Study: Giving to Israel Down 16 Percent

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Recession responsible for much of the decrease, but longer-term factors played role reports EHL Consulting Group, Inc.

While it’s not surprising that giving went down during the recession, we were surprised by the extent of the decrease.

A study published today by EHL Consulting Group, Inc., American Friends: U.S. Philanthropic Support for Israeli Nonprofits, found that American giving to Israeli causes exhibits the same trends as American giving overall, but in a much more exaggerated way, with higher peaks and lower troughs. Specifically, giving to a sample of 80 organizations that fundraise in the U.S. for specific programs in Israel decreased by 16 percent from 2006 to 2009. A previous study, published in 2008, examined giving to a similar set of organizations and found that giving increased 64 percent from 2001 to 2006.

“While it’s not surprising that giving went down during the recession, we were surprised by the extent of the decrease,” said Avrum D. Lapin, one of the study’s authors and director/principal at the EHL Consulting Group, Inc., the Willow Grove, Pa. fundraising consultancy specializing in giving to Israel that conducted the study. “Most of the decline was caused by a large drop in 2009 in giving to higher education in Israel, which is especially sensitive to the recession because of the large size of the gifts.” Non-education organizations began to recover in 2009, as did U.S. giving generally, he added.

While giving to the 80 American Friends organizations decreased by 16 percent, U.S. giving overall to those four sectors decreased by only 1.52 percent from 2006 to 2009. Giving overall bottomed out in 2008 and began to recover in 2009, but American Friends giving continued to decline, creating the large disparity in the figures.

Despite these decreases, giving to these 80 organizations totaled $725 million even at its low point in 2009, representing a substantial source of foreign support for projects in Israel. “More American Friends organizations exist for Israel than for any other single country. Nonprofits elsewhere would love to have this kind of American support,” said Lapin. When including giving to religious institutions and support from the Jewish Federation system and other umbrella campaigns, total U.S. support for Israel’s nonprofit sector easily exceeds $1 billion annually, the report noted.

The report blamed the recession for much of the decrease, but longer-term factors play a role as well.

“American Friends organizations have grown in number and importance in recent years as donors move away from traditional umbrella campaigns in order to gain more control over their donations,” said Robert I. Evans, the study’s other author and managing director at EHL Consulting. “Today’s donors do not necessarily prioritize giving to Israel as their parents did, but are more entrepreneurial and look to maximize the return on their philanthropic investment. All of this means that more American Friends organizations are competing for their slice of a smaller pie.”

The report predicted that giving to the organizations likely continued to recover in 2010, and should recover further in 2011, but full data to study was not yet available due to the IRS’ filing deadlines. But, the authors suggest, American Friends organizations should not wait to aggressively fundraise.

“While a compelling case for giving may attract a donor’s interest,” Lapin said, “a well-established relationship along with the potential for tangible results will impact the size and scope of a gift.” Lapin noted that widely reported multi-million dollar gifts are the result of many years of stewardship and cultivation. “It takes patience and fortitude,” he said. “These gifts rarely come overnight.”

Both an executive summary and a copy of the entire report are available on request by writing to Robert Evans at revans(at)ehlconsulting(dot)com or by downloading from PRWeb.

About EHL Consulting Group
Since 1991, the EHL Consulting Group has collaborated with more than 350 nonprofit organizations in the U.S., including a large number of Israel-based organizations that seek financial and leadership support from donors in America. Today, EHL Consulting works with several prominent Israel-based causes that rely on the firm’s expertise in raising money for Israeli organizations in the U.S. For more information, visit http://www.ehlconsulting.com.

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Sharon Bond
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