The monthly update for our most dedicated supporters from Gidi Kroch
The Corona pandemic has presented a number of new challenges for Leket Israel. Perhaps, the biggest challenge is to our commitment, flexibility and ability to adapt to external changes that are completely out of our control.
When the virus first began to spread in China, we initially believed it to be a local epidemic that was occurring halfway around the world, and perhaps, naively, we believed it would stay there. As we well know, this was not the case and the swift spread across the globe turned the world upside down in a matter of days. Such is the case with Leket. Yes, we took precautions early on, asking staff not to come to work if they were feeling ill, we stopped shaking hands as instructed, but the real change occurred when we understood that the Coronavirus would affect our daily operations in a very significant way. We quickly realized that the hotels and corporate cafeterias would close down, and the IDF would change its practices, leaving Leket with no sources to rescue surplus meals. All of this led to the immediate decision to start purchasing meals, to compensate for the meals we lost. In order to make this decision we needed leadership, a leadership that is not afraid to take calculated risks. We are truly blessed that we have a strong and quality management team that is dedicated, and knows how to work together. Making these decisions together required commitment from the entire team, from operations to fundraising and to develop a collective understanding and belief that we would be able to manage the crisis and perhaps even create opportunities to our advantage.
We set an initial goal to raise $1.75 million for meal purchase hoping that we could achieve it. The goal was based on the cost of delivering meals to 10,000 people for 5 weeks. Why 5 weeks? This was the prevalent understanding at the time of the immediate need, after which we were hoping that the government would designate funds to help. As we understood it, it would take the government time to mobilize and this five-week buffer was what the nonprofit sector could expect to take upon itself during that period of the crisis.
Another factor that shaped the initial goal was the realization that since the Coronavirus is a global crisis and not just effecting Israel, we could not expect to receive the same level of support we would normally receive when Israel is the only one suffering. Therefore, recruiting local support would require significant attention and funding from our Israeli supporters. We explained to our donors that the emergency project would not produce revenue for Leket. We raised money to cover the cost of the meals and took upon ourselves all of the logistical expenses. This is the definition of a strong partnership. We understand that it does not only fall on our supporters to contribute, but we ourselves were ready to make the required adjustments to take on some of the burden. I believe that this transparency resonated well with our supporters, as the cost of the logistics is an annual fixed expense for Leket, assuming we have the funds, which thankfully, we currently do. This way, the only thing we asked of our donors was to contribute the “extra” cost. Within three weeks, we reached our goal, and we were able to increase our goal and output as the need continues to grow.
Israel, as the rest of the world, will soon face an economic crisis. Within a month, unemployment rose from 4.3% to over 26%, not including small business owners and others who are still not eligible for any benefits. Our need continues to grow and although we are seeing a slow return to work and more businesses are now reopening, the Governor of the Bank of Israel recently shared in an interview, that unemployment in Israel would only return to the level prior to the Corona pandemic, at the end of 2021.
The impact of the Coronavirus will be long lasting, even if the virus itself is hopefully defeated soon. We at Leket will continue to do what we can, and a little more, in order to lessen the burden for those that need our support. We will do it in partnership with anyone who wants to work with us, shoulder to shoulder, and with a strong and committed team of staff and volunteers.