Philanthropy to Israel From Abroad Jumped to $3.6 Billion in 2018

Donations to nonprofit groups both from overseas and from Israelis climbed 7%, but few Israelis are reporting their largesse to the authorities for a tax break

File photo: Dropping a coin into a JNF charity box, September 20, 2016.
Olivier Fitoussi

Philanthropic donations by both Israelis and foreigners continued to flourish in 2018 at a pace faster than economic growth or wage growth, according to data released Tuesday by the Central Bureau of Statistics.

The statistics bureau said nongovernmental organizations received 12.8 billion shekels ($3.6 billion) from abroad, a rise of 7% following a 5% increase in 2017. Total NGO revenue, including government funding, sales, services and capital gains, totaled 163.3 billion shekels in 2018, an increase of 6%.

Meanwhile, donations from Israeli households, businesses and nonprofit groups to Israeli NGOs jumped about 7% to 11.3 billion shekels. That figure had risen 5% in 2017.

Israeli taxpayers are encouraged to make donations to nonprofits that have received a tax status awarding a 35% tax deduction for contributions that total 180 shekels or more each year. Businesses receive a 23% deduction for such donations.

Despite the law, fewer than half the donations by Israelis are reported to the tax authorities; sometimes the donations are too small, other times the donor simply forgets to report. Donations of only 2 billion shekels were reported to the tax authorities in 2016.

In 2016, a little less than half the donations, 959 million shekels, came from 14,000 businesses, while the rest came from 98,000 households. About 1% of the businesses gave a million shekels or more. Some 2.2% of the households gave 50,000 shekels or more, accounting for 58% of the sum in this segment.