$26-Bil+: The US Jewish charity industry

$26-bil (R276-bil at today’s exchange rate) – the value of the US Jewish charity industry according to a survey by the Jewish Daily Forward. Who gives? Where to? “The American Jewish community’s network of charity organisations is a font of Jewish power, a source of communal pride and a huge mystery.” And, much of the giving is excluded from these figures. SAJR has gained permission to share some of this with our readers, and direct them to the full, fascinating story…
by ANT KATZ | Apr 02, 2014

All images courtesy of The Jewish Daily Forward. Partial publication with permission, the full story by JOSH NATHAN-KAZIS can be read on THE JEWISH DAILY FORWARD

In their 28 March edition, The Jewish Daily Forward published Part I of a huge research project they have undertaken called “US Jewish charity industry uncovered.” SA Jewish Report Online has obtained permission to publish portions of this epic study – which we will do over the coming days and weeks.

Part 1 of their survey, written by Josh Nathan-Kazis, is entitled: "Donors give more to Israel than to education."

The American Jewish community’s network of charity organizations is a font of Jewish power, a source of communal pride and a huge mystery.

We know that the network exists. We know that its federations, social service groups and advocacy organizations influence America’s domestic and foreign policy, care for the old, educate the young and send more than a billion dollars a year to Israel.

Foreward chart 1Yet until now we’ve had no idea what the network looks like, writes Nathan Kazis.

Individual organizations file tax returns. Some umbrella groups offer information on their members’ work. But no one has measured the network as a whole: how much it spends, how much it raises, how it prioritises causes, how much it gets from the government.

How the work was done?

Now, the Forward has identified and reviewed tax documents filed by more than 3,600 Jewish organisations in the most comprehensive survey ever of the financial workings of this Jewish tax-exempt ecosystem. And the results are striking.

This analysis doesn’t include synagogues and other groups that avoid revealing their financial information by claiming a religious exemption. But even without this substantial sector, the Jewish community’s federations, schools, health care and social service organizations, Israel aid groups, cultural and communal organizations, and advocacy groups report net assets of $26-billion.

Where the money goes?

Forward Graph 1The pie-chart, right, and the key below show how the $26-billion pie is divided. SAJR Online is only able to share a static image of how the proceeds of the US Jewish not-for-profit apparatus breaks down – enough to indicate where their priorities lie.
Forward Graph 1aUsers who like statistics can click through to THE JEWISH DAILY FORWARD which uses Tableau technology to allow for the drilling down of the various categories.

For even more information, click to read: How I Built My Jewish Charity Database - by Josh Nathan-Kazis

The Forward’s investigation has uncovered a tax-exempt Jewish communal apparatus that operates on the scale of a Fortune 500 company and focuses the largest share of its donor dollars on Israel.

This analysis excludes Shuls and other groups that avoid revealing their financial information by claiming a religious exemption.

Contributions to the functional agencies of the Jewish charitable network, broken down by category. Show that Israel-related groups get the most.

In fact, says Forward, “That’s more than the Las Vegas Sands Corp., which owns casinos all over the world. It’s about the same as the CBS Corp. which owns 29 TV stations, 126 radio stations, the CBS Television Network and Simon & Schuster.”

They also point out that “the (US) Jewish communal network of tax-exempt groups employ as many people as the Ford Motor Co.”

Furthermore, “its $12-billion to $14-billion in annual revenue is more than the federal government’s 2014 appropriation to the US Department of the Interior, which manages a fifth of all the land in the United States, runs the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the national parks, and administers Guam, American Samoa and the US Virgin Islands.”

“What exists out there is a lot of guessing,” said Eric Fleisch, a postdoctoral fellow at Brandeis University who recently completed a thesis on American Jewish giving to Israel. “Not very much has been written about this at all.”

Follow our abridged reports, or go with the Forward

SA Jewish Report Online readers are welcome to follow the debate that the Forward will be publishing in the coming weeks – or stay with us and follow the short and relevant parts. We will always ensure that we give users the links to the Forward’s fuller accounts.

The Forward believes that it can “now describe a Jewish apparatus that, despite extensive rhetoric about the importance of Jewish education, still dedicates the largest share of its donor dollars to Israel-related causes. It’s an apparatus that benefits massively from the US federal government and many state and local governments, in the form of hundreds of millions of dollars in government grants, billions in tax-deductible donations and billions more in program fees paid for with government funds. And it’s an apparatus that requires vast resources to support itself - spending $2.3-billion a year on management and fundraising.”


MAP BELOW: The US map below shows how the vast majority of Jewish organisational assets are in New York
Forward - map 1 FULL


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