6 revealing stats about Jewish nonprofits and the people who work for them


Jewish nonprofit workers are inspired, respected and challenged. They’re also stretched thin, lack regular feedback from their bosses and are itching to switch agencies.

Those are some lessons from “Are Jewish Organizations Great Places to Work?” a study released Thursday by Leading Edge, a partnership of Jewish foundations and federations aiming to draw talented employees to the Jewish nonprofit sector. The study, which interviewed more than 3,000 Jewish nonprofit employees at 55 organizations, painted a picture of an industry in flux — filled with passionate, yet transitory, staff members.

Here are the report’s key takeaways.

About one percent of America’s Jews works in a Jewish nonprofit

There are almost 10,000 Jewish nonprofits in the U.S., with more than 75,000 employees. The field spans anything from synagogues to federations to social service organizations and, according to a 2014 report by the Forward, has a combined budget exceeding $26 billion. By comparison, approximately 3.5 percent of Americans in total work at a nonprofit.

Many Jewish nonprofit workers are young women — and one in five isn’t Jewish

Two-thirds of Jewish nonprofit employees are women, and most employees are under 40. One in 20 did not specify a gender. Perhaps most surprising: 22 percent of Jewish professionals aren’t Jewish.

By 2023, almost all of today’s Jewish nonprofit directors will be replaced

Abe Foxman, former national director of the Anti-Defamation League, stepped down from his post last year after nearly three decades at the group’s helm. But he’s the exception rather than the rule. According to the survey, Jewish groups have a high rate of turnover at the top. In addition, within five to seven years, 75 to 90 percent of Jewish nonprofits will have to replace their retiring CEOs.

Employees like where they work…

Here’s the good news for Jewish nonprofits: More than employees at the average U.S. nonprofit, Jewish nonprofit workers feel “motivated by the mission of their organization and understand how their specific job contributes to it.” Jewish nonprofit workers also feel, on average, 10 percent more respected and nine percent more challenged than nonprofit employees overall, according to the survey.

…but most plan to work somewhere else

Just because they like their work doesn’t mean employees will stay at their organizations. Compared to surveys of nonprofit employees overall, Jewish nonprofit workers feel like they’re not held as accountable and are not adequately staffed. Within the next five years, 60 percent plan to move to another organization — though most respondents plan to stay in the Jewish nonprofit sector for more than five years.

15 percent of Jewish nonprofit workers make under $30,000

The survey covered a range of salaries, starting with a handful of executives who earn more than $350,000. But the plurality of Jewish nonprofit workers earn $40,000 to $50,000. Not all are so lucky: approximately 15 percent of the field earns under $30,000 per year.

Taken together, the survey depicts a Jewish nonprofit sector whose backbone is formed by women who are driven by mission and earning relatively low wages, eager to serve but often frustrated by management.

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