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Although the not-for-profit sector took a strong hit during the global financial meltdown, many people continue work in this industry in Israel and it seems to be making a comeback. One critical job function is fund raising, the lifeblood of any such organization. I am pleased to introduce David Maier-Epstein, an expert in the field of fund-raising, who has written the following article to introduce this subject.

Fundraising in Israel is developing at an impressive pace. There are close to 30,000 registered non-profits already operating and 150 new ones registering every month. Notwithstanding the economic downturn which has significantly impacted upon Israel's nonprofits, the demand for good resource development professionals at all levels has grown, particularly at the entry and junior levels. The jobs that are available range from part time and freelance grant writing to full time directors of resource development which would include foundation grants, personal soliciting, fundraising events, corporate partnerships, telephone solicitation and internet & social media fundraising.

The profiles of suitable fundraisers are far more varied now than they were in the past. People in the profession come from a variety of educational and vocational backgrounds, not only social work and community organization but also nonprofit management, business, law, sales, marketing and finance. In addition to writing, the skills needed include verbalization, articulateness and an outgoing personality among other traits. Most positions will pay an hourly rate which can vary from 35 – 100’s of shekels depending on experience. There are a small number of companies which provide a variety of services to nonprofit organizations on a contractual basis or external services who hire people to provide the services listed above.

Some of the smaller organizations and particular religious organizations will be interested in offering percentage based compensations which is contrary to the code of ethics of the profession. It is my strong recommendation not to enter into such an arrangement – in the long run it is against the best interests of the organization, the donors and the professional.

Although Hebrew fluency is a must to become a complete fundraising professional in Israel, English as a mother tongue, computer literacy, writing and articulation skills give Anglos a huge advantage in gaining employment and succeeding in the field. Even without fluent Hebrew, one can learn to write foundation grant proposals as long as the information can be transmitted by an English speaker within the organization; one can target fellow Israeli English speakers for involvement and support and one can communicate and concretize support from overseas Friends from English speaking countries.

While one can enroll in Masters level academic programs, there are shorter term courses that can provide a basic background needed to enter the profession. In addition to those that are seeking to break into this industry, many explain that their reason for taking a course is that they have been given the responsibility for fundraising for their organization, but they never had the opportunity to actually learn the theory, skills and practice.

Up until now there has not been a parallel version of the American and European Associations of Professional Fundraisers in Israel. On May 18th 2011 at K’far Maccabiah, the founding conference of professional fundraisers will commence. Membership is open to anyone who sees himself as a member of the profession and who will accept and agree to work under the code of ethics that will be adopted at the conference. Please click here for more information and to register.

Many people shy away from this occupation because they feel uncomfortable asking others for money. It is possible to find work as a grant writer which essentially focuses on writing as opposed to interaction with people. However, this severely limits the number of job opportunities and remuneration levels. The alternative is to realize that the good done by professional fundraisers is well worth the personal discomfort one may feel from asking for money.

Contributed by David Maeir-Epstein - March 2011

About the Author

David Maeir-Epstein, M.S.S.A., is the CEO of
David Maeir-Epstein, Resource Development Consultants for Nonprofits in Israel. He also serves as the Israel representative of the Shirley and William R. Fleischer Family Foundation, Inc. David has a distinguished record of service in executive positions in planning, leadership development and fundraising in the Jewish Federations in Boston, St. Louis, and Louisville, Ky. He served as Israel Desk Director at the Joint Distribution Committee's Headquarters in New York and as the Israeli community representative of the Jewish Federations of Baltimore, Los Angeles, Houston, and Central New Jersey for Project Renewal. David is a founding member of the Israel Association of Professional Fundraisers (IAPF). He has taught resource development at the Baerwald School of Social Work of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and has authored a book chapter on resource development in a textbook that is used by the community work tracks of social work schools in Israel. He can be reached at [email protected].

Whether you are currently responsible for fundraising in your organization, on a lay or professional level; or you are a new immigrant looking to enter the nonprofit field; or you are looking to making a career change; or you have recently retired and now want to make your contribution to society, may I suggest that you consider joining one of our short term training courses in Fundraising, Grantwriting and Work with Foundations. Courses are starting March 23rd in Efrat (English), April 3rd in In Hertziliya (English), April 12th in Jerusalem (Hebrew) and an English course in Jerusalem will begin after Pesach. Contact
[email protected] or visit our website http://www.israelgrants.com/en for more details.

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