The Jewish Daily Forward has an article analyzing where the monies from Jewish philanthropy goes (“26 Billion Bucks: The Jewish Charity Industry Uncovered”).
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…
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 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.
I cracked up at this line:
“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.”
I wonder why?
In the coming weeks, the Forward will publish a series of articles reporting the results of its investigation. The Forward 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 U.S. 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 — and $93 million on galas alone…
Of the $3.7 billion in donations that the functional agencies of the communal apparatus receive in a year, 38% goes to Israel-focused groups. That’s more than any other category, including education, which gets just 20% of donations.
Education groups’ cut drops to 16% if Brandeis and Yeshiva universities are excluded from the count. The remaining groups, mostly Hillels, day schools and summer camps that focus primarily on Jewish, rather than secular, education, receive $617 million in donations per year — $807 million less than Israel-focused groups.
The high proportion going to Israel-related groups, Sasson said, is “further evidence… that American Jews are deeply interested in Israel even as they take a variety of different positions with regard to contentious political issues.”
Where is the cash coming from? In short, New York.
The financial center of the Jewish communal network is located firmly and disproportionately in New York. New York State is home to just a quarter of America’s Jewish population, but $7.2 billion of the $14.6 billion in annual revenues reported by the network go to organizations based there.
The second-largest state by revenue is California, with just $1.2 billion a year, while Massachusetts comes in third, with $930 million. The network is totally absent from Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and North Dakota.