American Jewish World Service (AJWS) - its work and its effectiveness

American Jewish World Service (AWJS) embraces the Jewish imperative of tikkun olam—the repairing of the world—and tzedakah—charity—through a program that operates across 35 countries and that works towards combating hunger, poverty, ignorance, intolerance, and disease. I've been a supporter for the past couple of years and am proud of the work they do for people in need, without regard to race, religion, or nationality.

With a 4-star rating on Charity Navigator for 9 years, AWJS does an admirable job of running efficiently, with 86% of revenues being used on program expenses.

What are those programs? AJWS funds 388 grassroots organizations at current count, that work to promote disaster relief, education, economic development, community and public health, and social/political change in developing countries.

What kinds of projects does AJWS work on and fund?

Broadly, AJWS divides its activities into these areas:

  • emergency disaster relief: quick response to disasters such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami (it raised $6 million) or the 2009 Haiti earthquake ($6.4 million)
  • grassroot organization support: AJWS supports via grants over 300 organizations in over 30 countries that do work such as empowering women, fostering public health, and encouraging human rights
  • advocacy: AJWS encourages members to lobby their Congresspeople for things like preserving international food aid, fostering peacemaking initiatives, and keeping aid programs that help the rights of women and girls.
  • education: They make a lot of materials available to educators and everyone else. I have used their Passover haggadah supplement to help spark a discussion on contemporary slavery and human trafficking, timely when we're commemorating ancient Hebrews' liberation from the bonds of Egyptian slavery.
  • service/volunteer trips: AJWS helps college students, rabbis and adults volunteer and help NGOs and other organizations they support in countries around the world.

How effective are AJWS's efforts?

With a current Charity Navigator rating of 63.58, AJWS has a 4-star rating, the highest star rating available and something the organization has earned for 9 years (although it did earn a 3-star rating in 2007, so it's clearly making up ground it had lost). AJWS has, fortunately, dropped its proportion of operating expenses on fundraising from 10.4% in 2007 to 6.5% in 2009. In 2009, it was able to disburse $32.5 million dollars across its affiliated organizations. It also has almost $18 million in the bank with which to maintain smooth operations, almost a half-year's worth of working capital at its disposal. A relatively light 6.5% of their total operating expenses are spent on overhead, or administrative expenses (including salaries for employees, facility expenses, etc).

The American Institute of Philanthropy's list of Top-Rated Charities includes AJWS, which it has given a grade of "A" according to its rigorous criteria.

The AJWS is also certified as an accredited charity by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and InterAction, the largest alliance of US-based NGOs (non-governmental organizations).

More by this Author


Comments 11 comments

MelissaBarrett profile image

MelissaBarrett 5 years ago

Awesome hub LL :)I had never heard of AJWS before. Consider me enlightened. And thank you for spreading the word.


Debby Bruck profile image

Debby Bruck 5 years ago

Thank you for letting other Hubbers know of this charity organization that helps everyone in need around the world.


livelonger profile image

livelonger 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thanks, Melissa and Debby!


Eaglekiwi profile image

Eaglekiwi 5 years ago from -Oceania

Informative and easy to read livelonger.Admirable projects with impressive stats.Thank-you.

Go AJWS!


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica

Wow, I learned something new today!

This organization is doing very well and it has obviously helped millions of people around the globe. I suppose that it has a hand in the project now underway in Somalia, where thousands are experiencing famine.

Thanks for the information.


livelonger profile image

livelonger 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thanks, Eaglekiwi and Cardisa! It looks like they do have ongoing work in Somalia: http://ajws.org/where_we_work/africa/somalia/. They also have a big campaign running to provide relief for the famine in east Africa, incl Somalia: http://blogs.ajws.org/blog/2011/08/05/whats-happen...


wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 5 years ago from New York, NY

makes me think of a story I once read. . it goes like this. .

The funeral for the son of the Rabbi of Tshebin was ready just about to start, he looked for his mother but she was no where to be found. He looked all around at the relatives who sat together mourning such a tragic loss. But the rabbi would not begin without his wife. Everyone started to look for her, yet they did not have to look too far. There she was among all the other mourners sitting further back, You see. she was walking among them holding a pushka (charity collection box). They tried to get her back to her seat, but she refused and said "I have a practice of collecting money for the poor at all funerals. They have come to depend upon it. Just because it is my own son who died, why should the poor lose out?"

Its nice to read about how others are coming together in giving - thanks for sharing the magnificent work that the AJWS is doing.


livelonger profile image

livelonger 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

What a beautiful story, Shari, and it expresses nicely the value of tzedakah in Judaism. Thank you for your comment!


Debby Bruck profile image

Debby Bruck 5 years ago

Wonderful story, Shari. People have ingrained character to give when it is habitual. Always thinking of others. Blessings, Debby


livelonger profile image

livelonger 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

Debby - That is exactly how one of our temple's rabbis explains it. :)


RNMSN profile image

RNMSN 5 years ago from Tucson, Az

and the way the Lord explained it as well! :) cool!

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working