Operation Pillar of Cloud

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Unfortunately, Israel is once again engulfed in violence. As rockets fall on the south and center of the country, the IDF is trying to root out the terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. Millions of Israelis are under the threat of missiles and, despite the great advances of defensive systems like "Iron Dome," there have tragically been injuries and fatalities, as well as material damage.

Thankfully, JFN's staff and members in Israel are safe and sound, although some, like many others, have spent time in bomb shelters during the past two days.

Together with our Israeli staff and with the invaluable support of our Israeli Cabinet, we are monitoring the situation to see what kind of assistance is needed. We always say that our network is our biggest asset and this is particularly true at times like this, when our Israeli members can give us immediate and accurate reports from the ground.

We are in contact with Israel's "National Emergency Authority" (NEA) and the office of Home Front protection that is sending us updates on the situation. Because the situation is very fluid and will probably evolve based on whether there is a ground incursion into Gaza, they will eventually start circulating requests for help.

Right now, the biggest immediate needs are in the areas of children, the elderly, and people with special needs, as well as the professional teams assisting them. Requests for help will become more specific as the situation develops.

Our JFN Philanthropic Advisory Services in Israel are ready to help any funder who is interested in emergency grantmaking, either during the crisis or in its aftermath. Together with our Cabinet, we have a well-oiled machine that has been tested during previous emergencies.

In general, our advice on how foundations can respond to the crisis is the following:

  1. While the desire to help right away is strong, the most impact can be achieved by waiting to see what gaps need to be filled after Israelis, both the government and voluntary sectors, have provided their initial response.
  2. Balance the short and long term: Generally, the biggest and more difficult issues appear after the crisis. Foundations can keep part of their support in reserve, planning to deal with the long-term consequences of the crisis. Don't make decisions based on sketchy information; it can pay to wait until "the fog of war" has dissipated.
  3. Stay on mission: try to respond to the crisis in a way that is aligned with your strategic goals and your key competencies. For example, if you are a disabilities funder, see how you can help in that area. Learn what the needs are in your field of expertise.
  4. At the same time, it is important to participate in communal efforts, like those one conducted by JFNAJDC or others.
  5. Coordinate: providing help without coordinating with players on the ground results in waste and sometimes in outright damage.
  6. Communicate: it is critical to tell your fellow funders what you are doing—or even thinking—in response to the crisis. In times of crisis, networking becomes more valuable—and necessary—than ever.

To help funders think strategically and communicate between them we have opened a section in our webpage that will collect input from our Israeli members, updates from NEA and other useful information.

Let's all pray for a peaceful Shabbat and for a quick return of the quiet.

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