Young Jews of means are more likely then their gentile counterparts to give to
faith-based charitable organizations and causes, according to new research
conducted by consulting firm 21/64 and the Johnson Center for Philanthropy at
Grand Valley State University.
According to the report, “#NEXTGENDONORS:
The Future of Jewish Giving,” 64.9 percent of “high-capacity, Jewish next-gen
donors” surveyed “say they give to religious and faith-based organizations” as
opposed to 31.6% of gentile respondents.
“Jews in the next generation are
becoming less interested in formal religious practice and are distancing
themselves from Israel,” the report noted, but while “Jewish next-gen donors do
give less to Jewish causes than they perceive that their parents or grandparents
do, our findings suggest that the community’s concern is overblown.” According
to researchers, Jewish causes rank second behind education as the most popular
destination for Jewish funds among those surveyed.
suggest that, while rising Jewish major donors might mirror their generational
peers in becoming less religious than previous generations, they still have a
strong connection to the Jewish philanthropic community along with a sense of
Jewish identity that influences their philanthropic activities,” the report
A total of 310 “high-capacity donors” aged between 21 and 40 were
interviewed for the study, representing a philanthropic elite. Eighty-eight
percent of the respondents identified as Jewish. Respondents identified “mostly
as white” and more than half reported making over $100,000
However, while the percentage of young Jews who donate to
religious organizations and causes is not far from that of their parents and
grandparents’ generations – pegged at 78% – the percentage of money donated to
such causes differs, the report explained.
“‘Secular’ giving is a bigger
proportion of their giving than it is for their families,” according to the
report. “Next-gen donors spread their personal giving more evenly to a broader
range of issue areas than do their families.”
Donations to organizations
such as Jewish Federations is also lower among the younger generation of
philanthropists, the report noted. While such donations feature “less
prominently” in next-gen giving, however, “over half say they give some amount
to these combination organizations.”
This matches comments made to The
in May by the UJA-Federation of New York’s David Mallach, who
said that the “pie is getting bigger [but] our share is not. The quantity of
Jewish charity that goes to non-Jewish [causes] is increasing.”
is much more individualistic, much less communal, so philanthropic giving
becomes much more [individual],” he said.
“I just want more generational
involvement because I think my parents get very upset that they think that my
brother, my sister and I have moved away a lot from our ‘Jewish roots.’ It’s
not, but it’s just a different way of thinking about those roots,” one of the
young Jews surveyed told researchers.
While some media outlets have
reported the study’s findings as representing a broader trend within American
Judaism, Dan Brown of the eJewishPhilanthropy news website warned against
extrapolating too much from the results.
“It is important to keep in mind
that those surveyed do not share many of the characteristics of others in their
age cohort,” he told the Post.
“Most important, this report looks
specifically at those who ‘get their capacity’ for major giving through their
Almost half say the money used for philanthropy comes from
their parents’ generation. Fifty-seven-and-a-half percent report making $100,000
or more annually, and just under half [48.1%] report $1 million or more in
personal net worth.
While this level of personal income and wealth is
higher than the average American’s, it also suggests that these next-gen donors’
capacity for major giving comes mostly from their families.”
concern to the Jewish community, he said, and “especially those in the
Federation world, should be newly published findings [Next Generation of
American Giving] that show Gen Y [18- to-32-year-olds] is the least likely to
support local social services – the area most important to almost every single
Federation annual campaign.”
However, Dani Wassner, the spokesman for the
Jewish Federations of North America, an umbrella group representing organized
American Jewry, said that his organization sees “extremely positive and hopeful
signs of young people – from all backgrounds – getting increasingly engaged and
involved across the country.”
Citing events such as Tribefest, an annual
gathering of young Jewish leaders, and projects being run by local Federations
across North America, Wassner told the Post that “young people are getting
involved in personally meaningful and inspiring ways, and creating their own
pathways into the Jewish community.”
“Many hundreds of young leaders are
continuously involved on the national level too. For example, 150 activists of
National Young Leadership joined a mission to Israel this June and July,
contributing more than $150,000 and pledging to contribute significantly to
Federation going forward,” he said.