How does one bring the needs of the business community and the general community closer together? How does one create a world of caring and social responsibility? How does one manage to convince as many people as possible to turn giving into a way of life in order to make a change? All of these questions drove Shari Arison to establish the Matan organization in 1998.
Shari Arison's idea was to mobilize the business sector to create a national model of giving and social responsibility by utilizing its power and influence. This was no less than a breakthrough: for the first time in Israel the business sector was mobilized to aid the community in a structured and systematic fashion, not through one-time events, but as part of a comprehensive social program, supported by a unified vision.
The notion of businesses contributing to the community was far from an obvious one at the time, and Shari wished to alter this state of affairs. She based her activities on the model demonstrated by the American United Way organization, which harnesses both company employees and management for joint community activities and contributions.
The Matan slogan, "Investing in the Community," reflects its unique model: helping every business and its employees to find their own special way to give back to the community, and granting them the tools to do so. Businesses and companies throughout Israel are now investing in their communities through Matan, led by CEO Ahuva Yanai, by means of financial resources (such as management and employee contributions and the establishment of various contribution funds), time resources (connecting workers with suitable volunteer opportunities, assistance with professional skills) and donations of products and appliances.
"When I look back" says Shari Arison, "eight years after Matan was established, I can clearly see the amazing strides that have taken place in the business world in respect to philanthropy and giving, especially with initiatives such as Bank Hapoalim's Poalim in the Community Foundation, and it fills me with a great deal of joy and satisfaction"
Jason Arison, the foundation's Chairman and CEO, currently serves on Matan's board of directors.