August 12, 2013

Young Jewish Donors Seek to Increase Impact

Survey gives Jewish organizations reason for optimism

Next-generation Jewish philanthropists continue to be active donors at the same time they are looking for new ways to maximize the effects of their giving, according to a new study.

They also want to be more formally involved in their family’s philanthropy.

The report, released last week by 21/64 and the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy, looks at the causes next-gen donors care about, how they approach their giving and how their approach differs from earlier generations.

The survey involved 88 respondents, described as “high-capacity donors,” who self-identified as Jewish. Half were in their 20s and half in their 30s.

Next-gen donors in the survey continued to fund Jewish organizations despite research indicating that new generations of the Jewish community are less involved in formal religious practice than previous generations.

Sixty-five percent of respondents identified religious and faith-based organizations as the second most common area of their giving (behind education, 73%).

The findings have important implications for the Jewish organizations that seek their support, according to the researchers.

“Many Jewish organizations and Jewish families are re-evaluating how to engage the emerging generation of Jewish donors who will carry the legacy of Jewish family giving into the future,” Michael Moody, Frey Foundation chair for family philanthropy at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University, said in a statement.

“The new findings from this study help advance our thinking about how these Jewish next-gen donors want to be engaged, either by the organizations they support or within their own families.”

The study found that inherited values drove the respondents in their philanthropy. Ninety-two percent said their philanthropy was influenced by their parents, while 66% pointed to their grandparents.

Respondents reported not being as involved in their families’ giving as they would like to be, and striving for a more active role. Thirty-nine percent said they were currently minimally or not involved in family philanthropy.

Frustrated by the lack of formal engagement in their own families, these next-gen donors often looked elsewhere for meaningful philanthropic engagement and experience. Forty-eight percent reported that they served on nonprofit boards, 74% encouraged friends to give and 87% gave online. And 84% said they expected to be somewhat or heavily involved in their family’s giving in the future.

The study also found that like most next-gen donors, respondents were looking for new, innovative ways to maximize the effect of their giving, by exploring more hands-on experience and shifting to more peer-oriented giving.

“Despite concerns from the community that the next generation of Jewish funders are less involved in Jewish giving, the results from our study provide an optimistic view,” Sharna Goldseker, managing director of 21/64, a consulting firm specializing on multigenerational philanthropy, said in the statement. 

“As the surveys reveal, not only are Jewish next-gen donors committed to supporting Jewish organizations, they want to be even further involved in substantive and meaningful ways.”

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Check out Warren Buffett’s Son, Peter, Fires Shot at ‘Charitable-Industrial Complex’ on ThinkAdvisor.

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