Charitable Giving

Jewish Funders Ponder Lessons From Study

Stay the course on philanthropic priorities, or realign? Let the debate begin.


If you’re pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into Jewish identity building, what do you do when a survey comes along showing that the number of U.S. Jews engaging with Jewish life and religion is plummeting?

A 2009 event in the Washington area was part of an effort by groups focused on engaging young American Jews. JTA

Jewish Giving Needs A Broader Definition

Expert in the field sizes up new survey data for what they say about the future of Jewish philanthropy.


Sharna Goldseker is the managing director of 21/64 (, a nonprofit consulting practice specializing in next generation and multigenerational engagement in philanthropy and family enterprise. She is the co-author of “Next Gen Donors: The Future of Jewish Giving” along with Michael Moody, Frey Foundation Chair of Family Foundations and Philanthropy, Johnson Center for Philanthropy. The Jewish Week asked her to consider the state of Jewish philanthropy in the wake of several major surveys tracking Jewish identity, giving and practice. The interview, with Jewish Week Managing Editor Robert Goldblum, was conducted via e-mail.

Philanthropy consultant Sharna Goldseker finds reason for optimism in recent studies of the U.S. Jewish community. Courtesy 21/6

Charitable Giving November 2013

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Charitable Giving November 2013

Bringing Their Money To The Table

Giving circles grow in popularity, as younger donors seek community and connection.

Editorial Intern

Jo Schaalman “fell out of touch” with her Jewish identity when she left her hometown of Milwaukee for Boulder, Colo.

“My grandfather was a Reform rabbi, so I always had strong family connections. But I never found a synagogue where I fit in,” she said.

But when Schaalman, a business professional and nutrition expert who is now 35, became a member of Roots and Branches, a Jewish giving circle, in 2007, that all changed.

Giving circles use a "boutique" model. Photo courtesy Roots and Branches

Sky-High Charity

El Al’s fundraising program hits the $2 million mark.

Staff Writer

About 45 minutes before a recent El Al flight from Israel landed at JFK Airport, the pilot made a non-flight-related announcement on the public address system. Pointing passengers’ attention to a small envelope stowed in every seat pocket, he said, “Any small change you may have can make an enormous difference in children’s lives.”

El Al’s on-board fundraising initiative has raised vital dollars and shekels, for two Israeli institutions. getty images

Where Should Federations’ Money Go?

Assessing the community’s global needs and allocations in a new era of giving.

Staff Writer

David Butler became chairman last November of the Global Planning Table committee of the Jewish Federation of North America. It was created last fall to allow the North American Jewish community to collectively assess how its 150 federations and partners can most efficiently spend the money they raise.

Donald Butler: Philanthropists are showing a greater interest in how their money is being spent. getty images

No Place Like The Home Page

The Charity Bids platform for nonprofits keeps donors connected to the organization without diverting them to third-party sites.

Assistant Managing Editor

When actor Tom Hanks decided to sell his 2004 Prius to the highest bidder for charity a couple of years ago, an unintentional conflict was set in motion.

His chosen cause was Welcome Back Veterans, a group that helps returning troops adapt to civilian life. The organization is a pet cause of Major League Baseball, and the auction was also supported by the Entertainment Industry Foundation, a leading Hollywood charity.

Tom Hanks: Sale of actor’s Prius brought in $24,000 for charity via online bidding. Getty Images

Bukharian Young Adults Getting A Lesson In Giving

Leadership training program looking to impart concept of tzedakah to those not used to it.

Staff Writer

Some were born in the former Soviet Union, and came to the United States as children with their families. Some were born to émigré families here. Typical of Jews who grew up in households where education about Judaism was minimal, they had learned little about fundamental Jewish beliefs.

Including tzedakah.

A few weeks ago a dozen of them started their remedial education.

At the first meeting of Kalontar, a Forest Hills program for Bukharian Jews, participants learned the basics of tzedakah. SL

Must Small Donors Feel That Way?

In sluggish economy, organizations struggle with the cost of cultivating small donors.

Staff Writer

Allison Laichter, a darling of the Jewish communal world roundly hailed as a promising young leader, is out of a job.

The departure of Jewish Meditation Center co-founder Allison Laichter, center, sheds light on the small-donor problem.

That Noise Is ‘Big Data’ Knocking

With federation and foundation funding, GrapeVine aims to build a communal database.

Special To The Jewish Week

Think about the average Jewish organization’s database of contacts for a moment. What percent are either one-time participants or one-time donors? Seventy percent? Eighty percent? More? In most of the 800 nonprofit organizations we’ve worked with, these individuals who have dropped off radar screen constitute the vast majority of names in their database.

So what happened to these people?

Sacha Litman: Trying to prevent Jews from leaking out of the pipeline.
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