According to various surveys, over 90% of American Jews identify as Zionists. While this nominal unity for Jewish sovereignty in the ancestral home of the Jewish people is wonderful, one could reasonably wonder about the practical expression of this support, as most Zionist Jews are not involved in any type of pro-Israel activism. Fortunately, after Black Friday and Cyber Monday comes Giving Tuesday.
And in fact, the easiest way to contribute is by making a charitable donation. It is a passive form of activism, which is nonetheless extremely effective. Donations empower those who are positioned to contribute time and skill to maintain and expand their operations and engage in new and farther-reaching projects. A charitable contribution may be viewed as a purchase, and like any significant purchase it should be treated with care. Here, a donation provides your proxy with the power to act.
As you make a donation to an Israel-focused cause, do you wish you could give more? As you think of the impact your dollars are making in improving the lives of ordinary Israelis and building an ever-better Israel, do you wonder how much more could be done?
One way to help your passion go further is through corporate matching by taking advantage of your employer’s gift matching program. In recognition of the tremendous value and potential within corporate gift matching, American Forum for Israel, a member organization of the American Zionist Movement, has initiated an ambitious new project to leverage the existing mechanisms within the world of philanthropy to help American Zionists increase their charitable footprint. The initiative is focused on educating Zionists about the multiplier effect within corporate matching and the types of charities that may be eligible to receive the match.
According to doublethedonation.com, only 22% of eligible donors are aware of whether their employer offers gift matching, and only 7% of donors at companies with gift matching programs submit a matching request to take advantage of the perk. The employer gift-matching multiplier varies, and while most employers give 1-to-1 matches, that is $1 from employer for every $1 from employee, some employers offer 2-to-1 or even 3-to-1 matches.
If the aforementioned statistics are correct, consider the enormous potential being left on the table and how much more could be done with this readily available additional funding. It could help advance medical research, or contribute to financing a new wing in a hospital, or develop water infrastructure.
If you have not done so yet, find out if your preferred charities are on your employer’s list of approved non-profits. Alternatively, check your employer’s list of approved non-profits to see which ones meet your philanthropic objectives and consider that your money could go further than before.
Once you identify the non-profits that meet the above conditions, follow your employer’s matching guidelines in terms of (minimum) donation amount. As an example, many employers do not match gifts below $25 or $50. Pay careful attention to the amount that is eligible for a tax write-off in the US, as that is the amount that your employer will be interested in. For example, upon making a donation, you may find out that for the given non-profit organization only amounts above $100 are eligible for a write-off. In such cases, you would have to add your employer’s gift match minimum to the $100 to activate the benefit. On the other side, pay attention to the maximum amount that the employer is willing to match and set your expectations appropriately.
Another factor to keep in mind is timing. Ascertain whether the employer’s gift-matching is offered year-round, as there may be a calendar cutoff for the year. Also, be sure to check for a strict time window to submit a request for a gift match. As an example, some employers may set a hard deadline as of December 31st, while others may allow 60, 90, or even 360 days after the donation to submit the request.
While gift matching is the most popular vehicle, another source of corporate contribution for your non-profit may be a program like Dollars-For-Doers or Dollar-For-Your-Hours, whereby an employer contributes a certain amount of money (at a rate of x dollars per hour) for each hour volunteered by the employee at a non-profit. The compensation rate varies by employer, but it could be $100 per volunteer hour or even higher. Take into account the requisite minimum amount of volunteer hours to activate this benefit and make sure that your volunteering is documented. Beyond this, pay attention to some of the same factors that we discussed with regard to gift matching.
In the event that you believe that a non-profit organization should be added to your employer’s list of approved organizations, consult the employer’s donation matching guidelines. Employers may state that eligible entities should be non-political and non-religious or that they should be US-based. Once you confirm that your suggested non-profit passes your employer’s eligibility criteria, submit your request with basic information about the organization to the appropriate contact in Human Resources or Philanthropy department.
Hopefully, this missive is helpful in taking your Israel-focused charitable giving further this year than ever before. And any time you decide to make a donation could be a Giving Tuesday.