BSST’s grant criteria have evolved over the lifetime of the organisation, they are not set in stone and we try to ensure that they are always applied flexibly and pragmatically. We feel it appropriate to provide this guidance for the assistance of our grant applicants; it may also be of interest to our potential funders.
We emphasise that what follows is intended to be guiding principles – not a straitjacket.
Our overall grant-giving policy:
- We assist projects within Israel (inside the ‘Green Line’) and Palestine (currently the ‘Occupied Territories’ i.e. the West Bank including East Jerusalem and Gaza).
- We focus on groups that make it central to their purpose to challenge oppression, injustice and disadvantage, and that are committed to a just resolution of the conflict in Israel/Palestine based on equality and mutual respect between all communities there.
- We help groups that target human rights (including women’s rights; children’s rights; rights relating to sexuality), and those groups engaged in projects concerning education, health, social care, the environment, inter-communal cooperation, anti-poverty, culture and sport.
- We assist regardless of ethnicity or religion, giving grants to Palestinians within the Occupied Territories and Israel, Israeli Jews in Israel, and other communities in Israel such as African refugees and migrant workers from around the world.
- We are particularly keen to assist groups tackling difficult and contentious issues and new and developing projects that may be overlooked by major funders.
BSST considers the above to be grant-giving guidelines rather than criteria. Some of the matters we take into account to help us decide who to fund are:
- ANNUAL TURNOVER: BSST aims to focus on small to smallish organisations, tending not to fund those with annual budgets over £250,000, though we may waive this requirement if there are special reasons to assist (e.g. a hugely worthwhile cause or a serious shortage of other finance).
- ACCESS TO OTHER FUNDING: We like to know our small grants are making as much difference as possible. We are very pleased when we see that the projects we help are able to secure other funding as well; however, we do need to review the nature and scale of such other funding, to ensure that BSST’s funding is likely to make a significant difference.
For example, if a project receives government funding (from Israeli national or local sources, from foreign governments or from organisations such as the UN or the EU), we are unlikely to provide support, as the project is likely to proceed in any event, and BSST funding would probably be marginal and easily replaced. Similarly, if a group has managed to secure significant funding from one or more ‘mainstream’ trusts, we generally conclude that BSST’s small grants are unlikely to make a significant difference. However, with the flexibility that we always apply, we may find exceptions to this approach.
- GRASSROOTS ORGANISATIONS: BSST seeks to assist local groups that are seeking creative and, hopefully, sustainable solutions to the needs of their community. We fund projects that are initiated in Israel/Palestine by groups that will themselves undertake the work required.
However, we do recognise that local groups sometimes lack the home grown expertise to enable them to fulfil their aims. In such instances, we may welcome genuine partnerships between a local group and an external organisation that can provide specialist knowledge and skills.
- REPEAT GRANTS: BSST will sometimes make repeated grants to an organisation, but we only make one grant to an organisation in any 12-month period. Our decisions whether or not to award a grant are not affected by whether we have previously awarded a grant.
- PHILOSOPHY: We fund a wide range of projectswithin our overall grant-giving policy;they need not address overriding issues relating to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. For example, we help projects that tackle violence against women in Palestinian communities in Israel.In this case we assist where we are satisfied the project is concerned with relevant issues (in this instance, women’s rights, human rights, oppression and injustice).
We are unlikely to support projects which start from the assumption that the problems in Israel/Palestine are caused solely by poor communications and insufficient contact between the communities. We will definitely fund projects which improve inter-communal communications and contact as part of their remit, but not those that see this as the core of the solution to Israeli/Palestinian conflict and do not acknowledge the fundamental imbalance in power between Israelis and Palestinians. In this regard, we find helpful the ideas set out below, which were contained in an application to BSST from a Palestinian project within Israel:
‘(Most) coexistence projects … are initiated and presided over by foreign organisations, or by Israeli Jewish NGOs. The Palestinian partners often come to the project already ‘inferior’ – expected to participate as equal partners, but without any recognition of the inequalities of wealth, resource allocation and political power suffered by the Arab population. Frequently, both sides of the project overtly or subconsciously perceive the Jewish participants as being stronger and the initiators, and the Arab participants as weaker participants.
(This project, by contrast,) is an entirely Arab initiative, which will take place in an Arab institution, in an Arab city. It will promote an important message among both the Arab and Jewish populations of the area: the Arab population … will see that peace initiatives do not have to be viewed with cynicism or scepticism; that they can and should be run at the initiative of Arabs; and that in such projects Arab citizens should accord themselves respect and should expect it from their Jewish partners. Among the Jewish population, it will help dispel the dangerous idea that Israeli Arabs are uniformly hostile to the State of Israel and uninterested in peace, and will help instil respect for Arab history, culture and rights, on an equal footing with that accorded to Jews.’
- LONGSTANDING RELATIONSHIPS: BSST works with some local organisations over a long period. Some organisations grow and are able to fund themselves; for others the nature of their work means that, even as they grow and become stronger, they continue to need our support. Many such organisations are doing very valuable work and fit our philosophy very closely and we welcome the opportunity to form longstanding relationships with them.