NVIDIA Reverses Course on Donation Matching for Gaza Charities, Causing Internal Rift
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NVIDIA Reverses Course on Donation Matching for Gaza Charities, Causing Internal Rift

More than 60 employees met with senior management after the chipmaker ended automatic matching for several charities in Gaza while still matching donations supporting West Bank settlements, settler militias, and the IDF.

Chipmaker NVIDIA is matching employee donations to charities that support illegal West Bank settlements, settler militias, and the IDF. This became a major issue at the trillion-dollar company involving dozens of employees and senior management, Motherboard has learned, after matching funds destined for charities supporting Palestinians were returned to workers who donated.  

On October 7, Hamas launched an attack on Israel that killed at least 1,139 Israelis, and took about 250 people hostage. NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang sent several emails in the following days expressing support for the company’s Israeli employees. The company acquired Israeli interconnect solutions company Mellanox in 2020 for $6.9 billion and has 3,300 employees in the country, 400 of which are serving in the military, according to an email viewed by Motherboard. One email said that an employee and his girlfriend had been kidnapped by Hamas. Another said that Mellanox founder Eyal Waldman’s daughter had been killed.


The following Friday, Huang sent a company-wide email announcing a special donation initiative. The company would doubly match employee donations in addition to the company’s regular one-to-one matching to approved humanitarian relief organizations through Benevity, a donation and volunteering platform used by other Fortune 500 companies like Starbucks and Visa. 

“NVIDIANs, Israel is suffering devastating and unimaginable casualties,” Huang’s email read in part. “Humanitarian relief efforts are underway, but they need our help. We must help. Donate to support the humanitarian efforts. We will stand with you and turn one dollar into three. For every dollar you donate, our company will match with two.” 

According to two employees Motherboard spoke to, who requested anonymity due to fear of reprisals, workers were troubled in December when the company retracted this special matching for established non-profits helping Palestinians and returned funds to employees via Benevity, citing “increased corporate risk.” The charities in question include Anera, a reputable NGO founded in 1968 that provides aid to Palestinians in Gaza and rebuilds civilian infrastructure destroyed by bombing, and the UN relief agency UNRWA. NVIDIA’s regular donation matching was also removed from these charities, employees said. 


Meanwhile, NVIDIA continued matching donations to U.S. and Israeli groups that are building on West Bank settlements recognized by the UN as illegal under international law, as well as providing material support to the IDF and volunteer settler militias. Motherboard viewed live pages for these organizations on NVIDIA’s charity portal. 

“NVIDIA has been supportive of every cause under the sun,” one employee told Motherboard. “We constantly took pride that NVIDIA does not take sides in any of these conflicts. This feels like a betrayal of what we’re accustomed to.” 

Employees said that the issue is emblematic of how Big Tech companies, for example Google, have struggled to balance employee concerns around Israel-Palestine in recent months. Huang, the CEO, has interacted with the employees on the issue in emails viewed by Motherboard, including one message where he wrote that NVIDIA “cannot risk donating to foundations that will not use the money productively” and that the “company must exercise an abundance of caution.” 

Last week, a meeting was held in which company executives addressed a group of more than 60 workers. Employees said they appreciated NVIDIA leadership’s engagement but were not satisfied with the meeting’s conclusion, and believe that there remains a path forward for workers and management to come to a resolution. 


Do you work at a tech company that uses Benevity? Do you have more information about donations to Israel and Gaza? We’d love to hear from you. From a non-work phone or email, you can contact Jules Roscoe at jules.roscoe@vice.com or on Signal at (415) 763-7705 for more security.

One group that has continued to receive matched donations is the Fund for the Development of the Binyamin Region and Settlements, which supports development in a collection of 46 Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The fund builds synagogues and mikvahs, and also supports “IDF soldiers serving in the Binyamin region and out of it.” It’s currently raising funds for “helmets, bullet proof vests, radios, night vision scopes and thermal drones, as well as tactical medical equipment” for a “standby squad” in the settlement of Talmon, which is “comprised of highly trained IDF reserve duty soldiers, who have been working 24/7 since the war broke out to ensure the safety of the communities from the hostile Arab villages surrounding us.”

So-called standby squads are volunteer settler militias that have expanded chaotically since Oct. 7, and are supplied weapons and equipment by the IDF. Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported in late November that some regions are effectively ruled by these militias, which have become “wilder than ever” since the war began. Members of these groups frequently menace nearby Arab communities, descending at night to destroy property, sometimes “hold a gun to a child’s head,” and demand that residents vacate in 24 hours. 


Another group NVIDIA matched donations to is AFINS, or American Friends of Israel Navy SEALs. The organization works with the Israel-based Atalef Foundation to support veterans of Israel’s elite SEAL teams and their families. A section on AFINS’ website called “Wartime Impact” describes how the group has collected “reserve-duty gear” to distribute to SEALs deployed in Israel’s siege on Gaza after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, in addition to items like phone chargers and blankets. 

It’s unclear how much money NVIDIA has sent these groups and others via its matching program. Motherboard sent NVIDIA a detailed list of questions and only received a short statement in response. “NVIDIA supports employee charitable giving through our longstanding matching program, which is providing aid to dozens of humanitarian aid groups in Israel and Gaza, as well as elsewhere,” an NVIDIA spokesperson said in their statement.

U.S.-based NVIDIA is one of the world’s most important companies, making everything from consumer graphics cards to the kind of high-end chips that power the most powerful AI systems. In October, a group of over 60 employees of varying seniority organized a campaign for the company to double-match donations to Anera, which an employee told Motherboard had previously been approved for company donation matching after the Beirut Port explosion in 2020. They also sent an email to Huang about their concerns. 


Two employees told Motherboard that these concerns included the tone of Huang’s emails, which initially did not reference Palestinian losses. So far, Israel has killed more than 25,000 Palestinians in Gaza, two-thirds believed to be women and children. Settlements in the West Bank have also seen their share of violence; Israeli forces recently killed three Palestinian protesters after soldiers opened fire on a crowd that Israel claims was throwing bricks and fire bombs. 

Anera was approved for the special matching program, and the campaign raised $407,183 from employee donations and company matching. $157,495 of that was donated by NVIDIA, according to a screenshot. Huang’s subsequent communications also referenced both Israel and Gaza. “Some want to donate to Israel’s relief efforts, while others want to help innocent Palestinians,” he wrote in an October 23 email. “You decide to support humanitarian efforts in Israel, Gaza, or both. We will support you however you choose and double-match your donation.” 

On December 24, NVIDIA announced that it had raised over $15 million from employee donations. It stated that employees had chosen to donate to organizations including Doctors Without Borders and World Central Kitchen, which are active in Gaza, as well as Israel-focused charities JGive, American Friends of Magen David Adom, Friends of United Hatzalah, IsraAID Global Humanitarian Assistance, Jewish Agency for Israel, and Zaka. The announcement did not list any charities solely focused on providing aid to Palestinians. 


“I was receiving messages from a lot of friends saying, ‘Where were you when your company was donating $15 million to one side of this conflict? Have you guys not had conversations internally?’” an employee told Motherboard. “I thought we were being heard. But it seems like we [weren’t].”

In December, employees noticed that their donations to Anera were not being doubly matched as had been promised. Rather, the extra money was deposited back into their own Benevity accounts. 

“They deposited the same amount into our rewards,” another employee said. “I can give it away to any organization, including Anera, but I think in principle what really [concerns us] is the promise to match that.” 

When an employee asked human resources about this, they were told that some organizations had been determined to present “increased corporate risk to NVIDIA” after an investigation and were no longer eligible for any donation matching. These organizations were Anera, the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF), Islamic Relief USA, and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Motherboard viewed documentation that confirmed these organizations were ineligible.

In late December, The Times of Israel reported that the Israeli government planned to remove UNRWA’s presence from Gaza in a multi-step plan that included associating the group—which provides aid and education in the strip—with Hamas. Israel has long accused UNRWA of perpetuating the conflict and encouraging anti-Israel sentiment in education materials. UNRWA has faced criticism from pro-Israel groups for teaching the curriculum of the Palestinian Authority, in keeping with the organization’s policy of using the host nation’s curriculum. The curriculum reportedly encourages Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation and glorifies martyrs who have been designated as terrorists by the UN. 

Organizations that continued to be eligible for donation matching, even after the special double matching period ended, included Doctors Without Borders as well as numerous organizations that support the Israeli Defense Force and fund the building of settlements in the West Bank. 

Besides those previously mentioned, there is Lev Echad, whose mission is described on Benevity as being to “help IDF soldiers, support lined soldiers, equipments for soldiers in different bases during missions and war.” Another organization’s page is titled “Amutat binyan chadash in Kiryat Netafim,” whose mission statement on Benevity is to “build a synagogue in Kiryat Netafim in the land of Israel.” Kiryat Netafim is a settlement in the northern West Bank, near the city of Ariel. 

All of these groups are eligible for full donation matching by NVIDIA, according to documentation viewed by Motherboard. Additionally, a search on the NVIDIA Benevity platform observed by Motherboard for organizations in Israel supporting the IDF yielded 109 results, many of which offered donation matching by the company.

“These organizations are not just supplying aid, they have some operations in settlements,” one employee said. “That does not help the humanitarian crisis at all.”