Most Giving by American Jews Comes from Synagogue Members

SynagoguesKeyArt_MF1Jumpstart, a philanthropic research and design lab based in Los Angeles, will release today Connected to Give: Synagogues and Movements, the latest in the series that offers new insights on religion and American charitable giving. Connected to Give: Synagogues and Movements addresses the extent to which congregational membership, movement identification, and social engagement relate to religious and charitable giving by American Jews.

The key findings include:

  • Most charitable dollars given by Americans Jews go to organizations with Jewish ties, including congregations as well as Jewish organizations pursuing a variety of charitable purposes.
  • In general, membership in a congregation is more closely associated with higher rates of giving to Jewish organizations overall than is identification with a religious movement.
  • 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.
  • In addition to Jewish social engagement, three additional factors are associated with higher giving rates and amounts: specific Jewish motivations to give, social considerations for giving, and the variety of relationships within which American Jews are asked to give.
  • The greater the variety of relationships – familial, professional, and social – within which American Jews are asked to give, the more likely they are to do so, and the more they give.

Summing up the findings, the report’s authors write:

Jewish connectedness, congregational membership, affiliation with Jewish religious movements, and the specific movement with which one affiliates all are highly predictive of American Jewish giving, whether to congregations, Jewish organizations, or non-Jewish organizations. Within and beyond synagogues – within and beyond religious movements – the extent to which people maintain social ties with other Jews strongly associates with whether they give to Jewish organizations and congregations and, more decisively, how much they give. Beyond the overall power of Jewish social networks, an additional connectedness-based factor drives giving: having relationships with people who ask for contributions. All other things being equal, someone who reports that a wider variety of people ask him or her to give is more likely to do so, and more likely to contribute higher amounts.

For additional information on Connected to Give, and to download the various reports, visit (free registration required).

Also see U.S. Jewish Giving: Who is Giving What to Whom, where eJP shares the initial top-level findings and overall narrative that emerges from Connected to Give.

image courtesy Jumpstart