I had an interesting sit-down in the lobby of the David Citadel with Avner Stepak, the CEO of Meitav, the Israeli investment house that has some $3 billion in assets.
Stepak is working with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and another partner to start Midot, a service that is essentially an Israeli charitynavigator.org.
While American non-profits and foundations have to be fairly transparent as their annual 990 tax forms are made public and allow anyone to see how much money they take in, how much they give out and to whom, and how much they pay their top employees, Israel’s non-profit sector is much murkier.
Organizations do have to file annual financial reports with the government, but those reports are almost impossible to access and require navigating a ton of bureaucracy to get your hands on them. Once you do get to them, you’ll find their details are scant.
I’ll write a broader story about Midot soon, but in a nutshell Avner is hiring a team of social analysts to conduct individual analysis on Israeli charitable organizations. The reports will take several more steps than charitynavigator, which essentially studies 990s and grades them based on how economically efficient they are.
Midot, Avner says, will assign each organization it assesses two scores, one based on its finances and structure, and one that gauges how effective it is in providing services. Each report, he says, will take 70 man hours to conduct.
Ideally, he said, philanthropists will pay for the initial reportage on organizations in which they are interested, and then they will make the findings public for others to use. Basic reports will be available for free online at midot.org.il, and more detailed reports will be available for a fee.
The site will be up sometime in April, he says, but it will only have information about Midot until the organization has conducted reports on a hundred or so organizations. He hopes to have those first hundred finished and available in the next several months.