Birthright foundation announces matching grants program

The Birthright Israel Foundation on Thursday announced a new matching grant program for 2010.

The program will give a dollar-for-dollar match on any increase in donations to the foundation based on 2008 gifts. That means if a donor gave $100 in 2008, and  gives $120 in 2010, the $20 increase would be matched by the foundation.

Private philanthropists, the Jewish federation system, the Jewish Agency and the government of Israel fund the Birthright program. The foundation oversees the private money given to the program , which makes up the vast majority of the Birthright budget.

The foundation has up to $20 million to use for the matching grants, which are being funded by a $10 million gift from casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and another $10 million from a small group of other donors.

The Adelson money is the second installment of a $30 million pledge he made in 2008.

According to Birthright, the foundation is in the middle of a huge push to broaden its donor base. In 2008, the foundation had 2,823 donors. The number nearly tripled to 8,370 in 2009 as it rolled out a national grass-roots campaign. The foundation aims to have 50,000 donors by 2015.

Here is the press release from Birthright:

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Demand Surges for Birthright Israel Summer Trips, 24,000 Young Adults Waitlisted

Program announces 1-to-1 matching grant to boost participation.

NEW YORK-Taglit-Birthright Israel announced today a sharp increase in eligible applicants for the program’s summer session, up 12 percent from the same session last year.

After closing North American registration for 2010 summer trips yesterday, Birthright Israel said nearly 39,000 Jewish young adults had qualified, up from 35,500 last year. With 15,000 summer spots available, Birthright Israel faces the prospect of leaving at least 24,000 applicants home. 

“We’re just wrapping up a great winter season in which we took almost 11,000 participants from 24 countries, and demand grows every year,” said Gidi Mark, CEO of Taglit-Birthright Israel. “We know the impact the trips have on Jewish lives. We wish we could take them all, and we’re working towards that.” 

Since its first flight in 1999, Taglit-Birthright Israel has taken over 230,000 Jewish young adults from all over the world to Israel on a free, educational, peer-group trip. Independent research published last year by Brandeis University shows that, five to ten years later, the majority of participants describe the experience as “life-changing.”  

“The time to support Birthright Israel is now,” said Bob Aronson, President of the Birthright Israel Foundation. “We’ve announced a brand-new matching grant that adds one dollar to every dollar given to the program, hugely increasing the power of all gifts.”  

The Brandeis study published last fall concluded that Birthright Israel alumni have a stronger relationship with Israel than non-participants, have a stronger sense of Jewish identity and a stronger desire to raise Jewish children. 

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