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Transparency: Where the Money Goes in a Small Non-Profit

Tags: Israel Engagement, Writers, Arts and Culture, Advocacy, Jewish Unity, History, Family

By Dr. Elana Yael Heideman

Many questions are raised as to the spending of the financial resources accrued by a non-profit. Factors such as the name - ie organization vs. foundation, etc. - have a direct impact on the perception others have of said non-profit. For it is especially important when you are making an impact that there is complete transparency as to the use of funds.

We thought to share with you a response to a recent inquiry that we believe will help others understand just what a grassroots engagement effort is all about. Maybe, just maybe, it might encourage some of you to support our worthy cause.

Dear Sir,

I understand that you have some questions about IFF and our financial status and I am happy to have the opportunity to shed some light for you.

As you have seen by our public records, we are a registered US 501(c)3 since our inception in 2002. As of our rebranding and launch in 2011, we have focused our efforts on Israel engagement primarily through virtual and social platforms. All funds donated to The Israel Forever Foundation are divided between the actual needs of the foundation that include program development, content writing, marketing, outreach, and ongoing maintenance of our website and social media engagement platforms. Indeed, consultants and staffing are essential components of success and innovation in the work we do.

We are team of 6 women across 2 continents - with myself as the only full-time employee in order to keep within our budgetary constraints - and we are continuously amazed by what we have achieved with the seed funding that has given us the opportunity to build Israel Forever to what we have become today. Unlike private foundations, as an educational organization we are not required to give a percentage of donations to external causes. And yet we do everything we can do promote the important grassroots initiatives and important causes that bring direct assistance to those in need within Israel. We, on the other hand, focus on bringing Israel to the Jews throughout the Diaspora. We achieve this through the creation and promotion of content, programs and initiatives that give our members a sense of belonging to the ongoing project that is Israel, a deepened connection to our homeland and to each other, and pride as Virtual Citizens of Israel.

As with many small start-up non-profits, staffing is 50% of what is required to make the impact we are making. And it is that impact which is encouraging more and more Jews every day to make Israel personal, to feel inspired and connected, and to keep coming back for more. If anything is for the sake of Israel, it is ensuring a continuity of the connection that we have preserved for 3000 years in exile and that needs to be continuously celebrated and strengthened today.

Our hope is that, with increased funding, we will be able to double our programmatic output and ensure a positive impact in more communities, schools and homes. We have many ideas that we try to bring to life each year but often our budget doesn't allow for expansion beyond our current capabilities, which is why this year we have launched program-directed giving opportunities wherein each individuals' generous contribution are allocated towards the program of their choosing. This way we can ensure that every donor feels they are making a difference in a way that speaks directly to their hearts. More importantly, it allows us to be as transparent as possible as to how the money is spent and to alleviate any confusion about who we are, what we do, and why we are a indeed a worthy cause for contribution dollars.

I hope this addresses your concerns and demonstrates to you the integrity of our work, our vision, and of course the use of any and all funds donated to this important mission that we should all be a part of: ensuring that Israel is forever in our hearts, in our homes, and in the world.

Looking forward to hearing back from you and answering any other questions you might have. Please do not hesitate to ask if you might like to have a phone conversation at any time.

Thank you again for being a part of our global community over the years.

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About the Author

Dr.  Elana Yael Heideman
Dr. Elana Yael Heideman, Executive Director of The Israel Forever Foundation, is a dynamic and passionate educator who works creatively and collaboratively in developing content and programming to deepen and activate the personal connection to Israel for Diaspora Jews. Elana’s extensive experience in public speaking, educational consulting and analytic research and writing has served to advance her vision of Israel-inspired Jewish identity that incorporates the relevance of the Holocaust, Antisemitism and Zionism to contemporary issues faced throughout the Jewish world in a continuous effort to facilitate dialogue and build bridges between the past, present and future.

Tags: Israel Engagement, Writers, Arts and Culture, Advocacy, Jewish Unity, History, Family