It may hardly come as a surprise that Jews affiliated to Jewish organisations, or who have circles of Jewish friends, donate more to the Jewish community than those who do not have such connections.
But according to a new American study, Jews with active links to other Jews are also more likely to give to general, non-Jewish causes as well.
A new report, Connected to Give, published by the National Study of American Jewish Giving, found an “impressive” level of charitable commitment among Jews in the USA which ought to prove “heartening” to philanthropic organisations. But it also warned that the forces which fostered Jewish solidarity in the past are on the wane.
The study, sponsored by Jumpstart and other Jewish organisations, looked at patterns of giving among the majority, non-Orthodox population. Overall, 76 per cent of US Jews made a charitable donation last year, compared with 63 per cent of Americans in general. Whereas the median average Jewish donation was $1200 (roughly £750) — which includes shul membership dues — the US average was $600 (£375).
Whereas the percentage of givers among US Jews and non-Jews was almost equal in the income bracket of $100,000 (£63,000), among those earning less, there is a striking difference. For those with incomes of under $50,000 (£31,500), 60 per cent of non-Orthodox US Jews give to charity, compared with 46 per cent of Americans overall: and for those earning $20,000 (£12,600), 41 per cent of Jews donate, compared with 26 per cent of Americans in general.
The value of tzedakah appears to remain strongly rooted. The report states that “the more connected American Jews are to social networks and Jewish communities, the more likely they are to give, [and] not only to Jewish organisations.”
Of the three quarters of US Jews who do give to charity, 92 per cent give to a non-Jewish body, compared with 79 per cent who support a Jewish cause. But interestingly, Jews are less likely to give to a religious congregation (60 per cent of contributors to charity) than Americans in general (61 per cent).
Overall, the city-wide Jewish community federations and large membership institutions have been losing donors, the report says, while some innovative new organisations are “struggling” to secure income. New “creative paths to Jewish engagement and action” are going to be needed if US Jewry is to thrive in the 21st century.