Charitable Giving: a Preliminary Analysis of the Toledo, Ohio Jewish Donor Market

The purpose of this paper is to report on the charitable giving behavior of a segment of a community's population. It is part of a larger 1982 study of the Jewish population in Toledo, Ohio, USA. The perspective employed in this paper is more akin to ethnography than to marketing; that is, the emphasis is on the givers and why and how much they give, rather than on the methods used to elicit charitable contributions. After a brief introductory statement, the paper is divided into two sections. First, we outline the demographic characteristics of the study population as well as describe some of its religious attitudes and behaviors. Second, we test the relationship between selected respondent characteristics and charitable giving behavior in an urban, Jewish population in the midwestern USA.



Citation:

Alan B. Flaschner and Cary S. Kart (1985) ,"Charitable Giving: a Preliminary Analysis of the Toledo, Ohio Jewish Donor Market", in SV - Historical Perspective in Consumer Research: National and International Perspectives, eds. Jagdish N. Sheth and Chin Tiong Tan, Singapore : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 215-218.

Historical Perspective in Consumer Research: National and International Perspectives, 1985     Pages 215-218

CHARITABLE GIVING: A PRELIMINARY ANALYSIS OF THE TOLEDO, OHIO JEWISH DONOR MARKET

Alan B. Flaschner, The University of Toledo

Cary S. Kart, The University of Toledo

The purpose of this paper is to report on the charitable giving behavior of a segment of a community's population. It is part of a larger 1982 study of the Jewish population in Toledo, Ohio, USA. The perspective employed in this paper is more akin to ethnography than to marketing; that is, the emphasis is on the givers and why and how much they give, rather than on the methods used to elicit charitable contributions. After a brief introductory statement, the paper is divided into two sections. First, we outline the demographic characteristics of the study population as well as describe some of its religious attitudes and behaviors. Second, we test the relationship between selected respondent characteristics and charitable giving behavior in an urban, Jewish population in the midwestern USA.

INTRODUCTION

It is alleged that almost everyone -in the United States contributes money to one or another organization in each calendar year (Kotler 1981, p. 425). The total amount varies with regard to the socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of the giver. More money is contributed by high-income individuals, people in their middle years and those with more education. Still, within such groups, giving levels may vary substantially. Obviously, some of the most wealthy give not at all while some low-income individuals are found to give a considerable proportion of their annual income to charity. Among wealthy people, for example, physicians tend to give less than lawyers (Kotler 1981, p. 425).

Explaining why some give and others do not is difficult. Harold Seymour suggests that some people give because they are responsible (they donate without being solicited), others give because they are responsive (they donate when they are asked), while still others give in response to compulsion (they donate because of pressure) (Kotler 1981, p. 428). In each of Seymour's categories, individuals give in order to get something back. What does the donor get? Community recognition, reduction of fear, and personal feelings of altruism would seem but a few of the possible components of the exchange between a donor and a charitable organization.

Jews constitute less than three percent of the total United States population. This demographic imperative, by itself, should suggest the limits placed on the charitable giving behavior of American Jews. Several additional trends contribute to the ambience of a fundraising crisis in the American Jewish community. The Jewish population in the United States has leveled off and may, in fact, be shrinking. This places greater responsibility on fewer individuals. The Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds currently estimates that there are 5.3 million Jews in the United States or 13 percent fewer than its 1972 estimate of 6.1 million (Putka 1984, p. 1). The fertility rate among American Jews is currently below replacement. About 40 percent of the United States Jewish population is over age 45, compared to about 30 percent of the American population as a whole. As middle-aged and elderly Jews die over the next 25-to-30 years, there will be fewer Jewish children to replenish the ranks (Putka 1984, p. 1). Jewish immigration from the Soviet Union, which helped maintain population levels in the 1970s, has slowed to a trickle. Immigration from Israel, believed by many to be significant, does not appear to result in many permanent United States citizens. Finally, more young Jews are choosing to marry,outside the faith.

Still, despite these negative demographic trends, the United Jewish Appeal (UJA), the umbrella organization for many Jewish charitable projects in the United States and abroad, continues to be envied by other charities for its effectiveness. UJA's annual budget is about one-third the size of that for the national United Way's (Levin 1983, p. 1). More than one-half of the money collected goes to Israel, providing a major portion of that country's social-welfare budget; most of the rest remains in the United States to be used by Jewish social, educational and community groups and projects (Levin 1983, p. 1).

Jewish pride in the accomplishments of the State of Israel provides one, though not the only, reason for charitable giving among Jews. Overlying the tradition of altruism rooted in the religious beliefs of Jews are a series of contemporary issues and trends which may affect giving behavior. Caring for the aged, poor and helpless, fear of anti-Semitism and guilt associated with the Holocaust are issues on which Jewish givers can be "educated" to identify with for purposes of fund-raising (Levin 1983, p. 1). Individuals can be shown that through giving money to Jewish institutions, the Jewish community can be protected against persecution and attack (Levin 1983, p. 12).

In recent years, fund-raising activity has become increasingly difficult for national umbrella organizations like UJA as well as for local Jewish organizations. Organizations find that they no longer can expect simply to ask for money in order to receive it. Israel's invasion of Lebanon, the continued cultural assimilation of American Jews, as well as the demographic trends cited above have forced Jewish organizations to look closely at their fund-raising activities and to develop strategies to maximize charitable giving among Jews. This study results from one aspect of these efforts as they are carried out in a single American Jewish community.

THE STUDY POPULATION: THE JEWISH COMMUNITY OF TOLEDO, OHIO

Toledo, Ohio, a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) of about 230,000 households and 617,,000 people, is located in northwestern Ohio, almost 70 miles southwest of Detroit, Michigan. The Jewish community maintains three synagogues, one each of Orthodox, Conservative and Reform orientation. The Toledo Jewish Welfare Federation (TJWF) maintains a mailing list of approximately 2,500 households in the Toledo MSA. It=s from this list that a sample of 300 households was randomly drawn. A lengthy telephone interview was completed with an adult, randomly selected when necessary, in each of 286 of the selected households. Validity checks conducted against synagogue membership lists, Sunday school enrollments and the residential zip code distribution of the TJWF mailing list convinces us that the sample group closely mirrors the broader Toledo Jewish Community.

DEMOGRAPHICS

Table I describes some basic demographic characteristics of the sample population. Females dominated in the sample constituting 59.8 percent of those interviewed. Almost two-of-three respondents (67.1%) reported themselves as being 45 years of age or older -- fully one-third (33.2%) were 64 years of age or older. Average family size in the sample was 2.46. Two-thirds of the interviewees were married; 17.5 percent were widowed. Almost 40 percent (38.9".') of the females were in the labor force (full-time, part-time or self-employed) with 20.1 percent retired and 34.6 percent describing themselves as homemakers. The modal category of occupations for the females was "professional, technical." Eight-in-ten of the males were in the labor force with one- third being in professional or technical occupations. Median household income was $30,150; 32.5 percent of the households had income of $40.000 or more.

RELIGIOUS ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIORS

Table 2 shows selected religions attitudinal and behavioral data on the sample population. Almost 90 percent (89.5.) of the respondents reported being affiliated with a synagogue. Synagogue attendance was another matter. Less than one-third (32.4.) of males interviewed reported attending synagogue either regularly or frequently. The comparable figure f or female respondents was 36.7 percent. Virtually all respondents indicated memberships in one or more Jewish organizations; 67.1 percent were members of three or more Jewish organizations. A minority of males reported saying Kiddush regularly or frequently (38.0.); 46.4 percent of the adult females reported lighting Sabbath candles on a regular or frequent basis. Finally, each person interviewed was asked to indicate the strength of his or her religious beliefs. Virtually one-half (49.6.) of the respondents reported that their religious beliefs were strong; 14.0 percent indicated that these beliefs were not very strong at all.

TABLE 1

SELECTED DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SAMPLE POPULATION

TABLE 2

SELECTED RELIGIOUS ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIORS OF THE SAMPLE POPULATION

CHARITABLE GIVING: A PRELIMINARY ANALYSIS

The key dependent variable in this study is the respondent's estimate of the household's total dollar contribution to charity during the past year (TOTCHR). Forty-four respondents (15.4%) refused to provide information on this item and were excluded from the analysis. Responses on TOTCHR were trichotomized into three approximately equal-sized groups: under $250 (N=81); $250 to $999 (N=1/5); and $1000 and over (N=86). A considerable array of the demographic, religious attitudinal and behavioral indicators described above were run against TOTCHR to test for statistical association. Most showed little or no statistical association with charitable giving. Thus, we limit our discussion to two variables: family income and memberships in Jewish organizations.

An easy and implicit hypothesis that Many fundraisers make is that people who have more income make more charitable contributions. Table 3 shows the result of a cross -tabu iat ion between family income (FAMINC) and TOTCHR in the Toledo Jewish community. FAMINC was divided into three almost equally sized categories: under $20,000 (.N=63); $20,000 to $39,999 (N=625; and $40,000 and over (N-58). The chi square value of 89.027 was highly significant and gamma =.795. Clearly, the hypothesis is supported by the data.

TABLE 3

CROSS-TABULATION BETWEEN FAMILY INCOME (FAMINC) AND TOTAL DOLLAR CONTRIBUTION TO CHARITY DURING THE PAST YEAR (TOTCHR)

A conventional wisdom in the fund-raising community is that those individuals who are active participants in community organizations are more likely to make charitable contributions to community organizations. A competing wisdom is that people make contributions in lieu of active participation in the community. A test of these competing wisdoms was carried out employing the number of Jewish community organizational memberships (JEWORG) as a measure of community organizational participation. Table 4 presents the result of a cross -tabulation between JEWORG and TOTCHR. JEWORG was also divided into three approximately equal groups: two or f ewer memberships; three or four memberships; and five or more memberships. As the table indicates, there is a strong positive association between the total amount of charitable contribution and the number of Jewish organizational memberships (gamma = .647). About two-thirds (66.3.) of those donating $1,000 or more had memberships in five or more Jewish community organizations while a similar proportion (61.7.) of those donating under $250 had few, if any, organization memberships in the Jewish community.

TABLE 4

CROSS-TABULATION BETWEEN NUMBER OF JEWISH COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONAL MEMBERSHIP (JEWORG) AND TOTAL DOLLAR CONTRIBUTION TO CHARITY DURING THE PAST YEAR (TOTCHR)

One possible explanation of the relationship between JEWORG and TOTCHR is that people with more organizational memberships have higher income than those with fewer organizational memberships-, and, it is higher income that leads to larger charitable donations. This explanation is especially salient given the significant statistical relationship between JEWORG and FAMINC (chi square = 15.016, d.f. 4, p. <.01).

As a final component of this preliminary analysis, JEWORG and TOTCHR were again cross-tabulated employing FAMINC as a test factor. FAMINC failed to explain the relationship between JEWORG and TOTCHR. In sum, even when controlling for family income, the original relationship between Jewish organizational memberships and total charitable contributions remained a statistically significant one. This shows that FAMINC and JEWORG, though related to each other, are independently associated with TOTCHR.

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

The primary purpose of this paper is to report on the charitable giving behavior of an urban Jewish population in the midwestern USA. Though placed within the broader context of consumer behavior research, this paper avoided a traditional marketing approach and emphasized the givers and why and how much they give, rather than the methods organizations employ to elicit charitable contributions.

Data for this analysis was collected as part of a larger study of the Jewish population in the Toledo, Ohio MSA in 1982. The demographic characteristics as well as some religious attitudinal and behavioral measures of a random sample of Toledo, Ohio Jews were f irst described. A preliminary analysis of charitable giving behavior followed. Both family income (FAMINC) and membership in Jewish organizations (JEWORG) were found to be strongly and positively related to the total charitable contributions (TOTCHR) made in the past year. Importantly, although JEWORG and FAMINC are statistically associated, their relationships with TOTCHR are independent. That is, FAMINC does not explain the association between JEWORG and FAMINC.

Providing fund-raisers with statistical evidence that -people with high income make more charitable contributions than those with low income is only to describe a reality with which those fund-raisers are likely already quite familiar. To point out that those with memberships in Jewish organizations give more to charity than those with fewer memberships may be another matter, especially when it is argued that the effect of memberships on giving occurs independently of family income. In essence, such a finding suggests that fund-raisers may it sell" organizational membership (and likely concomitant participation and involvement) as a device for raising charitable funds.

Hopefully, additional analysis may identify other demographic, religious attitudinal and behavioral factors which may be associated with charitable giving among Toledo, Ohio's Jews. Further analysis may also help determine the relative power of JEWORG and FAMINC for explaining variation in TOTCHR. This is a necessary first step in determining whether there are universal "explainers" of charitable giving across diverse ethnic/racial/religious groups.

REFERENCES

Kotler, Phillip (1981), Marketing for Nonprofit Organizations (2nd ed), New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Levin, Doron P. (1983), "Anguished Appeal: Jewish Charities Raise Huge Sums in the U.S. But Resistance Grows -- Some Big Givers Quit Giving Because of Israel Policies; How the Solicitors Work -- Pressurer at a Country Club", The Wall Street Journal, (April 1).

Putka, Gary (1984), "American Judaism: As Jewish Population Falls in the U.S. Leaders Seek to Reverse Trend -- Reform, Orthodox Groups Split Over What To Do; A Surge in Intermarriage -- 'Issue Is Our Group Survival'", The Wall Street Journal, (April 13).

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Authors

Alan B. Flaschner, The University of Toledo
Cary S. Kart, The University of Toledo



Volume

SV - Historical Perspective in Consumer Research: National and International Perspectives | 1985



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