Start-Up Society

The solution to the Israel/Diaspora Crisis is Simpler than it Seems

As 2017 comes to a close, it seems fitting to reflect on all that has occurred in the last (quite crazy) year.  One of the more crucial developments in the Jewish world was the continued erosion of the relationship between Israeli and North American Jewry in light of vigorous protests against Israeli government decisions related to religion and state. Some intellectuals even suggested divesting from Israel until changes were made. While this is not the place to discuss those decisions, their consequences and the reactions, we would like to propose a way to bridge some of the gap that has been created.

One could fairly criticize some Israelis for treating America like a teenager treats their parents’ wallets. Move in, sweet talk, grab the money and run. This approach has created some disdain donor-side because the donors feel disengaged from the process of spending the money and do not feel appreciated for their efforts to support Israel. We feel that if donors become more actively involved in researching and appraising charities and the work they do, there will be a shift in how both societies view each other.

 

In order to become more active, donors must appraise how the charities’ goals line up with their own and afterwards (this is key), they must explore how their donations are used. Did it go to salaries or causes? Was it used to promote projects that line up with the donors’ goals? Certainly, much money is donated blindly to large charities that are unclear in how the money is actually being used.

 

An active approach to giving could have an enormous impact on both charities and donors. Charities would face a demand for greater accountability, helping them to be become more effective. In addition, they would have access to more volunteers as enthusiasm is fostered for their causes. Meanwhile, donors would be more likely to internalize the mission of the charities to which they are giving. Their involvement in researching and thinking about the organization may also lead them to advocate for their preferred mission within their social circles.

 

Making the shift from a passive model to an active model will not be simple, though we feel that the features Jgive offers are crucial in the shift. Transparency, clear projects with clear goals, an easily searchable website, a straightforward path to tax refunds and the ability to contact people within each charity with real knowledge are all necessary. In addition, giving should be fun and easy.

 

Imagine Jews around the world using the internet to search through a number of charities in Israel and choosing where to give their money knowing exactly how it will be spent. Not only will Diaspora Jews be more engaged in their charity, they would in fact be shaping Israeli society, lending their voice to the Jewish project that is Israel. In this way, charity would become more than just a moral imperative and could excite and engage more people. Certainly, this could be an appealing model to younger Jews who are more active online and increasingly feel frustrated that their values are not represented in Israeli society. Do you want to see more pluralism? Find the non-profits promoting those values and support their initiatives! As we know from Citizens United, money is speech J.

 

Perhaps more importantly, the Diaspora communities would cease to be simply the “parents’ wallet” of Israel. Israeli charities would engage individual Diaspora communities online and in person to make their case that they are most worthy of their generosity. If we can successfully shift our perceptions of how giving works, we will see a far more effective charitable sector and greatly improve the societies in which we live. Most importantly, individuals will gain the knowledge that our actions matter and influence society no matter the distance between giver and receiver.

 

 As 2017 comes to a close, it seems fitting to reflect on all that has occurred in the last (quite crazy) year.  One of the more crucial developments in the Jewish world was the continued erosion of the relationship between Israeli and North American Jewry in light of vigorous protests against Israeli government decisions related to religion and state. Some intellectuals even suggested divesting from Israel until changes were made. While this is not the place to discuss those decisions, their consequences and the reactions, we would like to propose a way to bridge some of the gap that has been created.

One could fairly criticize some Israelis for treating America like a teenager treats their parents’ wallets. Move in, sweet talk, grab the money and run. This approach has created some disdain donor-side because the donors feel disengaged from the process of spending the money and do not feel appreciated for their efforts to support Israel. We feel that if donors become more actively involved in researching and appraising charities and the work they do, there will be a shift in how both societies view each other.

 

In order to become more active, donors must appraise how the charities’ goals line up with their own and afterwards (this is key), they must explore how their donations are used. Did it go to salaries or causes? Was it used to promote projects that line up with the donors’ goals? Certainly, much money is donated blindly to large charities that are unclear in how the money is actually being used.

 

An active approach to giving could have an enormous impact on both charities and donors. Charities would face a demand for greater accountability, helping them to be become more effective. In addition, they would have access to more volunteers as enthusiasm is fostered for their causes. Meanwhile, donors would be more likely to internalize the mission of the charities to which they are giving. Their involvement in researching and thinking about the organization may also lead them to advocate for their preferred mission within their social circles.

 

Making the shift from a passive model to an active model will not be simple, though we feel that the features Jgive offers are crucial in the shift. Transparency, clear projects with clear goals, an easily searchable website, a straightforward path to tax refunds and the ability to contact people within each charity with real knowledge are all necessary. In addition, giving should be fun and easy.

 

Imagine Jews around the world using the internet to search through a number of charities in Israel and choosing where to give their money knowing exactly how it will be spent. Not only will Diaspora Jews be more engaged in their charity, they would in fact be shaping Israeli society, lending their voice to the Jewish project that is Israel. In this way, charity would become more than just a moral imperative and could excite and engage more people. Certainly, this could be an appealing model to younger Jews who are more active online and increasingly feel frustrated that their values are not represented in Israeli society. Do you want to see more pluralism? Find the non-profits promoting those values and support their initiatives! As we know from Citizens United, money is speech J.

 

Perhaps more importantly, the Diaspora communities would cease to be simply the “parents’ wallet” of Israel. Israeli charities would engage individual Diaspora communities online and in person to make their case that they are most worthy of their generosity. If we can successfully shift our perceptions of how giving works, we will see a far more effective charitable sector and greatly improve the societies in which we live. Most importantly, individuals will gain the knowledge that our actions matter and influence society no matter the distance between giver and receiver.

About 
Jgive.com is a non profit that aims to connect between Donors worldwide and Israeli charities in a direct, efficient and transparent way.

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