Social Class, Ideology, and Money

By Sidney Cahn

Jewish Communal Service Association of North America (JCSA), National Conference of Jewish Communal Service, Spring 1964

The author describes the development of Jewish philanthropy in the United States and how it closely paralleled that of Protestant philanthropy in structure, content and ideology. The important Jewish contribution to American philanthropy was federation, and it was the federations that finally became the locus of communal power. The fund-raising capacity of federations follow the general law: the campaign level is determined by the social stratum of the power structure, and by the number and visibility of the "deserving poor" to be helped. In Jewish federations after 1948 the diminishing visibility of the overseas "deserving poor" resulted in lower campaign price levels. The shift of financing and power to federations caused the service agencies to recruit boards who are divorced from financial responsibility. This divorcement creates tensions and estrangements between the fund-raising and fund-spending groups. Further, an ideological rift developed between the givers and the spenders because the money is not being spent on the "deserving poor," but upon the socially and psychologically disturbed. The author argues that the future of federation and fund-raising will be determined by the federations' ability to heal this rift, to merge once again financial responsibility with decision-making authority, and to develop a different ideological base for fund-raising. One partial solution to these problems may be federations' operating supplementary campaigns for local services and a slow, gradual shifting campaign emphasis to psychological and social dislocations.

Topic: Socioeconomic Status, History, Organizational Development, Philanthropy and Fundraising, Development, Jewish Federations, Allocations, Poverty, Fundraising and Philanthropy

Name of Publication: Journal of Jewish Communal Service

Editor: Sherman, Sanford N.

Volume/Issue: Vol. 40/No. 3

Page Number(s): 280-288

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Genre: Article

Coverage: United States

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Publisher

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Cahn, Sidney. Social Class, Ideology, and Money. Journal of Jewish Communal Service. Jewish Communal Service Association of North America (JCSA),National Conference of Jewish Communal Service. Spring 1964: 280-288.


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