As a social activist and educator at BINA, for the past 10 years I have been on the “asking” side of philanthropy. I am proud of the work my organization does and feel strongly about its importance and ability in affecting change. This pride and confidence guides me in my quest for partners and supporters in times of quiet-routine as well as in times of emergency, such as the period we recently experienced during the “Protective Edge” war in Gaza. BINA was able to respond to the urgent need of the residents of the south during the war because our staff, activists and volunteers work there throughout the year as a matter of course. 12 months out of the year we are community-organizing, providing educational-support, staffing after-schools programs and running leadership-learning groups. When emergency circumstances arise, we are already “on the ground” and able to respond to real need in real time. We know which communities are overlooked and where to channel resources. We know in which shelters the kids will gather during the sirens and we have volunteers that can meet them there with activities and snacks. We know in which apartments reside isolated elderly and we can mobilize residents to do home-visits. We know which families have no means of private transportation and we are able to organize days of respite for them out of the range of missiles.
These organizational strengths and capabilities are the principles that steer me in my search for philanthropic resources to support our work. I believe that the principles, which guide me in my ”asking” in times of emergency, are the same ones which may serve as a guide to those on the “giving” side. Where should philanthropic funds go in times emergency? I would suggest they be directed to organizations for which their programs in times of emergency are organic and synergistic with the work they do throughout the year; organizations that are “plugged in” to the needs of the community and have the ability to respond quickly; organizations that are well respected and trusted by the residents and constituencies in the community; organizations that know which populations are overlooked and have the “home-front troops” to care for them; organizations that during periods of normalcy can help build the resiliency of communities to prepare for times of emergency, and after emergencies, still remain to help the community to heal.