The National Study of American Jewish Giving, 2013 - Connected to Give

Sponsor(s): Connected to Give

Principal Investigator(s): Jim Gerstein, Steven Martin Cohen, J. Shawn Landres

Key Findings:


The results of an Internet-study based 2013 National Study of American Jewish Giving are summarized in a series of reports issued by the Connected to Give Consortium and Jump Start.  

The data file from the project is now available. For more details, see the Sample and Sample Notes sections below.



The first report in the series, Connected to Give: Key Findings (Gerstein, Cohen and Landres) noted five major themes in September, 2013: (1) Most American Jews are charitable givers, (2) Most Jews who make charitable contributions give to both Jewish and non-Jewish organizations, (3) Engagement with Jewish community is a paramount driver of Jewish charitable giving and even drives giving to non-Jewish organizations, (4) As the income levels of American Jews rise, so do all measures of their charitable giving, and (5) Although age is not a driving factor in the incidence and amount of charitable giving overall, younger Jews clearly are less likely to give to Jewish organizations.

Comparing the study data on Jewish persons to data on non-Jews from a parallel 2013  National Study of American Religious Givings, the authors also noted that: (a) Among households with middle and higher annual incomes, Jews and non-Jews give at roughly equivalent rates; (b) Jews and non-Jews give at similar rates to religiously affiliated organizations; and, (c) Jews contribute more than non-Jews to all types of charitable organizations, except religious congregations.

As of November 2014, five other research monographs have been released in the Connected to Give... series.

The second report, Connected to Give: Jewish Legacies: Planned Giving Findings From the National Study of American Jewish Giving was written by Gerstein and Landres was issued in October, 2013 and summarized national data on Jewish wills and charitable provisions in will, based on the Internet survey data.

The third report, Connected to Give: Faith Communities: Key Findings From the National Study of American Religious Giving, by Melanie A. McKitrick, J. Shawn Landres, Mark Ottoni-Wilhelm, and Amir D. Hayat was released in December 2013 and focused on national patterns of religious giving.

The fourth report in the series, Connected to Give: Synagogues and Movements...was written primarily by Steven M. Cohen and J. Shawn Landres, released in early 2014, focuses on the Jewish congregational context of Jewish charitable giving.   The authors note that:

" 56% of American Jewish donors are members of a Jewish congregation, and 68%
are identified with a religious movement. Of all funds donated in 2012 to Jewish
organizations, 79% came from synagogue members, even though they constitute just 38% of the adult Jewish population.  The average synagogue member donated six times as much to Jewish organizations as did the average non-member."

The fifth report, Connected to Give: Community Circles, was written by Evelyn Dean-Olmsted, Sarah Bunin Benor, and Jim Gerstein, with additional research by Ayala
Fader and contributions from Joshua Avedon, Shawn Landres, and Michal Lemberger.  The report draws upon data from both the National Study of American Jewish Giving (NSAJG) and the National Study of American Religious Giving (NSARG) to explore giving collectives, frequently called giving circles, which are groups of people who pool their donations and decide together how to distribute the funds. 

The major findings in the report are a combination of empirical data from the two Internet studies of giving and a series of findings based on qualitative research (multi-site participant observation at more than twenty community-and affinity-based giving circles across the United States (see details in Methods section, pp. 23 ff. of report).

The basic empirical finding from the survey analysis: (Finding # 1) about one in eight American donors reports having participated in a giving circle -  half are under the age of forty

The more qualitatively-based major findings include: (2) Participation in giving circles can help deepen social and communal connections, (3) Beyond making social connections, giving circle participants can acquire a greater awareness of the philanthropic and cultural traditions specific to their ethnic, religious, or affinity group, (4) Participation in a giving circle can empower people of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds to think of themselves as philanthropists and give them the opportunity to create and participate in a culture of giving, and (5) Although giving circles may generate smaller giving amounts than similarly structured community foundation or combined-purpose fund distribution models, they can encourage a collaborative mindset and democratic approach to charitable allocation.

The sixth and final report in the series, Connected to Give: Risk & Relevance, written by Jim Gerstein, J.Shawn Landres and Joshua Avedon, was released in November, 2014. continues the series theme that " ties are strong predictors of giving behavior across multiple dimensions."    The report focuses on key donor attitudes that may be of particular concern to American religious and ethnic communities:

• When it comes to charitable giving, how do donors balance tradition and innovation?

• How important is an organization’s trustworthiness, relative to its track record?

• What role, if any, does political ideology play in balancing those considerations?

• How do religiously affiliated donors balance in-group giving with more universal


Page 27 of Report #3 summarizes the research methodology:

"The key findings for Connected to Give: Faith Communities were derived from analysis
of two surveys: the National Study of American Religious Giving (NSARG) and the
National Study of American Jewish Giving (NSAJG). Both surveys were conducted in
winter 2013 and assessed respondents’ 2012 giving behaviors....The NSARG and NSAJG surveys were administered by email invitation to webbased panels hosted by Mountain West Research Center, a division of Survey Sampling International. The panel, which is regularly updated and consists of nearly 900,000 Americans, has been compiled through a mixture of consumer databases, recruitment through random digit dialing, and internet advertising. The NSARG [National Study of American Religious Giving] surveyed 1,951 non-Jews in non-Jewish households, including an oversample of households with incomes of $100,000 and higher. The NSAJG [National Study of American Jewish Giving] surveyed 2,911 American Jewish households, including an oversample of households with incomes
of $100,000 and higher. Mixed households of Jews and non-Jews are included in the
NSAJG; other mixed households not containing Jews are included in the NSARG."

"The Jewish survey results were weighted using targets derived from the 2001 National Jewish Population Study (United States) and the 2011 New York Jewish Population Study (Westchester, New York City and Long Island)."

"The NSARG results were weighted using U.S. Census targets. For the combined NSARG/NSAJG sample used in this report we scale the weights from the two surveys so that in the combined sample Jews account for 2.2% of the American adult population. This approach is consistent with recent estimates."

Sample Size: 2,911 Jewish housheolds (comparisons to 1,951 non-Jewish households also)

Sample Notes:

Survey data are based on Internet responses from 1,951 non-Jewish households collected from January 30, 2013 to February 10, 2013 and 2,911 Jewish households surveyed from January 3-23, 2013.  Please see the LINK on the left to Connected to Give; the non-Jewish survey answers are labeled as NSARG frequencies and the Jewish responses as NSAJG.  


The data file for Jewish sample respondents is available on on the right side of this Overview page; the unweighted sample size is 2,911.

• When downloaded, the NSAJG-2013 Jewish sample data file is weighted (weighted N=2,357);  variable "Weight" is v185 of 197 variables. 

The SPSS SAV file used by most researchers is available as a separate SAV download. SAV users need not download the zip file described below.

Users of the SPSS POR  - portable -  system must download the zip file  which has both the POR version of the NSAJG file and the truncations involved in variable names when converting to a POR format. 


Also available via the DataBank are weighted and unweighted frequencies for all variables (except weight and  "C": case order) so researchers can check that they have successfully downloaded the file.  They are based on the variable names and labeling in NSAJG SPSSSAV file, and have been exported into an Excel format.


Finally, the original Topline frequency document prepared by GBA Strategies for the Jewish sample has been revised for DataBank users  in order to help with the analysis of this important data file. Please check the DataBank version of the Topline document when analyzing the data file; see especially the discussion of weighted and unweighted Ns, and the difference between the data file structure and the reported Topline frequencies for variables which are contingency questions in a complex series of questions.


Study Notes:

The Berman Jewish DataBank has published a Compendium of Tables and Charts that allows for Comparisons of Jewish Communities on a number of variables, including charitable donations.

Two links on the left side of this Overview Page allow direct downloading of the relevant sub-sections of the Compendium -  Donations to Federations and Donations to Jewish and Non-Jewish Charities.

Language: English