Your Daily Phil: What can Jewish nonprofits learn from the Giving USA report?

Good Monday morning. 

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on Repair the World’s plans to expand its engagement through shorter programs and fewer offices, and feature an opinion piece by Ted Deutch and Dan Elbaum about a partnership aiming to strengthen ties between the rising generation of Israeli and American young adults. Also in this newsletter: Henrietta SzoldJackie Congedo and Anthony Housefather. We’ll start with an interview with Avrum Lapin about the latest Giving USA report.

The annual Giving USA report that was released last week offers insight into the broader trends in philanthropic giving over the past year, with donations up in real terms, but shrinking slightly when adjusted for inflation and with religious causes keeping their place as the most funded recipient of donations, but shrinking. 

But in many ways the Jewish philanthropic sector, which saw a surge in the final quarter of 2023 after the Oct. 7 terror attacks in Israel, was out of step with the broader philanthropic trends. So what if any lessons can Jewish organizations learn from the estimated $557.6 billion that was given to nonprofits in 2023? 

To understand this, eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross sat down last week with Avrum Lapin, the president of the Lapin Group, a fundraising and management consulting firm for nonprofits, who also serves as a board member of the Giving Institute, the organization behind Giving USA and its annual report.

Judah Ari Gross: So what are some of the key takeaways from the Giving USA report, particularly for Jewish organizations?

Avrum Lapin: Giving to religion was always the largest chunk of philanthropy. It still is, but if you look at the Giving USA report, it gives you the 40-year retrospective that shows that giving to religion in 1984, for instance, was about 57% or 58% of the philanthropic dollar. In 2023, it was a little less than half, 24%. And it was 27% in 2022. 

The reason it contracted was it actually increased in current dollars, but because of the impact of inflation, it was counted as a slight decrease. It’s still the single largest [recipient], but… It’s only a matter of time until these other philanthropic destinations overtake religion. And that’s against the backdrop of all these communal issues that we know, in terms of levels of affiliation [with religion], which is not something that affects only the Jewish community. It’s across all faiths and all denominations in American societies…

So it’s not yet clear if [increased engagement and giving to Jewish causes after Oct. 7] may be a blip or if it’s going to last. If things calm down and the antisemitism, in a sense, dies down… would patterns go back. 

JAG: Are there any places where we can see Jewish philanthropy in the Giving USA report?

AL: The JFNA Israel emergency campaign, the more than $800 million are reflected to a large degree in the 2023 Giving USA report, in the public-society benefit column. And they may have created a little bit of a spike, but the numbers are big enough [Ed. note: in total, $62.81 billion was donated to such causes in 2023] that $800 million is not going to change [the overall trend]…

I’m of the mind that strong domestic institutions — strong synagogues, strong community centers — are important to giving to Israel because they’re foundational community institutions. Without the institutions that organize the community domestically, the ability to continue to raise money for Israel is not going to be a strong — that’s just one guy’s opinion. 

But the local institutions need to take this opportunity to see themselves as being foundational in the community and not [go back to] business as usual and make the effort to look at the differences that are out there. One of the things that Jewish community institutions — and institutions outside the Jewish community — did not do or have not done as robustly as they could have done is look over the last few years at generational changes, how people give, how monies are raised and what are the triggers in different generational cohorts. What is a post-Holocaust Jewish donor? How did they give? What are the motivational elements there, for a baby boomer or a millennial or a Gen Xer. The Gen X generation, that’s 45 to 60 years old, they’re the ones that are now emerging into top leadership roles… so they’re the cohort to watch right now. And they give a lot differently than their baby boomer parents.

Their baby boomer parents gave out of obligation. They largely gave to the Jewish community first and then gave to everybody else. For Gen Xers, giving to the Jewish community — as much as they care about the Jewish community — it’s an item on a menu. 

Read the full interview here.


Repair the World shutters 2 offices and its fellowship as it adopts fresh, slimmer approach to widen engagement

Teens from across the country celebrate Opening Session of USY International Convention in Orlando, Fla. with teens from the Metropolitan New York area.

A month ago, Repair the World shuttered two offices in Baltimore and Pittsburgh. The decision was not financial, Eli Greenstein Jacober, senior director of growth strategy for Repair the World, told Jay Deitcher for eJewishPhilanthropy. It was about being “strategically advantageous” when “investing in Jewish service.” The Baltimore and Pittsburgh closures, which left three staff members and three fellows without jobs, are among many changes within the organization, outlined in its new strategic plan.

Getting embedded: Repair is ending its popular fellowship program and growing its Service Corps. As some locations close, others are growing. In communities that no longer have physical locations, the nonprofit will place employees in local Jewish organizations. “Embedding ourselves in an organization enables us to bring service to where Jews are already gathering,” Shana Bloom, chief program officer for Repair the World, told eJP. “We would be able to bring Repair’s expertise and pedagogy and Jewish service to the organization with whom we’re partnering, to impact its constituents, as opposed to having our own infrastructure, staff, and programming alongside or parallel to that organization.”

Shorter, but more: The nonprofit’s two-year full-time fellowship has been an especially fruitful program, with over 280 alumni participating over the 10 years since it launched, many still deeply involved in service. “We’re celebrating all the accomplishments of the fellowships and the impact that they’ve made over the years,” Greenberg said. “It’s bittersweet to be sunsetting the fellowship, and we’re optimistic about the Service Corps and the impact that that’s going to continue to have.” By focusing on a new Service Corps program, which at 10 weeks long is far shorter than the fellowship, Greenberg said they can reach 20 times the number of participants.

Read the full report here.


A partnership for the future of world Jewry

Participant in the American Jewish Committee’s Leaders for Tomorrow program for high school students in an undated photo. Courtesy/American Jewish Committee

“Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion once said: ‘It is not enough to be up to date, you have to be up to tomorrow.’ This means that even amid the unprecedented challenges facing world Jewry in the present, we cannot afford to ignore the monumental test for the Jewish community looming on the horizon: the connection between American Jews and Israel,” write Ted Deutch, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, and Dan Elbaum, head of North America at the Jewish Agency for Israel and president and CEO of Jewish Agency International Development, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Survey says: “The American Jewish Committee’s 2024 Survey of American Jewish Opinion found that 85% of American Jews said it was important for America to support Israel in the wake of Oct. 7, and 57% reported feeling more connected to Israel or their Jewish identity after the Hamas massacre. At the same time, however, many American Jews described their own education about Israel as weak or nonexistent. This matters because those who reported having no formal education about Israel also felt less connected to the Jewish state. In contrast, 62% of those who said they had a strong education about Israel felt more connected since Oct. 7.”

Knowledge and understanding are key: “So, how can we forge more vital, lasting connections? At AJC’s Global Forum 2024 last month, the AJC and the Jewish Agency announced a new partnership to strengthen the ties between young Jewish American leaders and Israeli emissaries. In the short term, it will lead to more informed and passionate advocates for Israel; provide training for shlichim (Israeli emissaries) to better understand the challenges facing Jewish American teens; and foster greater understanding between American Jews and Israelis. In the long term, this partnership has the potential to build lifelong relationships between Israel and the future leaders of American Jewry.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Learning From the Past: In The Times of Israel, Zvi Smith writes about the efforts of a group of clerics, activists and police in Jaffa in the wake of Oct. 7 to prevent an eruption of violence similar to what the city experienced in 2021. “[In May 2021,] Jaffa, along with Israel’s other mixed Jewish-Arab cities, erupted in the country’s worst internecine violence in years. For 11 days, as Hamas rockets rained down and Israeli airstrikes pummeled Gaza, thousands of Arab and Jewish Israelis took to the streets in violent dueling protests that resulted in four deaths, widespread destruction of property, injuries, and scenes of shocking brutality… Jaffa’s Jews and Arabs tend to agree that shock, pragmatism and heavy policing, both by law enforcement and as part of grass-roots monitoring within communities, have been primary factors in avoiding a repeat of May 2021… The local leadership’s efforts to keep the peace continued to bear fruit months into the war. When the imam of a Jaffa mosque chanted a Hamas slogan after prayers one night, he received a call from another imam, saying, ‘This is incitement. God forbid a boy praying by you takes a knife and commits a terror attack.’ The imam apologized and retracted.’” [TOI]

Power of Collaboration: In the Financial Times, Aiden Reiter reports on the phenomenon of funders pooling resources to make larger, coordinated grants while still retaining control over how the money is spent. “According to 2023 research by The Bridgespan Group, since 2010, the number of funder collaboratives with assets larger than $1 million has doubled, with more than $3 billion invested in nonprofits and social movements by 2022. ‘This may be the most significant trend in how philanthropy is operating today, and it holds enormous promise — both for the ways non-profits get funded and for the total amount of philanthropy that gets unlocked,’ says William Foster, managing partner of Bridgespan. But why would philanthropists work together? According to experts, the foremost reason is learning. ‘It is quite lonely being a foundation professional. Being in a funder collaborative gives you colleagues,’ says Beth Breeze, director of the Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent. ‘If you share the burden of grant-making and work together, you can share learnings, new ideas, and the joys of giving.’ Funder collaboratives also allow philanthropists to share the cost of hiring experts and leverage their combined, larger networks to learn about new grantees and methods for impact.” [FinancialTimes]

A Place for Truth-Seekers: In The Atlantic, Eliot A. Cohen reflects on the conclusion of his 42-year career in academia (occasionally interrupted by stints in the U.S. Defense and State Departments). “Harvard formed and launched me; the Naval War College exposed me to America’s senior officer corps and its leadership culture; and Johns Hopkins, where I spent 34 years, gave me the opportunity to teach wonderful students, build a department and become a dean. In all three places, I was given extraordinary freedom to think, write, speak and serve my country, alongside remarkable colleagues, superiors and, above all, students. And yet I leave elite academe with doubts and foreboding that I would not have anticipated when I completed my formal education in 1982… It may be an aging professor’s nostalgia to insist that in the old days, learned giants walked the Earth. But when I think of the men and women who taught me, I cannot help but think that they were a deeper and often wiser group than the norm today. One way or another, as children or adults, as native-born Americans or immigrants from ravaged lands, they had been touched by World War II. They were broadly read and multilingual… They were hardly a humble lot, but by and large they knew how to say ‘I’ve changed my mind’ or even ‘I was wrong about that.’ … There are many thousands of dedicated and capable teachers and scholars out there, no doubt. But I wonder whether in academe overall, the single-minded and inflexible commitment to the value embodied in the mottoes of my two universities — ‘Truth’ and ‘The truth will make you free’ — still stands.” [TheAtlantic]

Around the Web

The Israeli government extended the evacuation orders for communities near the Gaza border and the Lebanese border through Aug. 31…

The condition of an American citizen injured Sunday after the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah fired missiles toward northern Israel is “worsening,” according to the Galilee Medical Center, where he is being treated…

Gavriela Geller will step down as executive director of Jewish Community Relations Bureau | AJC Kansas City, after six years in the role…

In an opinion piece for The Times of IsraelGary Rosenblatt reviews Francine Klagsbrun’s new book, Henrietta Szold: Hadassah and the Zionist Dream

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency visits the “What, me worry?” exhibit about MAD magazine at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass.…

Alisa Koyrakh joins the Harold Grinspoon Foundation as its director of books for PJ Library

The Washington Jewish Week profiles Jeremy Schnittman, a NASA theoretical astrophysicist, as he prepares to participate in the Bike4Chai fundraiser for families of children with illnesses and special needs of Chai Lifeline, as his son, Chaim, attends the organization’s camp for children with pediatric illnesses…

A survivor of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack and another young person who was evacuated from her home are among the 75 emissaries from Israel who are going on shlichut (a mission) as teachers to communities outside of Israel with the World Zionist Movement

A group of 30 Israelis orphaned in the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks and their adopted families have recently returned from a 13-day healing retreat in Mexico arranged as an expression of Jewish solidarity by the Jerusalem-based OneFamily organization in partnership with the Jewish community of Mexico City

Haaretz profiles Mervat Odeh, an Arab Israeli woman who launched a nonprofit, Mandil, which is aimed at raising awareness within her community about the environmental impact of the fashion industry…

Jackie Congedo has been selected as the next CEO of the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center in Cincinnati…

The New York Times examines how British Jews have returned to the Labour Party, which swept last week’s election, after abandoning it as antisemitism ran rampant under Jeremy Corbyn, who was drummed out…

The Capitol Hill office of Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) was vandalized, days after anti-Israel protesters demonstrated outside the home of the Jewish congressman…

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named Anthony Housefather, a member of Canadian parliament, his special adviser on Jewish community relations and antisemitism…

The Cleveland Jewish News interviews Hillel International’s president and CEO, Adam Lehman

A new synagogue opened in the German city of Potsdam, nearly 20 years after the Brandenburg state government signed an agreement with the local Jewish community to build one; the facility will be used by four different congregations…

Paul Kane, a senior vice president of UJA-Federation of New York who is credited with raising billions of dollars throughout his career for Jewish causes, died on Friday; his funeral will be held in Fairfield, Conn., later today…

Dr. Yitzhak (Itzik) Yifat, one of three paratroopers who appeared in an iconic photo taken at the Western Wall after Israel captured it during the 1967 Six-Day Wardied Saturday at 81. Immortalized as the young man in the middle, Yifat later expressed misgivings about the results of the war, which led to Israeli military rule over the Palestinians…

Prominent San Francisco Bay philanthropist and community volunteer and former Levi Strauss executive Emil Knopf, a Holocaust survivor, died last Monday at 91…

Pic of the Day

Ralf Hirschberger – Pool/Getty Images

For the first time, the German Armed Forces has designated rooms for a military rabbinate. At a ceremony in Berlin on Thursday, German military Bishop Bernhard Felmberg (left); acting head of the military rabbinate Monika Heimburger; military Rabbi Zsolt Balla; Defence Minister Boris Pistorius; President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany Josef Schuster; and military Dean Joachim Simon pose together during the rooms’ inauguration.


Jonathan S. Lavine, co-managing partner and chief investment officer of Bain Capital Credit
Foundation for Jewish Camp/Facebook

Senior vice president and COO of the Jewish Communal Fund, she previously served as COO at the Foundation for Jewish Camp, Marina W. Lewin

Retired in 2016 after 26 years as executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, Arthur “Art” Abramson… Democratic candidate for president of the U.S. in 2024, she restarted her campaign last week, Marianne Deborah Williamson… Mayor of Farmington Hills, Mich., until last year, she is a former member of the Michigan State House of Representatives, Vicki Barnett… Attorney and Democratic politician from Texas, Barbara Ann Radnofsky… Attorney and a former U.S. ambassador to Belgium in the Obama administration, Howard Gutman… Partner of the global law firm Dentons, when he was elected attorney general of Georgia in 2010, he became the first Jewish person in Georgia to win statewide office, Samuel Scott Olens… Former member of Knesset who had served as Israel’s foreign minister, justice minister, agriculture minister and housing minister, Tziporah Malka “Tzipi” Livni… Retired rabbi at Temple Emanuel in Beaumont, Texas, Rabbi Joshua S. Taub… Co-president of Rochester, N.Y.-based Hahn Automotive Warehouse, he is on the board of governors of the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester, Eli N. Futerman… Washington, D.C., bureau chief of the Jewish Telegraphic AgencyRon Kampeas… Consultant strategist, policy advisor and writer, he served as corporate counsel to Allstate Insurance for 28 years, Steven Richard Sheffey… Writer, television producer, ventriloquist and puppeteer, Mallory Hurwitz Tarcher Lewis… Managing principal at DGA’s Albright Stonebridge Group, he is a former Clinton White House senior staffer, Dan K. Rosenthal… Former ice hockey player, her three sons were seventh, first and fourth picks overall, respectively, in the 2018, 2019 and 2021 NHL Draft, Ellen Weinberg-Hughes… Higher education reporter for The Wall Street JournalDouglas Belkin… New York City comptroller, Bradford S. Lander… Managing director at Harbor Group International, Meir Raskas… Israeli film director, producer and researcher, Eyal Boers… Executive vice president of the Atlantic Council, Jenna H. Ben-Yehuda… Atlanta-based educator, activist and writer, Robbie Medwed… Sports journalist, known for his coverage of mixed martial arts and professional wrestling, Ariel Jacob Helwani… Senior associate at Horizons Law and Consulting, Alon Sachar… Assistant to the president, White House staff secretary and director of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, Stefanie Feldman… Diplomatic correspondent at the Israeli public broadcasting corporation, Amichai Stein