News and analysis
October 10, 2013

Jews Are Twice as Likely to Leave Bequests Than Non-Jews

Twenty-three percent of American Jews have provided for charities in their wills, nearly twice as many as people who don’t follow that faith, according to a study released today.

Jews were also more likely to have wills—74 percent of them do, compared with 60 percent of non-Jews.

What’s more, the study found that the people most likely to leave a bequest to any kind of charity, not just Jewish nonprofits, were Jews who are connected to their tradition—such as those who attend synagogue, take part in Jewish civic organizations, or travel to Israel.

Forty-five percent of Jews who belong to Jewish organizations make planned gifts, the study found, compared with 15 percent of Jews who don’t belong to a faith-based group.

Young Jews and Planned Gifts

The findings echo those in a previous report also by Jumpstart and a consortium of private foundations, community funds, and Jewish federations. That report in Jumpstart’s Connected to Give series, released in August, studied overall giving behavior by Jewish donors, and found a strong correlation between involvement in Jewish life and increased support of all kinds of charities.

After reviewing the giving behavior of more than 1,000 people, just over 600 of them Jewish, the survey found that young Jews are slightly more likely than older Jews to made a planned gift, even though a smaller percentage of the younger generation have completed a will. Sixty-eight percent of Jews in their 40s told researchers they had a will, and of those, 26 percent said they had made a planned gift; by contrast, 87 percent of Jews age 65 or over had wills, but only 22 percent had made a planned gift.

Researchers said that finding suggests that fundraisers should focus on talking to young members of Jewish organizations about their estate plans, said Shawn Landres, chief executive of Jumpstart and a co-author of the report.

“There’s a real opportunity to talk to people at lower incomes about planned giving,” said Mr. Landres. “This is a conversation that should be happening earlier. It’s never too early.”

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