A new 80/40 rule? 79% of Jewish household giving to Jewish organizations comes from the 38% of Jews who are synagogue members

(Los Angeles, CA) The newly issued report Connected to Give: Synagogues & Movements demonstrates that most giving by American Jews goes to organizations with Jewish ties, including congregations as well as Jewish-identified nonprofit organizations. The new report, co-authored by Dr. Steven M. Cohen and Dr. Shawn Landres and issued by Jumpstart, breaks down giving patterns among Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Jews, and offers key insights for organizations and fundraisers into how Jewish practice and identity shapes charitable giving.

“No matter what you’ve heard, Jews still primarily donate to Jewish causes,” said Landres, CEO & Director of Research at Jumpstart, which has spearheaded Connected to Give. “This report documents for the first time where exactly Jewish charitable dollars go. It’s striking that even beyond congregations, Jewish households give just as much to Jewish nonprofits as to non-Jewish ones.”

Among American Jewish households, donations to congregations represent about 23% percent of charitable giving. Donations to Jewish-identified non-profit organizations comprise another 39%, for a combined 61% of household charitable dollars going towards organizations with Jewish ties. In comparison to other Americans, Jews give a smaller share to congregations and a slightly larger share to non-religious non-profits.

While giving overall is similar among synagogue members who affiliate with the three largest American Jewish religious movements, the findings show that Orthodox Jews who are synagogue members donate to congregations and Jewish nonprofits at a higher rate than Conservative Jews who are synagogue members, who in turn give more to congregations and Jewish nonprofits than their Reform counterparts. However, religious movement identification is not as strong a determinant of giving as is overall Jewish connectedness.

“Giving to Jewish causes is highly related to Jewish social connections,” said Cohen. “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.”

The study also showed that membership in a congregation is more closely associated with higher rates of giving to Jewish organizations overall than is identification with a religious movement—but identification with a Jewish religious movement is associated with higher giving rates and amounts, especially by those who are not synagogue members, and especially to Jewish organizations. Jews who neither are synagogue members nor have religious movement identities display relatively low levels of Jewish social engagement, far lower than Reform Jews, who reported the lowest levels of Jewish social engagement of the three major American religious movement populations.

Connected to Give: Synagogues & Movements is the fourth in a series of reports based upon the wealth of data drawn from the National Study of American Jewish Giving and the National Study of American Religious Giving. The Connected to Give series is funded and led by a national collaborative consortium of more than a dozen independent, family and community foundations and organizations. Partners to date include the Andrea & Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, Emanuel J. Friedman Philanthropies, Harold Grinspoon Foundation, Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego/Leichtag Foundation Partnership, Koret Foundation, Lippman Kanfer Family Foundation, Marcus Foundation, Joseph Meyerhoff and Rebecca Meyerhoff Awards Committee, Jack and Goldie Wolfe Miller Fund, The Morningstar Foundation, The Natan Fund, Rose Community Foundation (Denver), Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and Birthright Israel NEXT. Additional support was provided by Mandell Berman.

Connected to Give: Synagogues & Movements is available for download at http://www.connectedtogive.org. “Like” Connected to Give on Facebook.

Jumpstart is a 501(c)(3) philanthropic research & design lab based in Los Angeles.  Jumpstart’s unique combination of research, convenings, and funding enables creative changemakers—philanthropists and institutional leaders alike—to realize their own visions and advance the common good. Jumpstart’s innovative approach to analysis and forecasting, through such publications as The Innovation Ecosystem and The Jewish Innovation Economy, has earned international recognition. For further information, please visit http://jumpstartlabs.org or email connect@jumpstartlabs.org. Follow us on Twitter or “Like” us on Facebook.


Josh Kamensky

Joshua Avedon


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