New gov’t Web site hopes to make NGOs more transparent

GuideStar Israel will provide detailed financial and managerial information on some 30,000 charities, non-governmental organizations and social rights groups.

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August 4, 2010 04:23
2 minute read.
JUSTICE MINISTER Yaakov Neeman (right) launches the GuideStar Web site at a Jerusalem press conferen

GuideStar launch 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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An online database and interactive community aimed at making Israeli nonprofit organizations more transparent was launched in Jerusalem on Tuesday by the Justice Ministry together with Yad Hanadiv – the local arm of the Rothschild Foundation – the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and NPTech, a public benefit company that helps nonprofits develop their online presence.

GuideStar Israel (www.guidestar.org.il) will provide detailed financial and managerial information on some 30,000 charities, non-governmental organizations and social rights groups registered with the Justice Ministry’s Israeli Cooperation Authority (ICA) Nonprofit Division. The initiative follows in the footsteps of similar GuideStar Web sites in the US and the UK.

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“There are many charities operating in Israel today and for any nonprofit, transparency should be the most important thing,” commented Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, minutes before he pressed the Web site’s “live” button. “This Web site will allow donors to see where their money is going, give those who want to volunteer the opportunity and will provide the public with important information.”

The portal, which is in Hebrew, Arabic and English, includes information that until now could only be accessed by a physical visit to the ICA offices in Jerusalem and after paying a nominal fee.

“This service will now be free and is open to the public,” explained Justice Ministry Director- General Dr. Guy Rotkoff. “Any charity that is not registered on this Web site does not officially exist.”

Dr. Nissan Limor, chairman of NPTech, which is to operate the service, said that Israel is now the third country in the world – after the US and UK – to adopt this program and that it would be a gateway for a large number of smaller NGOs to have a presence on the Internet.

He pointed out that roughly 40 percent of the 30,000 registered nonprofits in Israel do not have Web sites, but on GuideStar they can build a public page of information that would be accessible to potential funders, volunteers and the public.



Information on GuideStar will be kept up-to-date based on information submitted to the ICA. Charities will also be able to add their own photos and explanations of their work and online links to activities.

Avital Shriber, deputy head of the ICA’s Nonprofit Division said, however, that the interactive site would not necessarily be able to verify all the information provided by the NGOs, which are obligated by law to be as transparent as possible.

She did, however, point out that the Web site was still a work in progress and that throughout the course of the coming year more information would be uploaded, including details on salaries earned by NGO top executives and other pertinent data.

Shriber added that the law would continue to honor the right of donors to remain anonymous.

“We will have that information but we will not post it on the site,” she said.

Royi Biller, director of NPTech, told the Post that the Web site’s search engine would allow individuals to search for non-profits based on key words and categories. It will also allow charities to learn about each other, he said.

Biller added that while the basic information on the charities would always be provided in Hebrew and Arabic, Israel’s two official languages, non-profits that operate in other languages would be able to add information in those, too.

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