The first Hovevei Zion ("Lovers of Zion") organizations had been established in 18811882 with the aim of furthering Jewish settlement, particularly agricultural settlement in Eretz-Israel. The groups varied not only in size but in their activity. Some were interested in philanthropic work while others were intent on immigration to Eretz-Israel.
From its inception, the Hovevei Zion groups in Russia sought to erect a countrywide legally recognized framework. After arduous negotiations, in which the authorities demanded that the society be set up as a charitable body, its establishment was approved, early in 1890, as "The Society for the Support of Jewish Farmers and Artisans in Syria and Eretz-Israel," which came to be known as "The Odessa Committee."