Israel at War: How can funders help

For the duration of this crisis, we want to send you regular updates highlighting philanthropic needs and opportunities for action as they emerge.

I assume you all follow the news and know the extent of the tragedy. Suffice to say that with over 700 dead, 2200 wounded and 100 kidnapped so far, the last 36 hours were the bloodiest in the history of the country. It is correct to say that there’s nobody in Israel who doesn’t know somebody who has been a victim. I personally know four victims. Most tragically, three graduates of our teen philanthropy program in Israel are still missing and feared dead or abducted.

While there’s no doubt that the final outcome of this war will be an Israeli victory, the pain of this unfathomable tragedy is traumatizing Israelis and Jews across the world. Yet, paralysis is a luxury we can’t afford, so we’re mobilizing to do whatever we can both in Israel and abroad.

Many funders are wondering how they can help and many of us are inundated with requests for help and contributions. It’s important to establish priorities and determine legitimate ways of helping.

As I said yesterday, this will be a long-term crisis. And needs will emerge and be clarified slowly. Israel has a robust emergency system that has kicked into gear and is getting itself organized as we speak. While under serious strain, the response system of the country has not collapsed.

Our Israel director, Sigal Yaniv Feller, is part of the working group of the National Emergency Authority that is determining needs and opportunities to help in coordination with NGOs, govt offices, the business sector, and the IDFLike in previous emergencies, we join forces and work jointly with forum of foundations to serve the entire philanthropic community in Israel.

So far, a few themes are emerging:

  • Support for evacuees – 15,000 people have been moved out of communities on and near the Gaza border and are now housed in hotels and private homes across the country. They need both psychological and material support
  • Trauma counseling – The sheer number of affected families and communities is such that the system, despite being one of the best in the world, is being overwhelmed
  • Training emergency personnel – Many of the casualties were first responders. As you can see in the grim list of victims, many were paramedics, firefighters, social workers, and policemen. Local institutions in the area are shut down. Emergency response is dramatically short-staffed and urgent training is needed across the country
  • Support for army mobilization – The hasty mobilization of army reserves (milu’im) resulted in logistical problems for the IDF in feeding and equipping their soldiers. While this situation is expected to stabilize in the coming days, the needs are prescient now
  • Long term resilience and reconstruction – Communities in the south were shattered, to say the least. If the loss of people wasn’t enough, the kibbutzim saw fiery battles and many lay in ruins. Social and physical rebuilding will be a task in which philanthropy will need to help
  • Those of you active in advocacy and social media are aware that there will be, together with the military battle, a fight to defend Israel in the public square
  • There’s an increased risk for Jewish Communities across the world, so organizations dealing with communal security need to be beefed up
  • While not equal in magnitude, there’s a growing problem of Israelis stranded abroad as foreign airlines suspended flights. Some need accommodation and support

In situations like these, one of the major problems is how to centralize and prioritize the needs. JFN is involved with the Prime Minister’s Office, the Home Front Command of the IDF, the Business Forum, the Civil Society Forum, and the Forum of Foundations in creating such a mechanism. The idea is to relaunch the central database of vetted needs that functioned well during COVID and can be easily brought back online. For those funders that want to do something immediate, supporting the relaunching of this platform is an option.

While we advise funders to pace their involvement so as to have resources for more long-term needs, those that want to help now can do so through many well-established organizations, including federations the Jewish Agency,  the JDC, NATAL (Israel Trauma Coalition), Magen David Adom, United Hatzalah, and several others. We have listed these opportunities in a dedicated webpage ( As always, we suggest to donate to well-established organizations, with a presence on the ground and a track record of disaster relief. All the ones that we listed meet that criteria.

Funders that want to send money to nonprofits in Israel and need a fiscal sponsor can use our “Give to Israel” mechanism. JFN is waiving the GTI fees for the duration of the conflict. Other mechanisms, like PEF or Jewish Community Foundations, also can serve as conduits.

As I wrote yesterday, we’re encouraging members to share what they’re doing and the needs they’re identifying. JFN will be hosting an emergency briefing tomorrow, October 9, at 11:00am Eastern time, 8:00am Pacific time, 18:00 Israel time. We will share the most up-to-date information we have of the situation on the ground and go into detail about opportunities to help. Please join to submit more ways to provide support. And please write us to [email protected]. Our staff both locally and in Israel are fielding calls and offering funders personalized advice on where and how to donate. Since our Israel staff is fielding many calls, we ask that you write to us in the US (or to the above email address) so that we can best direct your concern.

Finally, I have no words to commend our Israeli staff whose professionalism and dedication is beyond admirable. Sigal, for example, is dealing with personal loss and with the anxiety of having a son on the front, while working nonstop. The same goes for every member of our staff. My gratitude and admiration is boundless.

Let me finish with the words of the Psalmist: “May God give strength to God’s People; May God bless God’s People with peace.”