Decades Before Cleveland’s First NBA Title, LeBron James Walked Onto a JCC Court

    JNS.org – The seed for the city of Cleveland’s first professional championship in a major sport in 52 years may have been planted at the Shaw Jewish Community Center on White Pond Drive in Akron, Ohio, nearly 20 years ago. That’s when a tall, lanky kid from Akron named LeBron James walked onto the hardwood court and changed the game of basketball forever. Coach Keith Dambrot, now the head basketball coach at the University of Akron, conducted those sessions that attracted […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs North American Studios Look to Israel for Next Animation Hit

    North American Studios Look to Israel for Next Animation Hit

    JNS.org – In 2008, Yoram Honig was a producer and director living in Jerusalem, fresh off his first international hit, when the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA) came to him with a challenge: build a film industry from scratch in Israel’s capital. “When we started here, was nothing in Jerusalem,” he said during an interview in his office in the Talbiya neighborhood. Now, the Jerusalem Film and Television Fund, which Honig heads as an arm of the JDA, pumps 9 million shekels […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas to Wear Leotard With Hebrew Letters in National Competition

    Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas to Wear Leotard With Hebrew Letters in National Competition

    Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas will wear a leotard bearing Hebrew lettering when she competes at the P&G Gymnastics Championships over the weekend. Douglas’ Swarovski-outlined outfit will feature the Hebrew word “Elohim,” meaning God, on its left sleeve. The Hebrew detailing honors the athlete’s “rich heritage of faith,” according to apparel manufacturer GK Elite, which produced the leotard and released a preview of it on Wednesday. The company said Douglas’ sister, Joyelle “Joy” Douglas, created the Hebrew design. The outcome of the P&G Championships will help […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports British World Heavyweight Champion Should Be Banned From Boxing for Sounding Like Hitler, Says Ukrainian Competitor

    British World Heavyweight Champion Should Be Banned From Boxing for Sounding Like Hitler, Says Ukrainian Competitor

    Britain’s world heavyweight champion, Taylor Fury, should be banned from boxing for making Nazi-like comments, a former world champion from the Ukraine said on Thursday, ahead of their upcoming match. “I was in shock at his statements about women, the gay community, and when he got to the Jewish people, he sounded like Hitler,” Wladimir Klitschko told British media, according to Reuters. “We cannot have a champion like that. Either he needs to be shut up or shut down in the ring, or […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Rabbi Shows Cooking Skills and Humor on Chopped

    Rabbi Shows Cooking Skills and Humor on Chopped

    Rabbi Hanoch Hecht just made television history; but, unfortunately, he couldn’t have his rugelach and eat it too. Hecht became the first rabbi to compete on the hit show “Chopped,” where contestants are forced to use four random ingredients in their recipes, and have 20-30 minutes to create an appetizer, a main course and a dessert. A contestant is eliminated after each round. Hecht, 32, said that while the dishes and utensils were new, the kitchen was not kosher, so he couldn’t taste […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Music Orthodox Entertainer Stars in Pepsi Max Commercial as New Face of Company’s Israel Campaign (VIDEO)

    Orthodox Entertainer Stars in Pepsi Max Commercial as New Face of Company’s Israel Campaign (VIDEO)

    Orthodox singer and entertainer Lipa Schmeltzer is starring in a new Pepsi Max commercial for the company’s campaign in Israel. The commercial begins with a bunch of Jewish men eating at a restaurant, when Schmeltzer walks in and tries to decide what to order. An employee at the obviously Israeli eatery offers him a variety of foods, but the entertainer in the end decides on a bottle of Pepsi. Everyone in the restaurant then joins him, drinking Pepsi Max and dancing to […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Book Reviews Jewish Author’s ‘Messy’ Draft Transforms Into Rock Star Novel on Amazon

    Jewish Author’s ‘Messy’ Draft Transforms Into Rock Star Novel on Amazon

    JNS.org – “Writing is a messy process,” says author Elizabeth Poliner. “People who don’t write fiction would be surprised to see what early drafts could look like.” But readers wouldn’t know “what a mess it was for the longest time,” as the Jewish author puts it, when reading Poliner’s critically acclaimed latest book, As Close to Us as Breathing. The volume garnered Amazon’s “Best Book” designation in March 2016 as well as rave reviews from the New York Times,W Magazine, NPR, […]

    Read more →