A conversation with Shula Mozes, a private funder and founder of “LaMerchav”, and Offi Zisser, Executive Director of Azrieli Foundation, about their experience with the group – the joint work with donors and foundations’ directors and the conference day
Shula Mozes, a private funder and founder of “LaMerchav”, and Offi Zisser, Executive Director of Azrieli Foundation Israel, were two of the leading figures in our group, and active members both in the roundtables and the conference. I asked them to share their views about the process. Offi Zisser said: “Personally, the group’s work was a powerful experience, as I’ve been part of the efforts to build an Israeli philanthropic community since 2005, when I worked at Sheatufim. About a decade ago, despite the need to define and support the needs of the Israeli community, most donors shied away from being defined as “philanthropists”, as they feared being associated with this group”.
“Today, in 2017, being part of such a collaborative process, which culminated in this exciting day in which we held our own conference on Israeli philanthropy, with about 200 donors and foundations directors participating and feeling proud to be part of the Israeli philanthropic community – has been very meaningful for me. The time and conditions have matured, and so have the personal and collective processes that the Israeli philanthropists went through and the professional work made by the different nonprofit infrastructure organizations that accompany them. This conference is the proof that we are living in a new and exciting reality”.
The group’s work which focused on philanthropy from a governmental standpoint was both complex and empowering, not only because of the content that relates to Israeli philanthropists at the personal and professional level, but also due to the constant presence and commitment of its members, who took part in the work group which gathered throughout the year that preceded the conference.
Shula Mozes also emphasized the importance of the process itself, of which both the content and conference were a direct product, thanks to a joint effort that reflected the people and experiences from the field. They turned the conference into one “made by and for the community – our own conference”. Shula stressed that there is a unique Israeli philanthropic community with its own characteristics: “we have our own say, our unique content and shared fields of interest, which differ from the international philanthropic community”. Another unique element mentioned by Shula and Offi is the joint planning and leading role taken by the organizing bodies: JFN, the Foundations Forum, CTG and the Institute for Law and Philanthropy at Tel Aviv University, who worked together and successfully co-managed the work process towards the conference. This partnership created for the first time a situation in which we all needed to agree on the language and content and give room to other perspectives regarding Israeli philanthropy. This collaborative work brought a different, interesting voice. The two added that the fact that the conference was held in Hebrew and focused on the Israeli public and our unique characteristics helped create a “safe space” that allowed an intra-Israeli dialogue.
Sigal Yaniv Feller, Director of Advisory Services, JFN Israel
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