(photo credit: )
A few days ago, for the first time ever, the
Ministry of Welfare and Social Services made public the amount of
shekels it contributes to Israel's third sector.
the announcement of the NIS 1.5 billion its spends on outsourcing
projects to local non-profits was not newsworthy enough to make big
headlines, the willingness of a government office to share information
on the charity industry was a welcome change for a sector that is
growing increasingly secretive about its inner workings.
In an attempt to encourage local media to publish this data,
ministry officials pointed out that non-profits are very quick to cry
poverty and bemoan a drop in their fund-raising but often very slow to
acknowledge those who do support their activities.
Among the organizations listed as receiving large sums from the
government for various social welfare projects were the Women's
International Zionist Organization (WIZO); the Israeli Society for
Autistic Children, Alut; Emunah, the national-religious women's
organization; and Akim, the association for the rehabilitation of the
Obviously non-profit organizations freely publicize
the outstanding charitable work they undertake and are rightly happy to
talk about the positive aspects of their activities. Most are fairly
pushy with their fund-raising methods; a minority have even been known
to employ questionable or unethical tactics to entice donors.
Of course, running such charities and fund-raising for them is
not easy. Over the years it has become something of an art, requiring
real expertise. Without such work, the charities simply would not be
able to finance their essential activities.
the past year it has become increasingly clear that many non-profits -
both big and small - are struggling financially due to the economic
crisis. It is no secret either that all types of charities are being
forced to make difficult choices about the scope of their programming
and being pushed into making structural changes to their projects and
While full disclosure about charities' heartwarming activities
is obviously beneficial, so too is transparency and full disclosure,
and not just messages of woe and pleas for help, about fund-raising.
While not wanting to admit that your organization
is hurting financially is understandable, for fear of undermining
confidence and out of concern that your backers will jump ship,
contrastingly "public relations 101" dictates that openness is crucial
in order to keep your supporters... supportive. Cutbacks and new
directions taken by non-profit organizations should be thoroughly
discussed with donors, and openly detailed in the press. The truth will
out, and far better that it be the accurate account that the
organization can disseminate rather than partial and distorted
revelation via the online rumor mill.
AT A conference in California earlier this month, Facebook
founder Mark Zuckerberg asserted, not without justification, that the
increase in use of social media means that privacy is no longer a
"People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more
information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people,"
he said. "That social norm is just something that has evolved over
With individuals indeed opening up their private dealings and
publishing them for all to see, it is high-time that charities,
especially those whose outreach relies on and touches thousands of
people, realize that maintaining traditional secrecies may not prove
One development that might force a change in the near future is
the creation of the online portal GuideStar Israel
(www.guidestar.org.il). A joint initiative by the Ministry of Justice,
Yad Hanadiv (the Rothschild Foundation) and the American Jewish Joint
Distribution Committee-Israel, GuideStar, which is not yet active, aims
eventually to provide a forum for all non-profits in Israel to list
their activities and share information, as well as reach out to donors.
It is a free service that we hope will highlight how being
transparent and sharing information, far from being damaging to an
organization, could actually be beneficial for all.