The Azrieli family will give $100 million in philanthropic and charitable funds over the next three to five years, matching the sum total of their giving in the past 23 years in a fraction the time.
“We’re at a threshold, we’re at a turning point,” Naomi Azrieli told the Jerusalem Post Thursday in an interview alongside her sisters Danna who serves as Vice Chairman of the Azrieli Group, and Sharon in Tel Aviv. The three direct the family’s giving.
The numbers refer to the combined giving of the family’s twin foundations, based in Israel and Canada, corporate giving and personal giving.
According to Forbes Magazine, the sisters’ father David Azrieli, 91, and his family are worth $3.1 billion, earning them a rank of 520 in the magazine's 2014 billionaire’s list. The name is most closely associated with the iconic Azrieli towers, in the shape of a circle, square, and triangle, in downtown Tel Aviv.
A large part of the family’s giving is directed toward educational causes. On Tuesday, the Azrieli foundation announced a NIS 21 million donation to the Technion, for a Tel Aviv campus.
The coming wave of giving is due to a determination on the part of the family that they can spend the money effectively, but also due to the availability of funds, particulars of charity law in Canada requiring a certain amount of giving.
That means there are big decisions to be made in the coming years on how to best focus their efforts.
“I think we’re a very young foundation and have not yet decided where our focuses will be in the future,” said Sharon.
“But there will always be a focus on education,” Naomi quickly added.
The foundations have built a program called Empowerment program to work with at-risk youth, invested in early childhood education, funded fellowships and scholarships, among other things.
“It’s an extremely broad range,” said Naomi.
An analysis the family did on its giving found that of the $100 million in combined donations it has doled out over the past 23 years, 63% went directly to Israel, while the rest went to causes in Canada, many of them with a Jewish sensibility.
The Canadian part of the foundation, for example, records and publishes Holocaust survivor’s memoirs, and makes the available for educators.
Danna Azrieli wrote one of the first memoirs they published, an account of her father’s survival.
The full interview with the Azrieli sisters will appear in the special Jerusalem Post conference magazine.