Meet the Professional: Maya Lapid Edut

A Conversation with Maya Lapid Edut, Director of "Committed to Give"

By Ilil Comay-Dror, Marom Group

 

Just before the end of the Hebrew year, we spoke with Maya Lapid Edut, the director of Committed to Give, about social investors in Israel and the initiative she is directing.

Committed to Give

"Committed to Give - An Initiative to Promote Private Giving in Israel" was established by a group of social investors and funders with the goal of increasing the number of investors in the Israeli social sector in a significant and sustainable manner. Their activities include introductory sessions, workshops, social investment circles, networking and joint thinking sessions with various donors. The initiative is based on three principles: role models as motivation for action; exposure to the social and personal added-value of investment; and practical tools for gaining experience with social investment.

 

Potential Contribution in Israel

In order to understand the extent of funds available from private donors in the nonprofit sector in Israel, and how much contributions potential of sources in Israel and abroad, Committed to Give conducted several surveys. These surveys provide the most comprehensive data to date on the size and characteristics of private giving in Israel, as well as public opinion of philanthropy in Israel. According to Lapid Edut, there are barriers to giving in Israel and a need to nurture philanthropy within the Israeli society. By collecting and centralizing this knowledge, Committed to Give helps spur conversation and raise awareness of charitable giving to overcome these barriers.

Interestingly, the surveys found that unlike American donors, Israeli donors are not particularly motivated by tax exemptions. However, these exemptions do encourage existing donors to give more. In addition, Israeli social investors like to be involved in the day-to-day operations of the organization they have established or contributed to and often become experts in those respective fields. While this model of engaged donors can be inspirational to some new investors, it can be intimidating to others.

Another significant difference between Israeli and American funders is that Israelis do not find public recognition as an important factor in their giving. One of the reasons is that their aversion to being instantly overwhelmed by requests for donations. In addition, they recognize a widespread hatred towards the wealthy within Israeli society and fear that if the public learns they are “capable” of charitable giving this hatred might be directed at them.

By "capable", Lapid Edut refers to people who have the four T's: Ties, Talent, Time and Treasure, and are able to share them with others. They can share their network of connections, contribute their professional skills, give their time, and donate money from their private funds.

 

What characterizes donors in Israel?

It is estimated that there are about 10,000 households in Israel with at least $5 million in capital available. However, only about 1,000 of them contribute more than $25,000 a year to the Israeli nonprofit sector. While this number remains relatively low, it represents a trend of increasing Israeli giving overall.

According to Lapid Edut, this is good news. It demonstrates that Israeli giving is growing and the Israeli public is contributing more. The total donations from Israeli households grew by 15%, and about a half of this growth originated from an increase in contributions of over 100,000 NIS. At the same time, Israeli giving is still random, casual and responsive, meaning that only those who are approached tend to contribute. Although the majority of donations are of small sums, they accumulate to about 3 billion NIS a year. The most common example is crowdfunding campaigns, which are generally very successful in Israel. Only an additional 1 billion NIS comes from contributions of over 100,000 NIS.

Those who are capable of giving can give differently. They can shift from donation to social investment. Private donations to the nonprofit sector in Israel can enable more risk-taking, conducting pilots, and investment in research and development and impact measurement. Committed to Give encourages funders to examine the added value of their giving, think about what causes they want to be involved with, and generally regard giving as an investment with social returns. They can change the rules of the game by translating their entrepreneurial and business skills to the nonprofit world and developing infrastructure and social innovation in organizations.

According to a survey entitled Philanthropy of Israelis (2012-2015)," Israeli philanthropy accounts for 35% of all donations in Israel. Philanthropic donations per capita in Israel were $179, and philanthropy as a percentage of the GNP is 0.52%. While Israel’s donations per capita and philanthropy as a percentage of GNP are similar to those in Europe, they remain significantly lower than in Britain and the United States. In the United States, the percentage of household giving is twice as much as Israeli household giving.

 

What motivates Israeli donors?

People with means are motivated to give mainly for personal reasons, such as a search for meaning, a sense of responsibility for the community, tradition and sometimes, just to feel good. Usually, those with means in Israel do not contribute out of a sense of commitment or a desire to promote business relationships. They want to be in control of their giving, and to bring their knowledge from the business world. They wish to act as if they are managing investments in the social sector as they would investments in the business world, not as charity or contributions, but as a mean to promote social change. They want to be in constant connection with their beneficiaries throughout the year, not only at times of crisis and when resources are lacking.

In Israel, philanthropy is not a second nature and there is less of an expectation for the wealthy to become philanthropists. In the United States, philanthropic culture is much more prevalent and those capable of giving do not ask whether to give, but rather to which causes to give. Due to the lack of social expectation to give in Israel, there is also no expectation of financial success to be translated into charitable giving.

Committed to Give strives to be a platform that enables giving and sows the seeds of awareness surrounding philanthropy so it becomes an integral part of financial success.

 

What is the public's attitude towards philanthropy?

According to the survey, only 4.5% of the income of non-profit organizations between 2012 and 2015 came from Israeli philanthropy (donations from Israeli households, companies, and estates). Another survey called "People Can Give: Public Attitudes Towards Philanthropy (2017)" shows that the Israeli public defines philanthropy according to a prevailing perception that a private individual who contributes considerable money.

The poll shows that the Israeli public only superficially understands the map of philanthropy in Israel. 58% of the survey participants did not even know the name of one Israeli philanthropist. This is an interesting statistic since 67% of the participants also testified that their opinion of the wealthy in Israel would improve if they hear that they are involved in philanthropy.