Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions and Terms and Conditions of Direct Deposit

  1. What is direct deposit and how does it work?
  2. What are the benefits to receiving your grants from PEF via direct deposit?
  3. What exchange rate is used to convert the USD grant to NIS?
  4. Where do I find the IBAN of my NIS account?
  5. Why do I need to upload a copy of a check from my NIS account?
  6. We received an email that MASAV direct deposit registration was approved. Does this mean that we should expect to see a deposit in our account in the coming days?
  7. We are aware that a grant was approved and is on its way to me. When can I expect to see the funds in my account?
  8. We are looking for the deposit in our bank account. How does the deposit line appear in our bank statement?
  9. We see the deposit. How was the NIS amount calculated?
  10. To whom do we make out the receipt and in what currency?
  11. Is our bank going to charge us for receiving the MASAV deposit?
  12. Is there a benefit to opening an account directly with Clearshift?
  13. Can I receive a direct deposit grant in US dollars?
  14. How does a charity register with PEF?
  15. How do I update/change a charity’s bank information?

General Questions (see also our Terms & Conditions)

  1. Who is PEF?
  2. How do I make a contribution?
  3. How long does it take for a contribution to be processed?
  4. What percentage of a donor advised contribution reaches the intended recipient organization?
  5. Does PEF accept non-cash contributions?
  6. What is PEF’s charity approval process and does it fulfill the requirements of an equivalency determination?
  7. How do donors select an appropriate Israeli charity to recommend?
  8. Does PEF comply with relevant provisions of the Patriot Act and anti-terrorist list review process?
  9. Does PEF have a standard or sample grant agreement?
  10. Do I need to have an endowment fund at PEF in order to make a contribution?
  11. What are the requirements and advantages of having an endowment fund at PEF?
  12. How are donor advised endowment funds managed?
  13. What percentage of my contribution is allocated for overhead?
  14. How does an Israeli charity apply for a grant from PEF?
  15. Why $25 minimum?
  16. Can we send your recommended grant via wire transfer?
  17. Does PEF accept credit cards?
  18. Why is PEF not rated or negatively rated by some charity rating organizations?
  19. Does PEF accept donations via wire transfer?

What is direct deposit and how does it work?

PEF has updated its grant distribution process. Instead of USD checks sent by mail, amutot will have their funds deposited in NIS directly to their Israeli bank account. If you are an Israeli charity that has already registered with PEF please contact us directly for Direct Deposit registration information. First you will need to register for access to the www.pefisrael.net website where you’ll be able to see your gifts and grants.Then you’ll see a link to register for Masav – direct deposit. You will need to provide your Israeli bank account information. Please make sure you have the IBAN for your NIS account as well as a scan/photo of a check from the account. Once you sign up for the direct deposit system, all grants will be sent via direct deposit and in NIS. We are no longer issuing grants in US dollars.

PLEASE NOTE: As of June 2017 all charities need to sign up for Direct Deposit in order to be registered with PEF.

What are the benefits to receiving your grants from PEF via direct deposit?

    1. Speed – As compared to checks which take time to arrive from the US and take time to clear after being physically deposited at your branch, direct deposits will be available in your account immediately.
    2. Certainty – The reliability and safety of the international postal system is one less thing to worry about when funds are deposited electronically into your account.
    3. Savings – The cost of depositing a foreign check (or receiving a foreign wire) and converting it to NIS varies from one organization to another, but it is not unusual that the banks can take as much as 1.5% in various fees and rate markups.

What exchange rate is used to convert the USD grant to NIS?

Our financial services provider in Israel has committed to PEF that the exchange rate will always be based on the Bank of Israel official daily rate, known as the “Sha’ar Yatzig”, on the date of the exchange. That rate can always be verified on the Bank of Israel web site: www.boi.org.il. The effective rate you receive will be around 0.3% below the official rate.

Why is there a fee for the conversion and delivery of the grant funds?

While PEF does not charge any fee for processing and delivering the grant, we do pass on to our grantees the standard fee charged by Clearshift, our financial services provider in Israel. Their fee of 0.25% (plus VAT) is deducted from each transfer. There is no “hidden fee” in the exchange rate because, unlike the banks, the exchange rate will always be exactly the official rate with no markup.

For individual grants of $125k and above, Clearshift automatically provides a tiered discounted fee such that a single grant of $250k will result in a discount of 10%, 35% on $500k and 50% on $1mm. Single grants of $1mm will use the same sliding scale and will actually see discounts greater than 50%.

For more information on Clearshift Services see:

Clearshift Profile  and  Clearshift – Nonprofits

Where do I find the IBAN of my NIS account?

You can get the IBAN (International Bank Account Number) from your bank, either by logging on to their online banking website or by contacting your branch directly.

Why do I need to upload a copy of a check from my NIS account?

The check is used to verify your bank account number and ensure that the transfers are made correctly. If you don’t have a check for the account, you can upload either a bank statement or other document from the bank showing the name on the account, the amutah ID and the branch and account numbers.

We received an email that MASAV direct deposit registration was approved. Does this mean that we should expect to see a deposit in our account in the coming days?

No. Your registration is not connected to any specific grant. The next time a grant is made to you, it will be made via a MASAV deposit. You will receive an email notice on the day the deposit appears in your account, which will include the relevant details of the grant but NOT the list of gifts and donors relevant to the grant. For that information you’ll need to login to your online account.

We are aware that a grant was approved and is on its way to me. When can I expect to see the funds in my account?

Grants approved each week are typically funded on Friday and converted the following Monday, with the MASAV deposits being made overnight on Tuesday. The grant will be dated Friday but you should see the funds in your account on the following Wednesday morning.

We are looking for the deposit in our bank account. How does the deposit line appear in our bank statement?

The deposit will be in NIS and be in the name of our Israeli trustee Mishmeret.

We see the deposit. How was the NIS amount calculated?

You will receive an email notification from Clearshift showing the exchange rate and the calculation of the NIS amount deposited.

PLEASE NOTE: The Clearshift email notification DOES NOT PROVIDE DETAILS REGARDING THE GIFTS. YOU MUST ALWAYS GO TO AND LOG INTO THE ONLINE LEDGER FOR THE DETAILS.  The purpose of the notification is to tell you that the funds have arrived – IT DOES NOT CONTAIN GIFT INFORMATION.

To whom do we make out the receipt and in what currency?

As in the past, the receipt should be made out to PEF Israel Endowment Funds. Your receipt should include the USD amount on the receipt. The receipt should be uploaded to your online account.

In order to upload your receipt please login to your PEF online account and go to your DASHBOARD. There you will see the list of all the grants recently issued to you. Choose the row of the grant for which you have a receipt. At the far right there is a column named “Receipt” – if you click on the link it will allow you to upload the receipt for that grant. Once you have loaded it the symbol will become a check mark indicating that your receipt has been received.

You can upload multiple receipts for each grant (although we strongly prefer only one receipt for each grant) by simply clicking on the “blue arrow” icon and uploading another file. To see all the receipts you have uploaded for a particular grant just click on the “check mark” symbol and you’ll see the list of file names. You can delete any file(s) you see there by clicking on the “X” to the left of the file name.

We ask that you use this method from now on instead of sending us a receipt via mail or email. Please send thank you letters to every donor. But the receipt should only be made out to us.

Is our bank going to charge us for receiving the MASAV deposit?

No. Other than the standard per-statement line charges (usually between 1 and 2 Shekels) that your bank may charge for activity in your account, Shekel deposits through MASAV avoid the foreign currency transaction fees and correspondent fees that are typically charged for wires or check deposits.

Is there a benefit to opening an account directly with Clearshift?

Clearshift does have some incentive and rebate programs for PEF grantees that open an account with Clearshift. Clearshift should be contacted directly for the details.

Can I receive a direct deposit grant in US dollars?

No. Direct deposits are only made in NIS.

How does a charity register with PEF?

If you are a charity in Israel and are interested in registering with PEF, please contact Larisa Vainberg at: documents (at) pefisrael (.) org   You may send your inquiry in Hebrew. All registrations are done via email.

How do I update/change a charity’s bank information?

You need to re-register for direct deposit. Click on Register for Direct Deposit in the menu bar, type in the new IBAN and then click submit. The page will then prompt you to upload a new scanned check. Once your new information has been approved by Clearshift you’ll receive an email notification and your account will become active again.


Who is PEF?

The P.E.F. was established in 1922 by Justice Brandeis, Rabbi Stephen Wise, Robert Szold and a group of distinguished Americans. It was established as Palestine Endowment Funds, Inc. After the founding of the State of Israel its name was changed. No officer or trustee receives compensation or reimbursement for travel to or expenses in Israel, and no fund-raising organization is maintained.

P.E.F. Israel Endowment Funds, Inc. is a registered United States 501(c)(3) charity. We are a fully tax exempt organization. Our tax ID number is 13-6104086. We accept contributions with or without recommendations for specific institutions or purposes in Israel.

PEF provides a means for individuals, foundations and charitable institutions to recommend grants to approved Israeli charities at no expense to the donor. Since our inception we have contributed over $1 billion to registered charities in Israel.

How do I make a contribution?

A donor wishing to make a contribution to an approved charity should send us a check payable to “PEF Israel Endowment Funds, Inc.” and note in the memo portion of the check or include a separate note with recommendation(s) for the use of the funds if applicable. The donor should provide their name and mailing address so that their contribution can be acknowledged. The minimum contribution accepted is $25. Please note that the donor must give us a RECOMMENDATION for the use of the funds, not a directive or an order, otherwise we will be unable to accept the contribution and we will return the check to the donor. When recommending specific charities please include BOTH the name of the charity and its 9-digit ID number. Many charities have the same or similar names. Failure to include the ID number may result in the return of the contribution.

Please make sure that your check is made payable to “PEF Israel Endowment Funds, Inc.” You may not include any other words (such as the name of the charity) on the payee line or else our bank will not accept it and we will have to return the check.

How long does it take for a contribution to be processed?

It takes about 21 business days from the date a contribution check is received and deposited for the money to become available as a grant. Once the money has cleared it is included in our next weekly batch of Direct Deposit grants (typically posted on Fridays) which is usually credited to the charity’s account the following Wednesday. Holidays can be expected to delay the receipt of funds. We do NOT send grants via wire transfer. PEF no longer issues grants in the form of US dollar checks.

In order to keep our overhead low and streamline our processing, we wait until a charity has accumulated at least $500 in contributions before we issue a grant. We do not inform each recipient charitable organization of an impending grant. Donors may contact us directly to inquire about a contribution if they have not received an acknowledgment.

What percentage of a donor advised contribution reaches the intended recipient organization?

100% of contributions received are transferred to the approved charity. PEF does not charge a processing fee and transfers the US dollar amount received directly to the charity. Certain currency conversion and processing fees may be charged by the charity’s Israeli bank beyond the control of PEF.

Does PEF accept non-cash contributions?

PEF accepts cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities. If you wish to make a contribution of stocks or Israel bonds, you should request instructions for making charitable gifts of securities from our staff. In general we do not accept gifts of real estate or works of art. Even if you have given to us before, please make sure that you contact us either by phone or email BEFORE sending us any shares, as our broker information may have changed.

What is PEF’s charity approval process and does it fulfill the requirements of an equivalency determination?

All of the organizations that we fund must first be recognized by The State of Israel as a charitable organization (Amutah). In a separate application to become and to remain approved by PEF, the organization must provide current copies of their Certificate of Amutah, Articles of Association, Section 46 – Public Entity for the Purpose of Donations (when available), Certificate of Financial Accountability, Current Financial Statement and a report in English describing the organization’s activities. Our trustees and friends of PEF are enlisted on a regular basis to make site-visits and to review the activities of our approved organizations.

Equivalency determination (ED) is a process by which a U.S. grant maker evaluates whether an intended foreign grantee is the equivalent of a U.S. public charity. PEF’s approval process is intended to fulfill the requirements of an ED.

Charities interested in registering with PEF should contact Larisa Vainberg at: documents (at) pefisrael (.) org

How do donors select an appropriate Israeli charity to recommend?

P.E.F. has over 1,000 approved charitable organizations that we support in Israel. If you know the name or (amutah) I.D. number of the charity you wish to support you can search by name or number on our Charities tab. If you are interested in a particular area of philanthropy and would like to search for an approved charity in that area, please use the category search. You can also search our charity database by doing a word search. Please note that approved charities are continually being added and removed and we make every effort to update our list on a regular basis but there may be instances where a check is received and in the interim the charity has lost its approved listing. Please also note that a newly approved charity will not appear on our list until it has received grants. If you do not find the charity you are looking for you should contact the PEF office.

At PEF we pride ourselves in our depth of knowledge and first-hand impressions regarding the activities and efficacy of Israeli charities in all areas of interest to the donor. Donors looking for suggestions or feedback regarding the choice of charity to recommend are always welcome to contact our office.

Does PEF comply with relevant provisions of the Patriot Act and anti-terrorist list review process?

PEF follows all recommended best practices from both the IRS and Treasury and in accordance with the Patriot Act to insure that grants made to Israeli charitable organizations are not used to support or fund terrorism.

Does PEF have a standard or sample grant agreement?

As of June 2015 PEF has modified its policy with regard to acceptance of Grant Agreements.

A principal concern with each agreement is that it does not create the perception that the associated grant is an agency transaction which would jeopardize the grant’s eligibility for tax qualification. All grants to PEF must be non-binding, recommended grants. PEF has recently issued Guidelines for Grant Agreements which can be viewed or downloaded here.

When entering into grant agreements with donor foundations, PEF recommends the use of its standard form of Grant Agreement, which is available as a PDF and WORD document. If a donor wishes PEF to consider changes to our standard form of Grant Agreement or to use its own form of grant agreement, PEF will have its counsel review and negotiate the proposed changes or other form of grant agreement and will issue a one-time charge to the donor for the cost of its counsel’s review, which will be deducted from the amount of the donor’s next grant to PEF, as per the donor’s request. This is a one-time charge, and assuming that the donor continues to use the reviewed and approved grant agreement for future recommended grants, there will be no further reviews or legal fees.

Do I need to have an endowment fund at PEF in order to make a contribution?

No. PEF accepts contributions as small as $25 from any donor with a recommendation for an approved charity.

What are the requirements and advantages of having an endowment fund at PEF?

We currently have 90 endowment funds set up with a minimum contribution of $100,000. Together with our general fund, these funds account for $127 million in funds under our management. An annual fee (3/4 of 1%) is deducted from our funds to cover our modest (less than 2% of grants) overhead.

A gift to an endowment fund provides an immediate tax deduction and assures that the funds will ultimately be donated to approved charities in Israel. Donors may authorize family members and/or trustees to provide PEF with recommendations and the funds are invested in accordance with our investment strategy and the oversight of our Investment Committee.

How are donor advised endowment funds managed?

To satisfy its long-term rate-of-return, PEF relies on a total-return strategy in which investment returns are achieved through both capital appreciation (realized and unrealized) and current yield (interest and dividends). PEF targets a diversified asset allocation within prudent risk constraints.

Endowments assets are invested in a manner that is intended to produce results that meet or exceed the five-year consumer price index. Actual returns in any given year may vary from this amount.

What percentage of my contribution is allocated for overhead?

100% of all recommended contributions received are transferred to charities in Israel without any deduction for PEF overhead. Our modest overhead (less than 2% of grants) is covered from an annual fee charged to our donor endowment funds.

How does an Israeli charity apply for a grant from PEF?

There is no form to fill out. An amutah may submit a brief but detailed proposal to the Trustees for their consideration. However, the great majority of requests are not fulfilled. Please do not call to follow up on the status of an application since our staff will not have that information. There will be no reply if you are not awarded a grant. You will be contacted if you receive a grant, but again, very few requests are granted.

We also recommend that you make sure that you are currently registered and in good standing before submitting a proposal. If you are an Israeli charity interested in registering with PEF, please contact Larisa Vainberg at: documents (at) pefisrael (.) org

Why a $25 minimum?

PEF operates with minimal staff and very low overhead in order that we may make contributions to a maximum number of Israeli charities without taking any deductions from the contributions we receive. Accepting contributions of less than $25 is too costly.

Can we send your recommended grant via wire transfer?

As a rule, we do NOT send grants via wire transfer as wire grants require individual attention, extra processing time and a large additional fee from our bank. For grants less than $250,000 there is a $100 fee for sending a grant via wire transfer. There will be an additional $500 charge should we be required to submit any extra documentation to the bank.

Does PEF accept credit cards?

PEF is committed to transferring 100% of a donor’s contribution to the recommended charity and to keeping our overhead to a minimum. Banks charge a credit card processing fee we are unwilling to absorb and hosting a fully functional e-commerce site would entail engaging in retail philanthropy. Fortunately, there are web sites which do accept credit card donations to many Israeli charities.

Why is PEF not rated or negatively rated by some charity rating organizations?

PEF is a unique charitable organization and is not easily categorized. Charity rating services focus exclusively on public charities that provide a charitable service and also use fundraising to finance their activities. Private foundations that do not fundraise are not typically evaluated since they are of no interest to users of charity rating services (i.e. consumers). PEF is that strange specimen that is financed wholly by outside contributions, but does no fundraising! As we were informed by a Senior Program Analyst at Charity Navigator: “We exclude charities that report $0 in fundraising expenses, as we are interested only in charities that actively solicit donations from the general public. PEF Israel Endowment Funds reports $0 in fundraising expenses, and therefore operates differently than those organizations that are listed on our website.” (Click here to go to Charity Navigator and to vote to have them rate P.E.F.)

Does PEF accept donations via wire transfer?

Yes. Please contact us by email (info@pefisrael.org) for details.

We strongly advise donors to ask their bank to include a memo on the transfer slip that identifies them as the donor.

In addition, the donor MUST advise us, (preferably by e-mail to info@pefisrael.org) in writing of the exact amount that they intend to transfer, their recommendation for the use of the funds (i.e. the name of the charity and any special programs to which the funds should be applied), their current mailing address, and when the transfer was made so that we can identify the transfer when it comes in. If we do not have this information from the donor in writing we may not be able to identify or allocate the funds. In other words, if we don’t receive a notification from the donor then the charity won’t receive the funds.