Survey: Jews top the list when it comes to giving

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A national study probing the philanthropic habits of American Jews has been published, funded in part by the Bay Area–based Koret Foundation and the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation.

“Connected to Give: Key Findings from the National Study of American Jewish Giving” is the first of several reports from a consortium of foundations and Jewish federations partnering with Jumpstart, a Los Angeles–based Jewish charity research group.

Among the key findings: 76 percent of U.S. Jews made charitable contributions last year compared to 63 percent of non-Jewish Americans, and the median annual giving rate among Jews was $1,200, double that of non-Jews.

Age is a big factor in giving. According to the study, for example, 49 percent of non-Orthodox Jews aged 18 to 39 gave to a Jewish group in 2012, compared with 62 percent of those 40 and older.

But the most significant determinant of giving, according to the study, is engagement with the Jewish community. Those who reported more Jewish connections — such as attending religious services, having Jewish friends or being married to a Jew — were more likely to donate to charities, and not just Jewish ones.

In fact, the study concluded that Jews give to non-Jewish causes more than they give to Jewish causes.

“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, Jumpstart’s co-founder. “[This study] 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 findings are based on a survey of 3,000 Jewish households and 2,000 non-Jewish households.

Members of the S.F.-based federation staff sat on the advisory and steering committees for the project. “I am proud to support this landmark study and to lend our federation’s voice to these responsible and comprehensive efforts to better understand the direction of American philanthropy,” federation CEO Jennifer Gorovitz said. — jta and j. staff