Opinion: The COVID-19 Pandemic strengthened Israeli solidarity, Mickey Dahav, CEO
It has been astounding to witness, given the COVID-19 pandemic and the socioeconomic crisis affecting the entire country, how Israel’s private sector took it upon itself to help needy population sectors at a much greater intensity this year, especially around the High Holidays.
Israeli NGOs generally raise the most funds and in kind support for people in need during the High Holiday period. The summer of 2020 brought with it a significant fundraising message from Israel’s private sector, public companies and individual donors, all of which donated much more compared previous years when the economy was stronger and more stable.
In recent years many Israeli companies, beyond donating funds, have also donated their employees’ time to NGOs, making a significant contribution to people in need. Volunteering has become an integral part of the DNA of many companies as part of their corporate responsibility mandate. The current crisis and social distancing realities have made this type of volunteering difficult or impossible.
Without the option of volunteering, some companies also canceled their monetary donations – delivering a double blow which determined the fate of many social initiatives and projects. Yet there were others, for whom community responsibility is vital, who decided that this was the time to give more than ever before, especially in light of the widespread distress.
It was with these companies and organizations that we held an open dialogue on the difficulties of continuing to volunteer during this challenging period, and together we were able to find creative ways to help various population sectors. As a result, towards the High Holidays we raised twice the amount we did the previous year and our pool of partners grew too.
Another process signifying the resilience and maturity of Israel’s private sector is that these companies don’t just want to donate food baskets; they want to help provide those necessities that will allow people to cope with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in the best possible manner.
That’s how donations of desktop computers, laptops, tablets, screens, printers, high speed Wi-Fi connections, etc. became ordinary occurrences during this period. Necessities in almost all Israeli homes where children are studying remotely, donations of such items have been very significant for needy families who otherwise would have had to decide whether to provide their children with learning tools or buy food. Companies and their employees also volunteered to support and assist youth at risk and their families in distress with a variety of matters by video chat.
With every crisis comes an opportunity. The current crisis brought with it many opportunities to cooperate with dozens of Israeli companies, small and large, who understood the great social and economic need. The technological and behavioral means and lessons we have all grown accustomed to in the past months, paved the way for volunteering from a distance.
Once the crisis is behind us, we will all remain members of an Israeli society that will need to recover and bounce back, corporations and NGOs alike. It is my belief that we will recognize and reward those companies that understood society’s needs and acted accordingly.