There are over 40,000 non-profit associations (amutot in Hebrew) registered in Israel. These non-governmental organizations (NGOs) deal with a wide variety of social, political, and economic issues, including but not limited to human rights, civil rights, humanitarian aid, minorities, environment, religious services, and medical services. These NGOs work among different populations, utilizing various methods of research, education, lobbying, and media advocacy.
The activities of these civil society groups are financed primarily by foundations, private donors and businesses, as well as Israeli governmental bodies and foreign governments.
Using publicly available data from the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits (Rasham Amutot) and the guidestar.org.il website, NGO Monitor has mapped the Israeli NGOs that deal with human rights and related issues.
- There are 398 NGOs with a declared focus on human rights, humanitarian assistance, peace, coexistence, and dialogue, or raising funds for NGOs dealing with these issues.
- Among the 398 NGOs, 240 define themselves as human rights NGOs; 27 as humanitarian NGOs; 115 as NGOs dealing with peace, dialogue, and coexistence; and 16 as foundations raising funds or funding those NGOs.
- Annual reports from 195 of the 398 NGOs are available to the public on the website guidestar.co.il. This is an independent database that receives NGO submissions and financial reports from the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits and makes them accessible to the public. The percentage of such reporting (49%) suggests:
- missing or partial reporting by the NGO,
- reports delivered to the Registrar but not to Guidestar,
- lack of activity – many registered NGOs appear to be active
- NGOs in their first 2 years of existence, which are exempt from submitting many documents.
- Among the 195 NGOs with available annual reports, 114 include details on direct or indirect funding from foreign governments. However, only 41 (21%) reported such donations quarterly, as required by the “Law and Disclosure Requirements for [Groups] Supported by a Foreign Governmental Body” (2011).
- The sum of all reported donations from foreign governments to the mapped Israeli NGOs is over NIS 104 million (sum of donations from latest available year for each NGO).
- Of the 41 foreign-funded Israeli NGOs, 25 receive more than half of the budgets from external (generally European) governments. Many of these are part of the New Israel Fund network.
- The human rights community is larger than it appears in the media and public debate, which only covers a small group of NGOs. This may be as a result of the large amount of funding this small group receives from foreign governments.
- In many cases, the boards of this group of NGOs overlap significantly, suggesting a close connection and cooperation between the organizations.
During 2014, 27 high-profile NGOs that deal with the Arab-Israeli conflict, including B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence, and Gisha, received NIS 55,168,531 from foreign governments. Meaning, 27 out of the 195 NGOs with publically-available financial reports received approximately 50% of all foreign governments donations.