According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, 31.7% of Israel’s population lives below the poverty line, including formerly middle-class families who have been hurt by Covid-19. Almost 1.1 million people were initially laid off as a direct result of the pandemic, with 375,700 still unemployed even after the lifting of almost all restrictions, among them disproportionately more women, single mothers and female breadwinners alike, now left unable to feed their children. With each new Covid-19 variant and the resulting wave of infection, many senior citizens and high-risk patients have also found themselves both isolated and hungry.
Luckily, even in these difficult times, kind-hearted individuals from across the globe continue to open their hearts and wallets to help those in need. Astoundingly, donations in Israel have noticeably increased by 240% since the onset of the pandemic.
With so many NPOs operating in Israel, one cannot help but wonder if children are truly going to bed hungry, and how one can give directly to those who need it most? Oren Dobronsky, a successful serial entrepreneur well-known for starring in Israel’s version of Shark Tank, looked for an existing NPO that enables the entirety of one’s donation to go directly to families in need, without getting lost on the middleman or deducting any other incurred costs. “For years, I searched for a way to donate directly to families in dire financial situations, to help children whose basic needs were not being met. After turning up empty-handed time and again, I decided to start a new initiative that would embrace Israeli society to directly support families in crisis, with the goal of ultimately ensuring that no one in Israel goes to sleep hungry,” Dobronsky explains.
Dobronsky tapped his long-time partner Yariv Davidovich, with whom he led many high-tech ventures, and together they founded ClearGiving. Within a short time they gathered additional entrepreneurs and high-tech executives from different industries – all of whom were equally eager to make a true social impact. Their NPO would operate like a start-up, placing the principles of transparency and efficiency front and center, in accordance with the Lean Start-Up methodology. By harnessing technology and Israel’s existing social services framework, the team succeeded in reducing operating costs to zero, subsequently reinventing the way people give charity.
While existing NPOs might allocate donations to a general cause or project only after deducting a sizable percentage, the ClearGiving platform allows donors to quickly and efficiently contribute the sums they want directly to the families of their choosing, in a safe and dignified manner. Each family in the ClearGiving database has been individually referred by their local Department of Social Services, and then independently and thoroughly verified by ClearGiving to ensure that all donations are distributed to those who need it most.
How it works
In cities throughout Israel, Departments of Welfare and Social Services are overwhelmed with appeals from families in extreme financial distress. But with many NPOs localizing their operations, social workers in countless cities across Israel are left empty-handed, leaving hundreds of thousands of children forced to go to sleep hungry every night.
“I found this to be quite shocking,” recalls Dobronsky. “When my partners and I went to visit some of these homes, what we found were empty refrigerators and a look of despair in the eyes of parents who don’t know where their children’s next meal will come from.”
Dobronsky and his team partnered with welfare professionals to create strict criteria by which they could verify and authenticate the eligibility of each individual family to qualify for the ClearGiving database, together with determining the optimal value of the monthly food vouchers provided (up to $200). This versatile model, which treads the fine balance between support and dependency, could be effectively implemented across the country.
The end result was a constantly growing database of verified families, with Departments of Welfare and Social Services in cities and municipalities throughout Israel referring eligible families to undergo ClearGiving’s independent verification process. Once approved, a brief description of each family’s struggle, coupled with real-life pictures from their homes, are uploaded to the online platform. Mostly, they are normative, hard-working people grappling with more than their fair share of bad luck.
On the ClearGiving platform, donors are able to choose among the hundreds of families, hear their unique stories, share their pain, and touch their hearts – all while retaining their dignity and privacy. The platform encourages multiple donors to collectively support any given family and provide them with up to $200 in monthly food vouchers, allowing donors to show their compassion with monthly donations that fit their budget. Since each family is independently verified, donors can be confident that their hard-earned money is making a lasting difference in the lives of real people, each with their own unique struggle.
Israel has been blessed with thousands of wonderful non-profits that engage in tikkun olam, the age-old Biblical model of solidarity that unites people across the globe. But despite the Registrar of Associations setting limits on the amount these organizations can spend on overhead – executive salaries, travel, cars, consultants, fundraising, advertising, rent, general salaries and other operational costs – these expenditures can easily add up to quite a sizeable sum, which is subsequently deducted from the donations they receive. In fact, overhead frequently accounts for up to 40% of NPOs’ annual income.
At ClearGiving, by harnessing technology and Israel’s existing social services framework, overhead costs are kept to a bare minimum, with all remaining operational costs generously paid for by designated donors who take great pride in changing the paradigm of philanthropic giving in Israel. With no overhead costs, 100% of every donation to ClearGiving.com is allocated entirely to families in need!
Two cases, out of many
Y.’s cancer diagnosis threatened to leave her 11 young children without a mother, or a father. While she fought for her life, Y.’s husband was torn between caring for his wife and the kids, and when the medical expenses left them in financial ruin, he was reduced to begging for handouts overseas. Y. battled cancer for years, valiantly fighting to live, anything just to be there for her kids. And while she ultimately survived her bout of cancer, she never truly recovered. Her ordeal left her very weak and virtually unable to care for the home, and then Covid-19 left them even more devastated. Shortly after testing positive, Y.’s husband was hospitalized in critical condition, sedated and mechanically ventilated for over a month. He too survived, but with both parents so weak and frail, the family lacked even basic food staples, clothing, and someone to care for them.
As for R.’s home, piles of boxes and a smell of mildew were what greeted the ClearGiving staff during their home visit. R., a single mother of five young children, shared her unbelievable story: Six years ago, they were thrown out onto the street, penniless, and left with no other choice but to move in with her elderly parents into their tiny apartment. She swiftly applied to become the government-funded caregiver for her aging father, and soon had a monthly income of NIS 3,500. The cramped apartment, its furniture salvaged from a dumpster and with boxes “from the good old days” piled high, is home to R., her five children and her elderly parents. The shelves in the fridge are bare except for a few almost-empty containers of leftovers – definitely not enough to feed eight people. Maybe R. will one day receive government housing, but until then, ClearGiving hopes to make sure she has enough to eat.
These are just two examples among many unfortunate families who would like nothing more than to be self-sufficient and get back on their feet. These families simply would not be able to put food on the table without the generosity of kind-hearted strangers.
ClearGiving’s innovative platform allowing direct donations is based on the following principles:
- 100% Financial Transparency: Tax-deductible donations that are allocated in their entirety to needy families.
- All of ClearGiving’s families must be individually referred by the Department of Welfare and Social Services.
- Each family undergoes an independent and thorough verification process.
- Donors are free to choose among the different families, and sponsor those whose struggles and stories strike closest to their heart.
- Donors decide how much to give, selecting the exact amount of the monthly donation for each of the families they sponsor.
- The families receive monthly food vouchers whose minimal value equals the sum of donations contributed on their behalf.
- ClearGiving offers each family the nutritional security that only continual financial support (monthly food vouchers) can provide.
For more information about ClearGiving and to help families in need, visit the website