Nearly two-thirds of giving by American Jews goes to organizations with Jewish ties, including congregations and Jewish-identified nonprofit organizations, a report from Jumpstart finds.
The report, Connected to Give: Synagogues & Movements (24 pages, PDF), examined giving patterns among American Jewish households and found that nearly 62 percent of their charitable dollars go to organizations with Jewish ties, with roughly 23 percent going to congregations and 39 percent going to Jewish-identified nonprofit organizations — a smaller percentage than non-Jewish Americans give to their congregations (41 percent) and religiously identified nonprofits (32 percent). The report also found that Orthodox Jews who belong to a synagogue donate to congregations and Jewish nonprofits at a higher rate than do Conservative Jews, who in turn give more to congregations and Jewish nonprofits than do their Reform counterparts. However, overall Jewish connectedness — defined by the Connected to Give consortium by family status, proportion of close friends who are Jewish, attendance at Jewish religious services, and whether one volunteers for a charitable or religious organization — is a stronger determinant of giving than identification with the Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform movements.
Funded by the Andrea & Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher and Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family foundations, and others, and based on data drawn from the National Study of American Jewish Giving and the National Study of American Religious Giving, the survey also found that affiliation with one of the three main streams of Jewish thought and belief and membership in a Jewish congregation are both associated with higher levels of giving, whether to synagogues, Jewish organizations, or non-Jewish organizations. Among those who do not belong to a synagogue, identification with one of the three movements is associated with higher rates and amounts of giving, especially to Jewish organizations.
"Giving to Jewish causes is highly related to Jewish social connections," said Steven M. Cohen, a co-author of the report. "The extent to which Jews are connected to other Jews — spouses, friends, and people in the community — is critical. Jewish social connectedness explains the variations in giving across the religious movements, from Orthodox to Conservative to Reform to the non-denominational."