As was mentioned in my previous post, Israel’s OFFLINE Overhaul of its Nonprofit Sector (Guidestar Conference, Part 1), the June 26th Conference Organized by Guidestar Israel tantalized the attendants with many planned improvements within the government offices tasked with overseeing Isael’s nonprofit sector.
Even more monumental, though, are the changes that are taking place online. Here we are seeing not only an upgrade in software, but in approach and analysis as well, whose rippling effects will be felt far beyond Israel’s shores.
AN ONLINE TOOL FOR ISRAELI CHARITIES
Avi Shapira, CEO of NP Tech, the Public Benefit Company that develops and oversees Guidestar Israel and Techsoup Israel, stressed that his organization is aware of Guidestar’s important role in Israel’s nonprofit sector. Evidence of its increasingly crucial role, he said, is seen from the growing number of views of the site from abroad — even though the current version of Guidestar Israel is primarily available in Hebrew.
Shapira believes that Guidestar sits at a unique crossroads because it is a joint project between private and government entities. As such, he wishes that organizations would proactively use Guidestar as a Transparency tool. In this vein, Shapira believes that it is only natural that Guidestar should be the address to aggregate all available Government grants — a feature he believes will be integrated in approximately four months time. (Wow!)
Following up Mr. Shapira, was Benny Shlesinger, of NPTech, who is Guidestar Israel’s project manager. Benny opened that the new site can already be previewed at http://preview.guidestar.org.il.
ROBUST SEARCH FOR THE DONOR
The current site is available in English but only in a limited capacity. The new site, however, will exist in full in English and will incorporate English in its search functions, a feature that will allow international donors to more easily find organizations of interest. Additionally, increased search capabilities will also include the ability to search by organization type, a feature geared for the potential donor with a specific charitable goal in mind but is unaware of the players in that particular field.
In the new site, Shlesinger continued, nonprofits can add even more details to their profile, including links to their social media personalities on the various networks. (Links to donation portals already exist in the current version). This enhanced profile brings with it improved navigation and color designation to make it easier to discern if the information shown originates from certified Government sources or from the charity itself.
STREAMLINED DATA OUTPUT & TIMELIER ANALYSIS
Thanks to recent efforts to bring Israel’s nonprofit online, important data on Israel’s nonprofit sector is available faster than it was in the past.
Additionally, the available data incorporates internationally recognized definitions and categories (see pgs 18-22) to enable the data to be used beyond Israel’s borders, giving the local sector a better understanding of how it fares in the global market and vice versa.
Utilizing this shorter turnaround, Prof. Nisan Limor, Chairman of NP Tech and one of Israel’s leading researchers into its nonprofit sector, presented findings from 2010.
While not the focus of this article, it is interesting to note some of the points that Prof. Limor stressed:
The whole notion of tax-deductible status is very problematic in Israel. The data shows that only 4,280 out of Israel’s approximately 35 thousand charities actually have tax-deductible status, known here in Israel as Sei’f 46a status. Limor pointed out that no other OECD country has charities appealing to parliament to get tax-deductible status. (I shared my own opinions regarding Se’if 46 in a previous piece.)
Tracking “ownership” of nonprofits is still difficult if not impossible. There are invariably charities that are managed by local municipalities, making them extensions of local government and not really charities for the sake of sector analysis. Who these are and how many is very much a mystery.
With all the outcries against “high” salaries in Israel’s nonprofit sector, the numbers show that being a nonprofit manager is no sure ticket to riches. By law, each organization must list its five highest paid employees (assuming they even have five staff members). The average of the five highest paid employees across the entire sector amounts to 8,777 NIS a month, which Limor notes is Israel’s average monthly salary. Even the average of all highest paid employees only amounted to a monthly salary of 12,593 NIS — and all this is before taxes. (No wonder so many directors leave to enter the private sector.) Again, certainly not the point of this piece, but worthy to note.
TAKE-AWAYS FROM THE OFFLINE & ONLINE IMMENENT CHANGES
Both the global and local nonprofit sectors are changing and the word Transparency seems to be an integral part of this metamorphosis.
While it is true that most of points mentioned in the Guidestar-Israel articles are predictions for the future as opposed to hard analysis of the past — and we all know what happens when you “assume” — we should consider ourselves lucky that at last week’s conference the various Government oversight bodies were kind enough to specify the application of Transparency. The exact date these changes will come into effect is of less importance that the fact that they eventually will. Case in Point: Guidestar Israel took six years but did eventually get off the ground.
Israel charities should consider implementing soon the suggestions “offered” at the Guidestar Israel Conference in order to be among the leaders of this change instead of lagging behind.
In case you missed: Israel’s OFFLINE Overhaul of its Nonprofit Sector (Guidestar Conference, Part 1)
Disclaimer: This blog houses my personal opinions and is for informational purposes only — not advice. As charity laws can be quite complex and ever-changing, please refer all questions to qualified and licensed professionals. Read the full disclaimer.