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2013-09-06 digital edition

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September 6, 2013  RSS feed

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Study finds American Jews among most generous

The first comprehensive nationwide study of Jewish and religious giving finds that social engagement with Jewish community is key predictor of giving to all causes, not just Jewish ones.

The non-profit group, Jumpstart, released the report, “Connected to Give: Key Findings,” the first in a series of studies 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.”

According to Jeffrey R. Solomon, president of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Foundation and cofounder 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,” says Professor Una Osili, director of Research at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, which led the study.

“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, he said.”

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.

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