The Forward reports: The American Jewish community’s network of charity organizations is a font of Jewish power, a source of communal pride and a huge mystery.
We know that the network exists. We know that its federations, social service groups and advocacy organizations influence America’s domestic and foreign policy, care for the old, educate the young and send more than a billion dollars a year to Israel.
Yet until now we’ve had no idea what the network looks like.
Individual organizations file tax returns. Some umbrella groups offer information on their members’ work. But no one has measured the network as a whole: how much it spends, how much it raises, how it prioritizes causes, how much it gets from the government.
Now, the Forward has identified and reviewed tax documents filed by more than 3,600 Jewish organizations in the most comprehensive survey ever of the financial workings of this Jewish tax-exempt ecosystem. And the results are striking.
The Forward’s investigation has uncovered a tax-exempt Jewish communal apparatus that operates on the scale of a Fortune 500 company and focuses the largest share of its donor dollars on Israel.
This analysis doesn’t include synagogues and other groups that avoid revealing their financial information by claiming a religious exemption. But even without this substantial sector, the Jewish community’s federations, schools, health care and social service organizations, Israel aid groups, cultural and communal organizations, and advocacy groups report net assets of $26 billion.
That’s more than the Las Vegas Sands Corp., which owns casinos all over the world. It’s about the same as the CBS Corp. which owns 29 TV stations, 126 radio stations, the CBS Television Network and Simon & Schuster. The Jewish communal network of tax-exempt groups employs as many people as the Ford Motor Co.
And its $12 billion to $14 billion in annual revenue is more than the federal government’s 2014 appropriation to the U.S. Department of the Interior, which manages a fifth of all the land in the United States, runs the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the national parks, and administers Guam, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands. [Continue reading…]