The coronavirus has highlighted the limitations of government management, demanding we find new ways of dealing with the social and economic disparities that characterize Israeli society. Cultural differences and economic inequalities have deepened. In order to overcome this crisis, we must find solutions that are both nuanced and compassionate.
The need to decentralize power and leadership has also become abundantly clear. Our current challenges touch upon almost all aspects of our lives, from education and public health to economic growth and social cohesion. In order to respond appropriately and effectively, we need to put more power in the hands of professionals who deal with these problems on a daily basis. We should give more responsibility to the professionals who manage our social, educational and economic platforms.
In a post-COVID world, this will be impossible without cross-sector partnerships. Creating alliances between government, business and the social sector will allow us to approach problems holistically while facilitating solutions that are wide-ranging yet practical.
Philanthropy can help us forge such partnerships by connecting government, industry and social organizations. Government ministries understand the macro needs of the economy and society, and can outline policy. Non-governmental organizations bring their experience in the field and their focus on diverse social issues to the table. The business sector has the management skills and entrepreneurial tools required to respond to problems and deliver solutions.
Philanthropy can facilitate and enhance the dialogue between government, local authorities, civic organizations and business entrepreneurs, while providing the financial “breathing room” required in order to establish partnerships and develop trust between sectors.
Our school system is a valuable example of how cross-sector partnerships can create opportunities for growth. The pandemic has placed our schools in a constant state of uncertainty that demands real-time innovation; schools have been charged with creating a “new normal” that answers the complex needs of students and teachers while also abiding by pandemic regulations.
The Education Ministry is facing enormous challenges, even as it tries to identify future opportunities in light of changing conditions. However, it is nearly impossible for the ministry to create “one-size fits all” solutions. That’s because needs differ, often greatly, from school to school. Disparities between schools and communities mean that different schools react to changes in very different ways based upon the local environment and culture.
Many of the innovative solutions we see in schools come from the field. Principals and educational staff work with researchers and innovators, all of whom receive support from professional and social organizations. Many principals receive support from social organizations that are, in turn, aided by the business community, which enhances their capabilities. Enabling healthy partnerships between schools, NGOs, professionals, government ministries and local authorities would enhance multidisciplinary development among school staff, as well as improving the ability of the local and governmental authorities to support them. The impact of this combination of forces is much greater than the sum of its parts.
Foundations and philanthropists have the advantage of a holistic outlook that can identify the players who can influence and respond to social needs. These players are the professionals on the ground who intimately understand the day-to-day realities. Integrating these professionals into government discourse and creating partnerships between them can ensure that potential solutions include a strategic view of current and future needs.
In times of turmoil and uncertainty, lasting change cannot take place without partnership and trust between the private, public and social sectors. Philanthropists have the unique know-how to create such partnerships, and it is important to leverage and integrate them into Israeli socioeconomic policy. The Israeli government must encourage and create opportunities for such partnerships. Only then can we all grow from the current crisis.
The writer is CEO of the Beracha Foundation and chair of the Forum of Foundations in Israel.