A donation for a red carpet

By Dubby Arbel, CEO of Midot
d"What? You’re going to buy an expensive red carpet with the money I donated to you? And decorative cushions? Have you lost your minds?"d
That’s how a donor reacted when he was told how they planned to use his donation to the Desert Shanti House Youth Village – a shelter and support framework for youth who have been assaulted or neglected, and who have nowhere else to go.d
It is a widespread myth in the third sector that NPOs have to be run in a spirit of miserliness. Sometimes, the over-frugality that donors demand of NPOs can make them less effective and less likely to achieve results. The example of the Desert Shanti House Youth Village is a case in point. Mariuma Ben-Yosef has been working with homeless and at-risk youth for decades. In 1984 she established the Shanti House in Tel Aviv, where over the years she cared for hundreds of youths who were at immediate risk of being sucked into violence, sexual exploitation and criminality. So as to provide help for at-risk youth in the south of Israel as well, Ben-Yosef set up the Desert Shanti House Youth Village, which became operational about two years ago. d
Mariuma believes that choosing to come to the Shanti House instead of homelessness, drugs and violence is to choose life. In Mariuma’s eyes, whoever chooses life is a prince or princess, and princes and princesses should live in a palace – no more, no less. Therefore, the Desert Shanti House was built like a real palace, certainly if you compare it with other types of sheltered accommodation. They may live five to a room, but each young person has their own top-quality bed, their own cupboard, and clean sheets. The kitchen has all the latest gadgets, and the food that is served up there would give the best restaurants a run for their money. There is a billiard table and a library on site, the architecture is breathtaking, and the construction is of the highest standard, including artistic mosaics and designer sinks.d
All this reflects not only the outward appearance, but also a worldview about the youths who live there. For some of them, this is the first time they have seen clean, pleasant and dignified living conditions. When you take a closer look at the Desert Shanti House, it transpires that the extraordinary investment in creating a palace has been extraordinarily effective. As Ben-Yosef predicted, when a young person arrives at the house, he takes in the quality and the investment with wonderment, asking, “All this is for me? For me?"d
From this moment on the youngster feels respected as he has never been respected in the past. He feels obligated to respond with gratitude. The need to kick out, to rebel, and to be angry is dulled. Sometimes it even disappears altogether. In fact, half of the work with these youths is complete from the moment they cross the threshold. The Desert Shanti House Youth Village thus increases its chances of saving those who arrive at its gates. There is a greater chance that, in the future, they will find a suitable framework, that they will live a normal life, that they will be productive, have a family, contribute to their community, and even acquire an education.d
All this happens thanks to the enormous financial investment in an exhilarating physical infrastructure. Commercial enterprises measure their investments in terms of results – a $1m investment in advertising will not be considered misplaced if it yields a profit of $10m. Likewise, in the social field, the main parameter for evaluating donors’ financial contributions and the success of NPOs’ activities should be their success, or in other words, a positive impact on the beneficiaries. Even if sometimes this means building a castle for children.d

http://www.midot.org.il/A donation for a red carpet