Study: Most Jewish charitable giving goes to Jewish groups

January 16

WASHINGTON — Amid lingering concern that American Jews are disconnecting from Jewish institutions, a new report shows that most Jewish charitable giving goes to organizations with Jewish ties.

“No matter what you’ve heard, Jews still primarily donate to Jewish causes,” said Shawn Landres, a co-author of the “Connected to Give: Synagogues and Movements” report, which was sponsored by a coalition of Jewish philanthropic organizations.

“It’s striking that even beyond congregations, Jewish households give just as much to Jewish nonprofits as to non-Jewish ones,” said Landres, who called the report the first to document where Jewish charitable dollars go.

Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of dollars donated by American Jews goes to Jewish institutions. Breaking down the total: 23 percent goes to congregations, 39 percent goes to Jewish nonprofits, and 39 percent goes to other nonprofits. (Due to rounding, the total does not add up to 100 percent.)

Jewish Americans give a much smaller proportion of their total giving to congregations (23 percent) than do Americans in general (41 percent). But American Jews give a slightly higher portion to Jewish-related nonprofits (39 percent) than Americans in general give to religiously oriented nonprofits (32 percent.)

Jews affiliated with the Orthodox, Conservative and Reform movements of Judaism all give at similar rates, and synagogue membership is a better indicator of higher rates of giving to Jewish organizations than is affiliation with a particular movement, the study found.

Though synagogue members represent a minority of adult American Jews (38 percent), they are responsible for 79 percent of all dollars donated to Jewish organizations.

The report is based on the National Studies of American Jewish Giving and American Religious Giving, which polled 2,911 Jewish American households and 1,951 non-Jewish households in early 2013. The margin of error for the percentage of Americans who give is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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