Israeli Corporations Don't Give to Charity

Most NGOs in Israel rely on the government, or overseas donors.

Israeli corporations give almost no donations to nonprofit organizations. Most donations to such groups come from overseas Jews and from Israeli households, says the Central Bureau of Statistics in its report on nonprofit organizations for the years 2009 to 2011.

The report, based on a sample of such organizations, shows the Israeli philanthropic sphere is not very well developed, and organizations and charities base themselves mostly on funds from government ministries and local authorities to pay for their activities.

Claims have been voiced recently that Israeli corporations and the rich have reduced the size of their donations for social causes, following the criticism that arose after the social protests of the summer of 2011 - but the figures refute this. The scope of such donations rose a bit in 2011, and have been similar to the levels before - even though the amounts were low before and after the protests.

The statistics bureau’s Comprehensive Survey of Private Giving in Israel was conducted in cooperation with the Committed to Give initiative, which “was founded for and works towards the encouragement of significant private philanthropy among affluent Israelis.” The initiative is also supported by the Yad HaNadiv Foundation.

The survey examined the revenues of 408 nonprofits with income of over 500,000 shekels ($143,000) a year, and which are a representative sample of such Israeli organizations.

Businessman Shuki Ehrlich, chairman of the Committed to Give initiative, said supporters were very encouraged by the level of private giving in Israel, but disappointed by the scope of corporate donations, which was smaller than the group had thought.

Activist: ‘Business can give much more’

“For years leading business people have come and said that companies do not do enough. Even though in the United States the level of giving by corporations in even lower, when we look at the great needs in Israel and the level of donations by households, there is a feeling that Israeli businesses can do much more. We feel those of means can give more and be a significant part of the support of the third sector,” said Ehrlich.

About half the revenues of the nonprofits sampled, which included hospitals, institutions of higher learning and social organizations, came from government sources, including local authorities. About a third of the funding came from the sale of items - often to government bodies - or from the group’s assets. Some 6.7% of revenues came from contributions from abroad, seemingly mostly from Jews in the United States and Canada; while only 4.7% of total revenues came from donations within Israel.

Total donations made in Israel to such groups was 5.7 billion shekels in 2011 - a 14.4% increase from 2010. The sums raised abroad totalled some 8 billion shekels in 2011, up 18.3% from the previous year. Some 70% of the donations made in Israel came from households, and only 27% came from businesses. Large corporations gave only a small part of this amount. The remainder of the funds came from inheritances.

The percentage of the total of donations from Israeli businesses remained relatively steady from 2009 to 2011, though the amount increased from 1.3 billion shekels to 1.5 billion shekels, an 18% rise. In comparison, contributions from households rose by 25% in the same three-year period and reached 4 billion shekels.

An analysis of the data by Committed to Give was compared to the figures on corporations who asked for tax exemptions for charitable contributions, and it shows that Israeli corporations give some 800 million shekels to 1 billion shekels a year.

Most of the contributions that nonprofits received from businesses were in the form of volunteer time or goods, worth some 2.6 billion shekels. Only 22% of contributions over the three years were deducted from taxes, while businesses deduct some 44% of their contributions.

Ofer Vaknin