Methods

The major findings for Connected to Give 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 web-based 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 surveyed 1,951 non-Jews in non-Jewish households, including an oversample of households with incomes of $100,000 and higher.  The NSAJG 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 unit of analysis in the Jewish survey is Jewish household, and respondents in the Jewish survey were asked a series of screening questions in order to qualify for participation:

1. Do you consider yourself Jewish?
2. (Among married or living with a partner) Does your spouse/partner consider himself or herself Jewish?
3. Is your religion Judaism?
4. (Among married or living with a partner) Is your spouse’s/partner’s religion Judaism?

In order to qualify, a respondent must either consider themselves Jewish OR say their religion is Judaism OR have a spouse/partner who considers themselves Jewish OR have a spouse/partner who says their religion is Judaism.

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 Religious survey results were weighted using U.S. Census targets.

The survey instrument used to measure giving largely replicated Indiana University’s biennial Philanthropy Panel Study (PPS) and Bank of America Studies of High Net Worth Philanthropy. Indiana University’s giving instrument, first fielded in 2001 as a module within the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, serves as the benchmark measure for American charitable giving. The PPS inquires about giving to religious congregations or religious activity/spiritual development; combined purpose; basic needs; health; education; youth and family services; arts and culture; neighborhood and community improvement; environmental preservation and animal protection; international aid; and other (respondent-defined). The NSARG and NSAJG added inquiries about giving to congregations other than the respondents’ own; Israel-related causes; and civic and social advocacy organizations. The categories for Israel-related giving were adapted from those in The New Philanthropy: American Jewish Giving to Israeli Organizations (Fleisch and Sasson, 2012). The instrument used to measure affiliation with religious traditions replicated the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey (2007). For the NSAJG, Professor Steven M. Cohen, of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), supplied selected Jewish engagement questions used in numerous Jewish community studies across the United States. Several additional religiosity questions are central to the analysis in Connected to Give: Faith Communities. The question about the importance of religion was drawn from the Pew Forum’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey (2008). The questions about self-identity as a religious person and a spiritual person are drawn from the Pew Forum (2012). The religious attendance question used in both the NSARG and the NSAJG was drawn from the General Social Survey.

Although the NSARG and NSAJG instruments were designed to be parallel, there is an important distinction to keep in mind while reading the results: where respondents in the NSARG saw an adjective such as “religious”, respondents in the NSAJG typically saw the adjective “Jewish,” which for many  Jews has ethnic, cultural, and other meanings beyond the strictly religious. For example, after reporting the amount given to organizations that help people in need of basic necessities, NSARG [Christian] respondents were asked: “How much of that was to [Christian and other] religious organizations that help people in need?” NSAJG respondents were asked: “How much of that was to Jewish organizations that help people in need?” (emphasis in the original). Another example: “How important is religion to you?” and “Right now, how important is being Jewish in your life?” Therefore, when reading the results in the reports across the groups Black Protestants, Evangelical Protestants, Mainline Protestants, Roman Catholics, not affiliated, and Jews it is important to keep in mind that Jews saw questions that reference the multivalent Jewish identity.

Giving to congregations and charitable organizations is typically analyzed as a household decision by people who are married or cohabiting. Therefore, the giving questions asked the respondent to report amounts given during calendar year 2012 by the respondent and partner, if the respondent was married or cohabiting. The questions referred to the partner as either “husband,” “wife,” “spouse,” or “partner” according to the preference of the respondent.  Consequently, the unit of analysis for this report is the family unit, with the qualification that amounts given by others living with the respondent and partner as an economic-sharing unit were not measured. Such amounts are likely small.

After a careful description of charitable and religious organizations, the kinds of donations people typically make (money, assets, property/goods), and some easy-to-forget ways donations can get made (payroll deduction and on the Internet), the respondent was asked, “In 2012, did you or your “partner” ” (if married/cohabiting) donate money, assets, or property/goods, with a combined value of more than $25 to religious or charitable organizations?” (emphasis in the original). This screening question served two purposes. First, if the answer was “no”, we did not waste the respondent’s time by asking her/him 14 sets of questions about amounts given to two different religious congregations and twelve different types of charitable organizations. Second, by setting the threshold at $25, rather than $0, we mitigate self-presentation effects. We gave the respondents a socially acceptable way to say “no.”  Sixty-three percent of the respondents said “yes”, and this is our estimate of the percentage of Americans who give to congregations or charitable organizations in 2012.

This estimate, and every estimate in these reports, has a margin of error. The margin of error for the percentage of Americans who give is .03. Hence, the 95% confidence interval estimate is 60% to 66%. Margins of error for estimates of amounts are in dollar terms.  For example, Connected to Give: Faith Communities’s estimate that, among donors to organizations that are not religiously identified (NRIOs), the median amount given in $250 has a margin of error of $43; the 95% confidence interval estimate is $207 to $293.

Connected to Give also includes a comparative ethnographic inquiry into language, motivations and the social dynamics of giving, designed and led by Professor Sarah Benor of the HUC-JIR School of Jewish Nonprofit Management. That report, based on fieldwork at more than 20 African American, Asian American, Jewish, Latino, LGBT, and online giving circles around the United States, including women’s giving circles, is forthcoming in early 2014.

Additional Information about specific reports

For charts describing the combined NSARG/NSAJG sample, please see Connected to Give: Faith Communities. For charts describing the NSAJG sample, please see Connected to Give: Key Findings and Connected to Give: Synagogues and Movements. The charts present weighted statistics.

While all survey reporting in the Connected to Give series is based on identical datasets, differences among researchers in calculation methods, especially with respect to handling of missing values, may yield corresponding differences in specific results, which therefore may vary somewhat from one report to another, even if patterns and trends remain the same. That said, all reported medians in the Connected to Give series have been calculated using the same data handling methods by Mark Ottoni-Wilhelm and Amir D. Hayat.

1. Connected to Give: Key Findings from the National Study of American Jewish Giving

Connected to Give: Key Findings from the National Study of American Jewish Giving also draws on focus groups with different types of Jewish donors, Jewish organizational professionals, and philanthropic advisers, as follows:

° 4 focus groups with Jews who contribute to Jewish causes or organizations

° 4 focus groups with Jews who contribute to charitable causes, but do not contribute to Jewish causes or organizations

° 2 focus groups with CEOs, Executive Directors, and Development Directors at Jewish organizations

° 1 focus group with advisers to foundations or philanthropists in Jewish settings

° 1 focus group with advisers to foundations or philanthropists who are Jewish, but do not work in Jewish settings

2. Connected to Give: Jewish Legacies

The sample sizes for the Jewish data cited in Connected to Give: Jewish Legacies are: 602 total respondents; 427 respondents who have a will;
118 planned givers; 291 non-bequestors; 70 planned givers with a Jewish bequest; 44 planned givers without a Jewish bequest. The sample sizes for the non-Jewish data cited in this report are: 414
total respondents, 253 respondents who have a will; 49 planned givers; 200 non-bequestors; and 25 planned givers with a bequest to their particular religious denomination. Given the extremely small number of planned givers in the non-Jewish data, we do not analyze these respondents beyond a one- time comparison to the Jewish respondents to provide context for the Jewish results.

3. Connected to Give: Faith Communities

Connected to Give: Faith Communities  follows Steensland et al. (2000) by aggregating the affiliation data into the four major Christian groups that we analyze: Black Protestants, Evangelical Protestants, Mainline Protestants, and Roman Catholics. Other smaller religious groups—Buddhists, Hindus, Mormons, Muslims, Orthodox Christians, and people who indicated they were “something else”—are included in the overall analysis but not specifically discussed because their numbers in the sample are too small. Also, Protestants who did not indicate a denomination (“no-denomination” Protestants) are included in the overall analysis but not specifically discussed. Again following Steensland et al. (2000), non-denominational Protestants were included in the Evangelical Protestant group. Following the Pew Forum (2012), respondents self-identifying as atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular” form the “not affiliated” group.

Respondents from the NSAJG form the Jewish group in the combined NSARG/NSAJG sample; note that this group contains Jews who are religious and those who are not. For the combined NSARG/NSAJG sample used in Connected to Give: Faith Communities, we scale the weights from the two surveys so that in the combined sample Jews account for 2.2% of the American adult population, following Sheskin and Dashefsky (2012). That said, it is the NSAJG—effectively, an oversample of Jews—that allows us to analyze Jews along with the above mentioned Christian groups and the not affiliated. Otherwise, and like the smaller groups also mentioned above, we would have too few Jews in the sample to include specific discussion about them.

The estimates of giving rates from the combined NSARG/NSAJG sample closely match rates estimated from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy Panel Study (PPS). The PPS estimate of the percentage of Americans who give to congregations or charitable organizations is 66%, and the corresponding interval estimate 65% to 67% overlaps the interval estimate from the present report described in the previous paragraph.  The present study’s estimate of the giving rate to congregations (44%) matches the estimate from the PPS (42%), as does the estimate of the giving rate to charitable organizations (RIOs and NRIOs combined): 58% (present study) and 57% (PPS).

Estimates of the average amount given to congregations and charitable organizations combined are also close to the average estimated from the PPS: $2,683 and $2,402. Amounts given to congregations in the combined NSARG/NSAJG sample are smaller than in the PPS, suggesting that the combined sample does not contain a disproportionally high number of people who give large amounts to congregations. Indeed, amounts given to congregations in the combined sample are similar to those in the American National Election Study 2008-2009 Panel, which also replicated Indiana University’s PPS.  Amounts given to charitable organizations in the combined NSARG/NSAJG sample are similar to those in the PSS, except that there are larger amounts reported in the high income oversample part of the combined NSARG/NSAJG sample.

In the comparisons of giving rates between people with different characteristics reported in Connected to Give: Faith Communities Key Findings 4, 5, and 6 (unless otherwise noted in the report), using multiple regression methods, we statistically control the demographic and socio-economic differences between people. Specifically, the comparisons of giving rates hold constant: age, marital status (married, cohabiting, single woman, single man), the number of children living at home, race, ethnicity, region, education (high school graduate, post-high school training, some college, college graduate, graduate school), 2012 total household income, and subjective financial situation (well-off, have extra money, have enough money, just making end meet, cannot make ends meet).

4. Connected to Give: Synagogues and Movements

As elsewhere, estimated medians in Connected to Give: Synagogues and Movements are based on amounts given by donors in each category, and therefore are larger than they would have been if all American Jews (not just donors in each category) had been included in the calculations. While the estimated median among American Jewish donors who give to Jewish congregations is $656, the estimated median among American Jewish donors who give to all congregations (not just Jewish ones) is $750.

The National Study of American Jewish Giving asked respondents in separate questions whether they belong to a synagogue, temple, or minyan and whether they identified with a religious movement. The two variables are independent of one another: no assumption may be made about whether or not a synagogue member who identifies with a given religious movement in fact belongs to a congregation affiliated with that movement.

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