Umbrella Group: 4,000 NGOs May Close Due to Global Crisis

Around 4,000 non-profit associations may close and 35,000 people may be laid off due to the current economic crisis, the heads of a non-profit umbrella organization told reporters at a press conference yesterday.

Thousands of other non-profits are significantly limiting their activity, they said, and may leave many needy people without assistance.

The heads of Civil Leadership called the conference in order to encourage the government to put together an emergency program for social service associations, as it has for the business sector.

"We are witnessing a phenomenon reminiscent of the Second Lebanon War, when the government fell asleep at the wheel and non-profits were forced to provide social services," said organization director general Dr. Yaron Sokolov. "We are making recommendations and filing requests, but the government is dragging its feet," he said.

Israel has 27,000 non-profit organizations, of which 12,000 are active. An October survey that covered 220 non-profit groups found that one in seven is considering closing shop due to the crisis and the falling exchange rate of the U.S. dollar. Around 80 percent of the groups reported economic difficulties, found the survey by Dr. Hagai Katz of Ben-Gurion University.

Rachel Liel, the head of Shatil, which provides consulting and manpower to non-profits, said the organizations have drafted a proposal for a NIS 500 million aid package to save the non-profit sector. One of its main recommendations is reducing or eliminating a 7.5 percent tax on salaries paid by non-profits.