According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, 860,000 people in Israel have been forced to reduce their food consumption due to the Covid-19 crisis. This number includes senior citizens, children, individuals suffering from major illnesses, and others. Luckily, in these difficult times, when so many families are experiencing serious financial hardship, others are opening their hearts and wallets, helping those in need. In fact, since the outbreak of the pandemic, donations in Israel have increased by 240%!
There are so many ways to donate. But how can you be sure that your entire donation reaches those in need? Oren Dobronsky, a successful serial entrepreneur, famous for appearing on Israel’s version of “Shark Tank,” decided to create an initiative that would directly support those most desperately in need. “For years, I searched for the most direct way to donate to families in dire financial situations, whose basic needs were not being met. I always turned up empty-handed, so I decided to start a new initiative that would embrace Israeli society and directly support families facing crisis, one that would go directly towards ensuring that no one in Israel goes to sleep hungry,” Dobronsky explains.
Together with Yariv Davidovich, his long-time partner in high-tech ventures and the co-founder of ClearGiving, Dobronsky gathered other entrepreneurs and high-tech executives from different industries who were equally eager to make a true social impact in Israel. They decided to make the process of giving to those in need more efficient through technology, and, essentially, reinvent the way people to give charity.
These brilliant minds from the world of high-tech established a direct, transparent platform which simplifies and shortens the donation process, while reducing costs and resources. Now, the giving process has become much more accessible to donors, enabling them to give in a safe and direct manner, knowing exactly who will receive their donation and for what purpose. The NGO operates like a start-up, placing the principles of transparency and efficiency front and center, in accordance with the Lean Start-Up methodology.
The entrepreneurs established a website, ClearGiving.com, through which donations can be made directly. This website has a “catalogue,” introducing the specific families in acute need of financial help. Included are brief descriptions of the circumstances that caused each family to find themselves in such desperate situations. Mostly, they are normal, hard-working people, grappling with more than their fair share of bad luck. The website also includes pictures of their homes, many of which are quite appalling – dilapidated and lacking basic furnishings.
Each story is more heartbreaking and tragic than the next, and the natural instinct is to want to help all of them and make their lives less challenging. The families are labeled according to a range of categories, such as single-parent families, families dealing with serious health problems, victims of domestic violence, etc. But of course, no identifying details are given (such as names or place of residence).
Donors simply choose the family they want to help and select the amount of money they would like to donate on a monthly basis, up to $200 per month. Donors can choose one or more families and support each one as much as they want. Donations are specifically earmarked for the food needs of each family. This is because without the most basic of all needs – nourishing, healthy food – people cannot even begin to work their way out of this desperate cycle of poverty. And the most important part is this: 100% of the donation goes directly to the families in need!
The sound of despair
Welfare Departments throughout Israel are overwhelmed with requests from extreme cases, including hundreds of thousands of children who are forced to go to sleep hungry every night. “I found this to be quite shocking,” recalls Dobronsky, “so my friends and I went to visit some of these homes. What we found were empty refrigerators, silent homes where the only sound was that of despair.”
Together with welfare professionals, Dobronsky and his team set strict criteria for evaluating families to determine which ones would be supported by the ClearGiving platform. The families that qualify are those whose income is significantly below the poverty line. Hundreds of families in desperate need are on a waiting list, praying that they will soon be included in the project.
In Israel, there are thousands of wonderful non-profits, all trying to do good. However, the Registrar of Associations limits the amount they can spend on overhead – management expenses and general expenses. These expenses include salaries, rent, office expenses and more, which can add up to large amounts. At ClearGiving, these operational costs are covered by separate donations from individuals who want to change the paradigm of philanthropic giving in Israel.
Two cases, out of many
The families of Noam and Sarah (not their real names) are just two among the dozens listed on the ClearGiving website who rely on the generosity of kind people, helping them meet their most basic needs, which includes feeding their children.
When Noam developed a rare skin disease, he promised his family he would continue running his business as usual, despite his condition. However, the disease became worse and Noam, who had always supported his family, became bedridden. His wife continued to work nine hours a day in an especially demanding job, in addition to taking care of him and their three children.
A year ago, Noam’s wife had a breakdown. The combination of his illness, the collapsed business, and her breakdown transformed this once-normal family into one in extreme distress. Prior to his illness, Noam would not have been able to comprehend how there could be children in Israel without food in their refrigerator. He may have even given money to help others. Unfortunately, today he is on the other side of the fence; his family lives from hand to mouth, worrying about food, in addition to coping with horrible physical and mental agony. For Noam’s family, the help they receive from ClearGiving donors makes all the difference in the world.
Sarah is a single mother with four children. Her husband abandoned her years ago and takes no interest in his children. She receives meager alimony payments through Social Security. A year ago, Sarah was diagnosed with liver cancer, and she is undergoing difficult treatments, which haven't been working. She has already written a will for her close family, asking them to continue caring for her kids after her death. In the midst of this tragic situation, as Sarah looks death in the eyes, ClearGiving is there, feeding her children and giving her strength. With the support of ClearGiving’s donors, Sarah is not alone.
Giving that is clear
ClearGiving’s innovative platform for direct donations is based on the following principles:
- 100% transparency
- Donors select the families they want to help
- Donors decide how much they want to give to each family
- The entire donation is transferred to the family in the form of vouchers for buying food
- The NGO only accepts families referred by Welfare Departments
- The NGO visits every family’s home and conducts additional evaluations to ascertain their financial situation
- The donations are tax-deductible
- The donations are monthly donations, supporting families for the long-term