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Israel's non-profit sector got a welcome boost this month when the only fully-bilingual donation portal formally launched operations, aiming to raise money for some 26,000 registered charities here.
IsraelGives.org, which is run in tandem with Hebrew-language Web site IsraelToremet.org, allows users here and around the world to learn about and donate to any of Israel's non-profit organizations. It also enables organizations to gain financial independence from large donors by opening access to online micro-donations from rank-and-file Israelis and supporters of Israel around the world.
"Our main goal is to show the positive side of Israel," Yonatan Ben-Dor, Founder of IsraelGives, told The Jerusalem Post Thursday. "The site provides information on every non-profit here and also provides charities a chance to showcase their work. The world needs to know about the hundreds of thousands of people and non-profit organizations working to make Israel a better place. It's a side of this country that has been hidden for too long."
IsraelGives is not the first donation portal. Jgooders.com was launched a year ago to allow English-speakers worldwide to contribute to Israel. Ben-Dor said that his portal is uniquely bi-lingual and is free for non-profits to join. It also allows organizations to collect tax-exempt donations in both Israeli shekels and U.S. dollars.
"We have three social collaborators [financial supporters]," said Ben-Dor, adding that they preferred to remain anonymous at this point. "And part of our income comes from the two-and-a-half percent service fee for every donation made."
Since beginning its online work just under a year ago as a pilot site, IsraelGives has already raised a total of some $400,000 for Israel's third sector - roughly $30,000 a month, Ben-Dor estimates. Now that the Web site is official, however, he hopes it will collect more for the struggling sector.
In addition to raising funds for non-profits, Ben-Dor said he hopes IsraelGives will democratize Israeli philanthropy and encourage transparency among charities, which are ranked higher on the site as they submit more information about themselves.
Organizations can use the site to send regular updates to their supporters and can share information on projects and activities, upload official documents, photos, videos and news, and post volunteer opportunities.
For donors, IsraelGives allows them to purchase gift certificates redeemable as donations to any non-profit organization in Israel, create "charity registries" for events and post their donating activity on Facebook and Twitter.
"Through IsraelGives.org every person in Israel or around the world can play a part in the development of the country and make a difference in the lives of millions of Israelis," said Ben-Dor.