I got to thinking about Israel and Jewish fundraising in June, when three children were kidnapped, and later found to be murdered.

I wondered what I would do if I were a fundraiser for an Israel-oriented organization, with programs and endowments to fund, and goals to achieve.

Would I leverage the news for my cause and coffers?

My thoughts were spurred on by an e-mail I received from the JNF. In my opinion, the JNF was a little too quick for my philanthropic tastes. Before Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrach, and Gilad Shaar were buried, I think I received an e-mail from the JNF stating that they would name a grove of trees for the three. Discreetly included in the communication was a way to donate to the JNF. Now that the Gaza operation is in effect, their letters deal with their support for mobile shelters and a 24/7 rec center in Sderot.

And what about other groups?

Most appear to be acting with greater discretion, focusing on direct appeals and advertisements in the Jewish media. I have not seen any ads in the national media during the war; the groups appear to be keeping their appeals within ‘the family.’.

Obviously, the Friends of the IDF leveraged the situation, and appealed for donors. Nily Falic, National Chairman of the group started appealing for $18 donations before the first call-up of 40,000 troops. The group will provide well-being packages to IDF soldiers.

Also, ASI-Canada (Association of Soldiers of Israel-Canada) is raising funds and writes that it already spent $277,000 on immediate needs such as hygiene kits, clothing, kits for wounded soldiers, hydration backpacks, coffee kits, disposable wet shower towels, snack packs and cold drinks.

On the internet, Barak Raz, a former IDF spokesmodel, is promoting a crowdfunding of $100K for IDF soldiers. As I write this, they already raised 40% of their goal. The ProtectIDF Initiative looked a little sketchy, but he is a former spokesmodel and SUNY-Binghamton grad. So it is probably okay. It is organized by “former lone soldiers from elite units and alumni of the Heseg Foundation that have made aliya.”

Word is that the IDF has become irked by people and groups raising $$ for soldiers, and they have reinforced the point that soldiers have enough equipment and food.

Hadassah The Women’s Zionist Organization of America is placing ads in the Jewish media that focus on Hadassah’s trauma center and its role in healing soldiers and other wounded people.

The American Associates of Ben Gurion University is discreetly mentioning that donors can support a fund to pay tuition expenses of reservists; and it has created a Wartime Assistance Fund for the as many as 1,000 Ben-Gurion University of the Negev students, faculty and staff deployed both in and around the Gaza Strip. It will provide special scholarship assistance for students who are unable to work this summer and earn the income necessary to cover their tuition and expenses.

Technion is advertising – only in the Jewish media so far – how its graduates worked to develop the Dome protection system that is saving lives and property in Israel (80 percent of the engineers at the system’s manufacturer are Technion graduates)

American Friends of Magen David Adom is promoting its role in emergency relief and medical care; and Bnai Brith International has opened an Israel Emergency Fund for its members and supporters.

Friends of United Hatzalah of Israel is advertising for funds in the Jewish media. Their copy reads “Protect United Hatzalah medics fighting to save lives.” This group should not be confused with the other hatzalah-titled fundraisers in NYC that were recently cited by the New York State Attorney General as being fraudulent.

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews is among the most skilled at fundraising and direct mail appeals. It started an emergency support center for the elderly and is allocating more funds for bomb shelters in southern Israel. Its website has been updated for raise funds, request up to $300 with an initial interstitial ad, and request prayers and participation in prayer teams.

The Orthodox Union and its member congregations created an Israel Emergency Fund to offer respite and psychological services to Israeli children.

Colel-Chabad has been sending e-mailed requests for funds to help them to provide meals to needy families in Southern Israel.
I received over four e-mail appeals already from The New Israel Fund. Its appeals tell of their work supporting the placing of security guards near bomb shelters to ensure Arab citizens are not barred from entry; working on a Jewish/Bedouin joint project; providing transportation to bring Jewish shoppers to the market of the Arab town of Tira; helping draw thousands of Israelis to rallies against calls of “revenge” against Arabs; and petitioned the Israeli High Court to ensure that Bedouin Israelis were offered the same protection from rocket attacks as their Jewish neighbors.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has not appealed for any funds directly. They have asked their members and readers to take action against the rising anti-Semitic rallies in berlin and other European cities and the 100 celebrities in Spain who signed a declaration saying that Israel is committing genocide.

Many American Reform and Conservative synagogue congregations have partnered with the UJA/Federations system to raise funds through personal appeals and advertisements in Jewish media. They have pledged $10 million in allocations to Israel during the crisis. Twenty leaders from the NYC federation are in Israel this week touring some of the fund recipients. Today, the New York group pledged $200,000 to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, which was hit by Hamas missiles. The gift will be used to purchase a laminectomy set for the emergency room, laser equipment for eye surgery and an ophthalmic ultrasound scanner and an anesthesia machine for the operating room (so that other funds, I suppose, can be used to repair any missile damage)

It will be interesting to see how the fundraising campaigns evolve as the Summer continues. (And don;t even get me started about how the Republican Jewish Coalition, the National Jewish Democratic Council, AIPAC, and the Neo-Con, ECI, Emergency Committee for Israel, are reacting)

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