Fundraising in the US: Israeli Nonprofits Can’t Just Hit the “Translate” Button


These are challenging times. COVID lockdowns and emergency needs in both Israel and the US have put immense pressure on nonprofits in both countries. It seems donors are receiving more requests than ever, from more organizations than ever, multiple times a day. Relevant and compelling messaging that connects emotionally with donors is critical to success. And language that resonates with Israelis is not necessarily the same for US donors.

In the nonprofit sector in Israel, after government grants and fees-for-service, organizations look to Jews living abroad for a large percentage of their support. According to Kishurim, a Jerusalem-based executive recruitment firm specializing in the nonprofit sector, nearly 15% of funding for the nonprofit sector in Israel comes from private donations, with the majority originating in the US. For Israeli nonprofits messaging specifically crafted for the US donor is extremely important to the mission and the bottom line.

A survey of websites of some Israeli nonprofits makes the point. The Israeli websites simply translated into English are like a to-do list, colorful and energetic and communicating what the organizations DO, while the US donor is motivated by IMPACT. Kishurim, in its overview of the Israeli nonprofit sector, emphasizes US donors seek “clearly defined objectives and the ability to measure the effectiveness of their investments.” We recently helped our client Dror Israel, whose mission is to educate for a just and equal society, rethink their messaging, recreate their English website, and more clearly demonstrate the impact of their work across all communications platforms.

At Marketing Matters, we understand the similarities and differences between Israeli and US audiences. We have spent a lot of time crafting messages which tell an Israeli story in a way that resonates in the US. We know what compels Israelis will not necessarily compel the US audience. You can’t just hit the “TRANSLATE” button.

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