I had a conversation with my father over breakfast this morning about fundraising in Israel. My father, Matthew Maryles, who is visiting Israel for the holidays, is currently the CEO of American Friends of Bar Ilan University, responsible for raising considerable sums for both operating costs and capital campaigns of this seminal Israeli institution. This is how he’s spending his “retirement”. In his pre-retirement, he was a Wall Street executive with fundraising just a “hobby” – he worked in fundraising as a layman for too many organizations for me to recount: UJA Federation of New York, The Yeshivah of Flatbush, Gesher, Yeshiva University, JCRC, and the list goes on. Given his vast experience and decades-long perspective, I decided to possibly ruin the casualness of the morning and pick his brain about the current state of Israeli fundraising.
“This is a very difficult time,” he said. Although the organization is still substantially meeting its goals for operating support, and has a successful planned-giving fundraising operation, he said it is very difficult to raise money for capital campaigns. “Hardly anyone has a high level of confidence about what the next five years will look like economically and financially. There is no clear sense about what the future looks like, and in that climate, it is very difficult to secure long-term commitments, and thus create a sustainable long-term strategic plan.”