(JTA) — There may be no such thing as a free lunch. But there is a free 10-day trip to Israel.
For 16 years now, the Birthright Israel Foundation has been giving away guided tours of the country to young people from around the world. The goal is to strengthen participants’ Jewish identity and connection to Israel. Tens of thousands of 18-26 year-olds sign up every year to see the highlights with a group of peers.
Someone is paying for all those trips. But who?
Inside Philanthropy, a website that investigates charities, delves into the program’s funding in an article published Tuesday.
Here are some notable numbers from Inside Philanthropy and the Birthright Israel website. Birthright contested some of the numbers in the original Inside Philanthropy article and those changes are reflected below.
$3,000 – Average price of the trip, per person
$47 million – Birthright’s budget in 2015
45,000 – Total participants in 2015
$40 million – Annual contribution by the Israeli government
$50 million – Annual contribution by the organized international Jewish community, including individual donors and Jewish family foundations
30,000 – Number of non-governmental donors (individuals, foundations and institutions) who give to the program each year
$2.5 million – Top annual individual donation
7 – Number of Jewish family foundations who have contributed a million dollars or more in recent years
$200 million – Amount billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam Adelson, have donated since 2009, making them the biggest funders in the program’s history
$2.7 million – Amount raised last year by “direct marketing” initiatives
Over 500,000 – Total number of trip alumni
80,000 – Number of Israelis who have participated in the program
1999 – Year the program was founded
66 – Number of countries represented by participants