NEW YORK, Oct. 30 (JTA) — American Jewish organizations rated as significant fund-raising powerhouses last year, bringing in more money than the year before.
But they did not grow as fast as other top U.S. philanthropies.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s annual ranking of the top 400 philanthropies in the United States — based on tax forms from 2000 — includes 25 Jewish organizations and institutions.
The rankings — released this week and based on data collected during a time of unprecedented peace and prosperity in the United States — do not reflect the current challenges many philanthropies are now anticipating in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the faltering U.S. economy.
Some Jewish organizations jumped in their rankings, including the Jewish Communal Fund in New York and the Jewish Federation of MetroWest, N.J.
But for every group that increased its ranking, there were more Jewish philanthropies — including several major federations, Hadassah: The Women’s Zionist Organization of America and the Jewish National Fund — that saw their rankings decline.
Beyond the rankings, most Jewish groups listed increased their totals last year, but not at the same overall rate of increase of 13 percent for American charitable groups.
The Jewish federation system saw several drops in ranking, with federations in New York, Detroit, Boston, San Francisco and Palm Beach, Fla., all going down in the list.
At the same time, MetroWest, N.J., joined the list for the first time, while the Cleveland, Los Angeles and Miami federations saw their rankings increase.
Chicago’s federation remained in the same slot.
Among the more dramatic changes in the federation world was that the Jewish Communal Fund in New York, an offshoot of the New York federation that allows donors to create their own foundations and endowments for a variety of charitable causes, surpassed the federation in size and ranking.
The fund, which reported $173.5 million in private donations, essentially swapped positions with the federation, ranking 52 compared to the federation’s 62. Last year, the federation was 53, while the fund was 61.
One of the highest-ranked Jewish organizations — American Friends of Bar-Ilan University — turned out to be there in error.
In a misunderstanding caused by the fact that the university is chartered in New York, rather than in Israel, Bar-Ilan’s entire budget — $120.2 million — was reported, rather than the approximately $20 million the school raises in the United States, according to a Bar-Ilan official.
Another institution under modern Orthodox auspices, Yeshiva University in New York, jumped from 264 to 170. However, the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary, disappeared from the list, after ranking 253 last year.
American “friends of” several Israeli institutions — including American Friends of Tel Aviv University, which was not on the list last year, American Friends of Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science — also jumped in their rankings.
While many Jewish leaders have long worried that American Jewish support for Israel is waning, experts on Jewish philanthropy say these statistics show that American Jewish giving to Israeli causes is increasing.
“Jewish giving to Israel remains very strong and it’s just going in more directed avenues,” said Gary Tobin, president of the San Francisco-based Institute for Jewish and Community Research.
One of the largest drops in the federation world — the United Jewish Communities’ plunge from seventh largest philanthropy to 33rd — was attributed to accounting errors the Chronicle of Philanthropy made last year.
The UJC is the umbrella for North American Jewish federations. The UJC’s funds come primarily from the Jewish federations, through a combination of dues and money earmarked for national and overseas needs.
It raised approximately $245 million in 2000 — the majority of which was then allocated to the Jewish Agency for Israel. An additional $63 million, which is not included in the tax forms due to technical accounting reasons, were allocated to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
Last year, the Chronicle of Philanthropy double-counted certain revenues, and UJC tax forms included other revenues that are no longer included, according to Jerry Carter, the UJC’s associate vice president for finance and administration.
Adding to the apparent confusion was the fact that last year the UJC had been recently formed from the merger of three other organizations and that last year’s revenues also included back dues from member federations that had accumulated over several years, Carter said.
If one were comparing “apples to apples,” last year’s number should have been $248 million, Carter said, but was instead reported as $524 million.
The Chronicle itself this week adjusted its Web site listings for last year, ranking UJC at 27 rather than seven.
However, Carter and other UJC officials said, the tax form numbers are less significant in measuring the health of the federation system than is the fact that the federation system collectively raised $2.9 billion in 2000, up from $2.4 billion in 1999.
That included money from annual campaigns and endowments.
Tobin, who has studied American Jewish philanthropic trends, said overall, this year’s rankings show that “Jewish philanthropies are holding their own.”
Tobin said the ranking also illustrates an ongoing trend, of Jewish philanthropists increasing donations to endowments and communal foundations, like the New York one, while federation annual campaigns decline as a percentage of total Jewish giving.
However, despite the fluctuations, “the fact that 25 Jewish organizations are on that list at all is remarkable given the size of the Jewish population,” Tobin said.
“We may look from the inside at who’s on and who’s not, and who’s increasing and who’s declining,” Tobin said. “But to the rest of the philanthropic world, the exact names and amounts matter less than that the list is filled with successful Jewish philanthropies.”
Tobin also cautioned against reading too much into the fluctuations of various groups, noting that a sudden increase in one year “could be the result of one or two huge gifts” or a capital campaign.
TOP U.S. JEWISH PHILANTHROPIES
NEW YORK, Oct. 30, (JTA) — The following organizations ranked among the top U.S. philanthropies:
Organization (rank) Private Support Private Support
Raised in 2001 Raised in 2000
United Jewish Communities (33) $245.3 $248.6
Jewish Communal Fund (52) $173.5 $145.7
United Jewish Appeal-Federation
of Jewish Philanthropies of New York (62) $157.1 $156.9
Jewish Federation/ Jewish United Fund
of Metropolitan Chicago (110) $109.5 $97.3
United Jewish Foundation and Jewish Federation
of Metropolitan Detroit (159) $81.2 $73.6
Yeshiva University (170) $77.2 $41.3
Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco,
the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties (192) $72.0 $65.3
Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization
of America (196) $70.6 $66.9
Jewish Federation Council
of Greater Los Angeles (200) $68.4 $50.1
Brandeis University (216) $61.7 $43.5
Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland (222) $60.5 $43.1
American Committee for the Weizmann Institute
of Science (247) $53.8 $42.1
United Jewish Federation of MetroWest (248) $53.4 –-
Combined Jewish Philanthropies
of Greater Boston (266) $47.6 $44.1
Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith (270) $47.0 $38.6
Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia (285) $43.4 $62.3
American Friends of the Hebrew University (306) $40.3 $33.0
Jewish Community Foundation (311) $39.7 –-
P.E.F. Israel Endowment Funds (319) $38.3 $38.5
American Society for Technion-Israel
Institute of Technology (322) $37.7 $40.0
Greater Miami Jewish Federation (337) $36.7 $26.5
American Friends of Tel Aviv University (364) $33.7 –-
American Jewish Committee (379) $32.3 $28.9
Jewish National Fund (383) $31.8 $28.9
Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County (394) $30.8 $29.6