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Hebrew University report highlights civil mobilization during war

According to the study, 48.6% of the Israeli population has engaged in volunteering, a notable increase from the rate observed during the COVID-19 crisis (33%).

Nearly half of the Israeli population has rallied to volunteer in a variety of capacities, setting aside pre-existing social divisions following the Hamas attacks, according to a report by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Institute for the Study of Civil Society and Philanthropy.

“This is a mega event for civil society in Israel even in comparison to other crisis situations,” says Professor Michal Almog-Bar, head of the Hebrew University Center for the Study of Civil Society and Philanthropy at the School of Social Work and Social Welfare. “Philanthropy and volunteering initiatives are taking place amongst every sector of Israeli society: Haredi, religious, secular, Arab, Bedouin, Druze, Christian. Disappointment in the government’s response has led people to do more.”

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Credit: Courtesy.

According to the study, published in Hebrew, 48.6% of the Israeli population has engaged in volunteering during the ongoing war, a notable increase from the rate observed during the COVID-19 crisis (33%). Notably, volunteerism is cutting across all age groups, genders, and religious affiliations. In particular, the rate of volunteerism among the Arab Israeli population has reached 29%, a notable rise from the 19% recorded during the COVID-19 crisis.

“This is a mega event for civil society in Israel”

Prof. Michal Almog-Bar, Hebrew University of Jerusalem Center for the Study of Civil Society and Philanthropy

So far, during the initial weeks of the war, civil initiatives demonstrated their remarkable ability to address the urgent needs and pressing challenges that have arisen within Israeli society. These initiatives play a pivotal role in executing crucial tasks such as rescue operations, evacuations, temporary shelter provision, food and medical supply distribution. Additionally, they are providing invaluable psychological support to those affected, emphasizing the power of grassroots efforts in times of crisis.

According to the Hebrew University report, Israelis have to date raised hundreds of millions from crowdfunding through many campaigns which is unprecedented. Equally, impressive is the size of donations large and small in the United States. Typically, most of the funds donated are from high-net-worth donors.

The report underscores the importance of effective coordination between civil organizations and government bodies to ensure a unified response to pressing needs. It also suggests that civil organizations can evolve into a valuable support force for government activities during ongoing combat operations. The center’s study relied on five main collection methods to track volunteering efforts and donations: data provided by the Forum of Foundations in Israel; public crowdfunding campaigns; conversations with volunteering and fundraising operations across the country; information from nonprofit organizations; and media reports.

Other Key Findings:

Volunteers and Donations: Highlighting the synergy between volunteerism and philanthropy, many volunteers are integrating their efforts with financial contributions, participating in voluntary initiatives and crowdfunding campaigns. The most prominent volunteer activities include collecting, packing and distributing food and equipment; transportation of people, food and equipment, assisting security forces; participating in outreach activities through social networks, and offering essential aid to evacuees.

Inclusivity: Unlike the predominantly youth-driven volunteering seen during the COVID-19 crisis, individuals of all age groups are actively participating. Notably, 46% of those 18-35 years of age, 52% of those ages 35-55, and 52% of those above 55 engaged in volunteering. Impressively, volunteerism is transcending gender and religious boundaries. The use of technology for digital volunteering is extending the reach to remote and mobility-limited populations, underscoring the adaptability and inclusivity of these volunteer efforts.

Spontaneous Volunteers: A substantial majority of volunteers (28%) are newcomers to volunteering efforts, underscoring the widespread participation of citizens who hadn’t volunteered before the conflict. These newcomers are predominantly secular and have above-average incomes.

Local and Affiliated Groups: Local and affiliated groups play a significant role in addressing the specific needs of their communities, providing temporary accommodation to evacuees, and extending their support beyond their local borders.

The center plans to develop a more comprehensive report of contributions including financial, material and people’s time. 

About the Hebrew University of Jerusalem 

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is Israel’s premier academic and research institution. Serving over 23,000 students from 80 countries, the university produces nearly 40% of Israel’s civilian scientific research and has received over 11,000 patents. Faculty and alumni of the Hebrew University have won eight Nobel Prizes and a Fields Medal. For more information about Hebrew University, visit: http://new.huji.ac.il/en

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About the Hebrew University of Jerusalem: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is Israel’s premier academic and research institution. Serving over 23,000 students from 80 countries, the University produces nearly 40% of Israel’s civilian scientific research and has received more than 11,000 patents. Faculty and alumni of the Hebrew University have won eight Nobel Prizes and a Fields Medal. For more information about the Hebrew University, visit: http://new.huji.ac.il/en. 
About American Friends of the Hebrew University (AFHU): American Friends of the Hebrew University (AFHU) is a national, not-for-profit organization based in the United States. AFHU is headquartered in New York and has seven regional offices working in close partnership with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. AFHU provides supporters, Hebrew University alumni, and the public with stimulating programs and events and organizes missions to Israel. The organization’s activities support scholarly and scientific achievement at HU, create scholarships, fund new facilities, and assist the university’s efforts to recruit outstanding new faculty. For more information, visit: www.afhu.org.
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