Study finds American Jews among most generous to both secular and Jewish causes
The first comprehensive nationwide study of Jewish and religious giving, “Connected to Give,” finds that social engagement with Jewish community is a key predictor of giving to all causes, not just Jewish ones
Jumpstart released Connected to Give: Key Findings Today, the first in a series of reports detailing the giving habits and motivations of American Jews across all ages, economic groups and geographies. Findings are based on a survey of nearly 3,000 American Jewish households plus 2,000 households from other religious groups, as well as qualitative data from focus groups and ethnographic research.
“Conventional wisdom says that fundraising from Jewish donors is a zero-sum competition, with Jewish and secular causes fighting over smaller pieces of a shrinking pie,” said Shawn Landres, co-founder of Jumpstart, the philanthropic research and design lab that spearheaded the project. “Connected to Give challenges that assumption and shows us that the stronger a person’s Jewish community connections, the more she or he gives to all causes, and the larger the pie becomes.”
The research team for Connected to Give includes the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, GBA Strategies, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion faculty—including Professor Steven M. Cohen, and researchers from Fordham University. Indiana’s approach and methodology is considered the gold standard in philanthropy research, and Cohen is widely regarded as one of the field’s leading researchers in Jewish demography and identity.
According to Jeffrey R. Solomon, president of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Foundation, and co-founder of Connected to Give, the report offers critical new insight on Jewish giving. “This has never been done before,” he said. “We’ve been dependent on anecdotal experience and assumptions about comparisons with research on other donors to different organizations. This is the first-ever scientific study of Jewish philanthropic behavior across the board,” said Solomon.
“This research has the potential to transform the way we look at charitable giving by religious households,” said Professor Una Osili, director of research at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. “Connected to Give documents the significance of religious identity not just for giving to religious purposes, but also for giving to secular purposes, such as basic needs, health care, and the environment.”
Osili also noted that Connected to Give challenges expert assumptions about which Jewish donors drive the results. “Few would have expected that the lowest-income Jewish households play an important role in charitable giving. These and other findings open important new questions about how we understand religion and charitable giving,” she said.
The next in the series of Connected to Give reports will focus on planned giving, with subsequent reports planned on congregational giving, giving circles, and more.
Connected to Give is funded and led by a national collaborative consortium of more than a dozen independent, family and community foundations and organizations.