Nonprofit organizations in Israel account for 16% of Israel's labor force and account for 6% of Israel's GDP.
In April 2020,
The Jewish Agency partnered with Ogen, an Israeli nonprofit lender, to launch The Emergency Loan Fund for Israeli Nonprofits. To finance the initiative, Ogen allocated 30 million NIS (~$8.5M) in lending capital for the loans. The Jewish Agency allocated an additional 3 million NIS (~$850K), and the two organizations together raised another 3 million NIS from Ogen donors.
With 16,000 nonprofits in Israel, the Fund’s mission was to help those nonprofits in danger of going under during the challenging COVID period by providing capital and consulting services.
Elul Beit Midrash is one organization whose income severely suffered due to COVID-19. Founded in 1989, Elul is the first pluralistic Beit Midrash (house of learning) in Israel, bringing together diverse participants to study Jewish and Israeli sources together. Many of Elul’s activities had to stop completely or were drastically decreased during the pandemic, forcing Elul to furlough staff. Getting a loan through the Emergency Loan Fund for Israeli Nonprofits made all the difference.
“The loan was so vital to us; it helped us to breathe, to stay afloat,” said Guy Gardi, Elul’s Director.
Another nonprofit that received a loan from the Fund was the Adler Institute, a nonprofit that serves and supports parents, and works within local communities as well, providing guidance on human and family relations. Liane Sela became CEO in March 2020, right before the pandemic hit Israel, inheriting the reins of an already economically insecure organization. Then, due to COVID-19, the Institute’s governmental and municipality subsidies and donations stopped coming in. To cut costs, Liane was forced to furlough half her staff.
Shortly thereafter, Liane was able to call most of her staff back to work; a good thing as all Adler programming needed to be transitioned to Zoom quickly.
“What we teach is so relevant, and in lockdowns, everyone is having to deal with their families and relationships more than usual,” Liane said. “We are touching people’s lives and even through Zoom, we are having an impact and helping parents through difficult times.”