Connected to Give: Risk and Relevance


This article was first published by eJewish Philanthropy.

Turning upside-down the stereotypical image of religious givers whose primary philanthropic concern is their own faith group, a new report released by Jumpstart reveals that charitable givers with deep connections to faith traditions are less in-group-focused than donors with looser ties.

Donors who are the most connected to their faith traditions are not just more likely to give, but do so with a sense of openness, experimentation and risk tolerance, according to the report, Connected to Give: Risk and Relevance.


“Connection fuels innovation – not the other way around,” said report co-author and Jumpstart co-founder and COO Joshua Avedon. “Organizations that use unproven programming as a way to engage prospective donors are looking through the wrong end of the telescope. Don’t be afraid of asking your existing supporters to do new things and take risks.”

Connected to Give: Risk and Relevance concludes the 13-month Connected to Give series, which combines quantitative and qualitative data to paint a new picture of the role of faith and community among charitable giving in the United States. This final report, co-authored by Avedon with Jim Gerstein and Shawn Landres, and issued by Jumpstart Labs, explores the questions posed by philanthropies and nonprofits alike in an environment marked by increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.

“This offers new evidence-based tools for funders to use with grantees in planning for the future,” said Marcella Kanfer Rolnick, chair of Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah. “They’ll be able to look at changes in the world of philanthropy with eyes wide open, and encourage their grantees to leverage innovation and creative programming as routes towards, not away from, their core supporters.”

Connected to Give: Risk and Relevance is the sixth and last in a series of reports based upon the wealth of data drawn from the National Study of American Religious Giving and the National Study of American Jewish Giving.

In addition to support from the Schusterman Family Foundation, the report is funded by Andrea & Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, Max M. & Marjorie Fisher Foundation, Emanuel J. Friedman Philanthropies, Harold Grinspoon Foundation, Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego/Leichtag Family Foundation Partnership, Koret Foundation, Lippman Kanfer Family Foundation, Marcus Foundation, Joseph Meyerhoff and Rebecca Meyerhoff Awards Committee, Jack and Goldie Wolfe Miller Fund, The Morningstar Foundation, The Natan Fund, Rose Community Foundation (Denver), Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties and Birthright Israel NEXT. Additional support was provided by Mandell Berman.

The full report is available for download.