NGOs receive gov’t funding for work in social sector

Ten nonprofit organizations operating in the fields of education, health, immigration and social welfare became the first recipients on Monday of a new government fund to support the struggling third sector, with some of them receiving between NIS 1 million and NIS 7m.
The five organizations that received the largest sums were health and welfare organization Ezer Mizion; Yad Sarah, which provides assistance to the elderly and the disabled; Eshel, the association for the planning and development of services for the aged; Elem, for children and youth at risk; and Akim, for people with disabilities.
“These funds will allow nonprofit organizations to continue providing a wide range of services in the fields of welfare, education, health and immigration to help thousands of Israeli citizens,” said Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog in a speech to representatives of the organizations gathered at the ministry on Monday.
“The establishment of this fund is thanks to the efforts of the government and following our first meeting more than a year ago,” continued Herzog, before handing out checks to the various organizations.
Roughly 600 nonprofits applied last summer for some NIS 66m. in funding from the government. Of those, a committee made up of representatives from the welfare, health, education and immigrant absorption ministries selected 191 NGOs to receive funding. The majority of the organizations will be granted up to half a million shekels, with 16 slated to receive up to NIS 1m. and 17 up to NIS 7m.
“We really appreciate this initiative, and it obviously helps us,” commented David Rothner, spokesman for Yad Sarah, saying that his organization had received NIS 6m. “However, it does not solve all our problems. We are still in a situation where we are in need of help and looking for additional sources of income.”
According to Rothner and many other organizations, donations to thenonprofit sector in the wake of the global economic crisis have fallenby some 20-25 percent in the last year-and-a-half, with the demand forsocial services increasing as more people fall below the poverty line.
Even with this financial injection from the government, many nonprofitorganizations are still struggling to survive. One of their maincontentions is that charities in Israel get few tax breaks and mustwork with very low overheads in order to operate successfully.
There are close to 30,000 registered charities in Israel today,although only about 10,000 of them are active, according to figuresfrom the Israel Civic Leadership Association.