With years of experience supporting social programs and humanitarian causes, Eitan Neishlos firmly believes that modern philanthropy can better help those in need by blending the old school with new-age solutions.
Traditional philanthropy is often recognised as writing cheques, financial pledges and fundraising drives. But when Neishlos gives back to his community, his priority is to ensure that support is coming through in a constant and reliable fashion.
“There’s a couple of important underlying [philanthropy] principles. The first is that I think about it in partnership terms,” Neishlos said.
“I think philanthropy can be more effective with partnerships. I also like to think about it in terms of annuity and sustainability.
“Very often people focus on ad-hoc donations, but I am very much keen on finding solutions that provide annuity – or charitable income – which is sustainable.
Neishlos said there are several ways to achieving these goals.
“They can be achieved by giving your time, they can be achieved by giving empathy, and achieved by giving money. People tend to focus on giving their money more than their time and empathy, but I really think each one is equally important,” he said.
Neishlos is certainly no stranger to financially supporting worthwhile causes. This year alone, with the support of his loving partner Lee Levi, he provided much-needed funds to launch ‘Unity’. Unity is an exhibition, currently open, dedicated to the life and legacy of the late hero Israeli Prime Minister and Nobel Prize peacemaker Yitzhak Rabin.
“We’ve done the New York Now project with the Sydney Opera House and that was to support artists during COVID-19. Then there is Know My Name initiative. The whole idea of that was to increase the representation of artists who identify as female – it’s going to reach 1,500 locations,” he said.
Neishlos also provides generously to Jewish youth centres and helped unlock a rich trove of Jewish history this year; his backing helped to digitise over 200,000 pages of Australian Jewish newspapers across 180 years, which will be fully available for public consumption.
His financial contributions are only equalled by his physical commitments. Neishlos was recently appointed to Chairman of Courage to Care, a social advocacy organisation designed by the Jewish community to create awareness of the dangers of prejudice, racism and discrimination while educating people to be ‘upstanders’, not bystanders.
He also gives his time as an executive of the Jewish board of deputies.
Neishlos said that another key consideration for successful philanthropy is the power of the collective.
“We cannot expect people to give an $18,000 or $180,000 dollar pledge, but maybe we can ask them to give $18 a month, and maybe we can ask them to give a little bit of their time a month,” he said.
“And this is the power of the collective – if we can get 1,000 people to give that $18 a month, or more, then maybe you can raise that 180,000 or more a year, and that is very significant for an organisation.”
Despite the success Neishlos has had with his philanthropic practices and ideals, he said that there are many who still consider it a game-changing innovation and, much to detriment of causes in need, are yet to adopt this approach.
“Annuity and sustainability is so, so important, because with them a program can last,” Neishlos said.
“Versus a corporate entity or the Government issuing one cheque and saying ‘I can support it for X amount of years’, and then it just dies. That independence and ability to control your destiny is just so important.”
Yet Neishlos is quick to point out that traditional philanthropy still has a place in society – large singular financial contributions are still worthwhile but are no longer the only way of doing things.
“The old-fashioned way [of philanthropy] still works – it’s not that it’s not working – but sometimes it can reach an end of life. So that’s where it is important to layer with the new-age solutions,” he said.
“When it comes to corporate philanthropy, it’s not just about writing a cheque in my opinion – it’s thinking about how your business can provide solutions.
“I think we can all tap into our resources smartly. Not everyone can give money. Not everyone can give, and not everyone can give business resources. We find where our strengths are, and we push those strengths through.”