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The Mormon tradition of tithing is a primary reason residents of this state well outpace those in every other place in America. The typical household claimed charitable contributions totaling 10.6 percent of discretionary income. That’s nearly 3.5 percentage points ahead of the number for its nearest rival. Utah is also the hands-down winner when it comes to the rate of volunteering. Forty-five percent of its residents volunteered in 2008. (Nebraska, at 40 percent, ranked No. 2.) The state is home to Salt Lake City, which tops the rankings of the 50 biggest metropolitan areas in terms of generosity.
The average Mississippi household donated 7.2 percent of its discretionary income to charity. Residents are more likely to give cash than time: They volunteered at a rate of 21 percent, below the national average of 26 percent.
The locally allocated share of the 7.1 percent of discretionary income that Alabama’s typical household gives to charity is distributed to a relatively small number of nonprofits. The state has only 0.7 registered nonprofits per 1,000 residents—the seventh-lowest rate in the country.
Residents of the Volunteer State aren’t actually more generous in volunteering than people of other states. About 25 percent of Tennesseans volunteered in 2008, slightly below the national average of 26 percent. When it comes to donating cash, a typical household gives 6.6 percent of its discretionary income. Memphis is the second-most generous urban area among the 50 biggest metropolitan areas, and its capital city of Nashville ranks No. 4.
5. South Carolina
South Carolina is home to just two charities in the Philanthropy 400, Christian Blind Mission International and the University of South Carolina, but its residents are among the most generous, donating on average about 6.4 percent of their discretionary income.
None of the nation’s 400 largest charities hail from Idaho, yet its residents are among the nation’s most generous with both time and money. Idaho households gave 6.4 percent of their discretionary income to charity in 2008, and 32 percent of its residents reported that they volunteered with a nonprofit—well above the national rate of 26 percent.
Former President Bill Clinton gets a lot of headlines for his philanthropy, but generous giving in Arkansas doesn’t end with him. Its households donated 6.3 percent of their discretionary income on average to charity, and their estimated median charitable contribution of $3,554 ranks in the top five nationally.
The Peachtree State is home to three of the nation’s 20 largest nonprofits: the American Cancer Society, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Habitat for Humanity International. It also has generous donors: Typical households donated 6.2 percent of their discretionary income to charity, and the state’s capital, Atlanta, ranks No. 5 in generosity among the biggest metropolitan areas.
9. North Carolina
North Carolina is one of the few states that tops the rankings not just in percentage of discretionary income but also in total dollars donated. Its residents claimed nearly $4.3-billion in contributions, the ninth-highest total nationally. The average household contributed 5.9 percent of its discretionary income to charity. The state’s Charlotte metropolitan area ranks No. 6 in generosity among America’s biggest metropolitan areas.
Maryland scores high across the board in its giving. Its residents claimed more than $3.8-billion in charitable contributions in 2008, ranking the state 11th in total contributions. Its typical household contributed 5.7 percent of its discretionary income to charity.
The state’s typical household claimed charitable contributions totaling about 5.6 percent of its discretionary income. Donations were fueled by the residents of Oklahoma City, which ranks No. 7 among metropolitan areas with the most-generous residents.
Louisiana households donated on average 5.3 percent of their discretionary income to charity, but those making more than $200,000 in discretionary income gave relatively less. Their giving rate, at 3.7 percent, was below the 4.2 percent national average for other people who earn this much nationwide. New Orleans ranked No. 18 in generosity compared with other large metropolitan areas.
Texans reported charitable contributions totaling more than $10.7-billion in 2008—third in the nation, behind California and New York. The state also scored well on contributions a typical household made as a percentage of discretionary income: 5.1 percent. Three of its cities rank high on the list of generous metropolitan areas: Dallas is No. 9, Houston (13), and San Antonio (19).
Total contributions of more than $4.2-billion ranked Virginia No. 10 in the United States. Volunteer efforts in the state were higher than the national average, at 29 percent. Percentage of discretionary income donated by typical households: 4.8 percent.
The average donation by a household in the Bluegrass State was roughly 4.8 percent of discretionary income.
A typical Kansas household donated 4.8 percent of its discretionary income to charity. Kansans also rank high in donations of time: 36 percent volunteer, well above the national average of 26 percent.
17. New York
New York ranked behind only California in total charitable contributions, with more than $11.2-billion in reported donations. Despite the large number of wealthy households in the state, the typical rate of giving is average, at 4.7 of discretionary income. New York contains the ZIP codes with the largest total contributions and highest median contribution in the country. ZIP code 10021 (Manhattan’s Upper East Side) contributed more in total dollars than any other place in the country, providing $478-million.
The state ranks at about the middle on all measures: median contributions, volunteer rate, and giving as a share of discretionary income, which was 4.6 percent.
Floridians claimed more than $7.4-billion worth of charitable contributions in 2008—a figure that ranks the state No. 4 after California, New York, and Texas. Total discretionary income donated by a typical resident: 4.6 percent.
Oregon ranks in the top half nationally in both volunteerism, at 34 percent, and average charitable contributions as a percentage of discretionary income, at 4.6 percent. Portland ranks No. 25 in giving among the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas.
Hoosiers donated an average of 4.5 percent of their discretionary income to charity and are generous in giving their time: Three in 10 Indianans said they volunteered at a nonprofit organization.
22. New Mexico
A typical household in New Mexico donated 4.5 percent of its discretionary income. The state’s volunteer rate of 30 percent is above the national average.
Michigan residents over all gave nearly $3.8-billion to charity. A typical household donated 4.5 percent of its discretionary income. Detroit ranked No. 27 in giving among large metropolitan areas.
Hawaiians with $50,000 to $100,000 in discretionary income typically gave 6.1 percent of it to charity, more than most people in the same income bracket nationwide. Hawaiians who earned more than $200,000 in discretionary income were a different story: They donated on average 3.4 percent of that income, ranking them the seventh lowest in that income category. Among the state’s residents over all, the typical household donation level was 4.5 percent of discretionary income.
Nationally, nearly $1 out of every $8 given to charity comes from California, and the state ranks first over all in total charitable contributions. Individually, Californians are average in their level of giving, with the typical household donating 4.4 percent of discretionary income. The state’s biggest cities show a big disparity in giving rates among the largest metropolitan areas: Los Angeles ranks No. 12, followed by Riverside (15), Sacramento (36), San Diego (39), and San Francisco (43).
Households in Missouri gave an average of 4.4 percent of their discretionary income, but residents ranked higher than the national average on volunteerism; 29 percent as opposed to 26 percent nationally.
Typical households in the state donated 4.4 percent of their discretionary income to charity.
Alaskans are generous with their time: 37 percent of the state’s residents volunteered, compared with 26 percent nationally. But residents in this sparsely populated state rank below the national average in terms of median contribution as a percentage of discretionary income, with the typical household giving 4.3 percent.
Illinois residents provided more than $6-billion in charitable gifts, the fifth-highest level in the country. The state’s typical household donated 4.2 percent of its discretionary income to charities.
A typical Colorado household gave 4.2 percent of its discretionary income to charity. The state has some of America’s top fundraising groups, including Compassion International, which collected more money from private sources than all but 25 other groups in 2010, according to The Chronicle’s Philanthropy 400. Other big charities in the state include Young Life, Focus on the Family, Junior Achievement Worldwide, and the United States Olympic Committee.
The average household donation in Wyoming represented 4.2 percent of discretionary income, only slightly below the national average. But Wyoming residents are very giving of their time: Three in 10 had done some volunteer work.
Charitable contributions in Nebraska were on average 4.1 percent of discretionary household income. Warren Buffett’s giving habits may have an influence on people making more than $200,000; their donations totaled 5.3 percent of discretionary income, compared with 4.2 percent for people at that income level nationwide.
More than one third of Washington residents volunteer, well ahead of the national average of 26 percent. But the typical household was below the national average in terms of contributions as a percentage of discretionary income. Residents in Washington gave at a rate of 4.1 percent.
The typical household in the state gave 4.1 percent of its discretionary income to
35. South Dakota
Residents of South Dakota reported charitable contributions totaling $266.3-million. That figure was the third lowest of all states, putting South Dakota ahead of only Vermont and North Dakota. The state’s small population is clearly a significant factor in that limited giving. On average, households in the state gave 4.1 percent of discretionary income to charity.
Ohio and its neighbor Pennsylvania have nearly identical charity profiles. Both states have 1.1 registered nonprofits per 1,000 people. Ohioans, however, have a slight edge in charitable contributions as a percentage of their discretionary income, donating 4.1 percent compared with 3.9 percent for Pennsylvanians.
Only Vermont has a higher concentration of charities than Montana, which has 1.8 registered nonprofits per 1,000 people. Those charities are supported by residents who are very giving of their time. More than one third of Montana residents said they volunteered. Typical households in the state donated 4 percent of their discretionary income to charity.
38. West Virginia
An average West Virginian household gave 3.9 percent of its discretionary income to charities.
Typical households in the Keystone State claimed charitable contributions totaling 3.9 percent of their income.
With a volunteerism rate of 38 percent, Iowa ranks behind only Utah and Nebraska nationally. Over all, the typical household donated 3.9 percent of its discretionary income to charity, well below the national average. The rate of giving among Iowans making $50,000 to $100,000 in discretionary income annually was 4.4 percent—eighth worst in the country for that income category.
Average households in the state gave 3.9 percent of their discretionary income to charity. Its residents have a lower-than-average level of volunteerism: 21 percent, compared with 26 percent nationally.
42. New Jersey
With more than $4.5-billion in contributions, New Jersey ranks eighth in total giving. But the share of discretionary income donated by typical households is relatively low, at 3.7 percent.
43. North Dakota
The rate of volunteerism in North Dakota was an impressive 35 percent in 2008. But its average household charitable contributions accounted for just 3.5 percent of discretionary income—the lowest figure of any state west of the Mississippi River.
An average Wisconsin household claimed contributions totaling 3.4 percent of discretionary income.
Connecticut ranks first among New England states in giving as a percentage of discretionary income, but the state’s 3.3-percent rate is well below the national average of 26 percent.
46. Rhode Island
A typical household in the Ocean State gave 3.1 percent of discretionary income to charity.
Donations to charity were 2.8 percent of discretionary income for typical households. About 24 percent of the state’s residents engaged in volunteer activities, slightly below the national average of 26 percent.
Despite its low percentage of discretionary income donated by the average resident (2.8 percent), Vermont ranks No. 1 in terms of the number of registered nonprofits per 1,000 residents. Vermont has two registered nonprofits per 1,000 people. The national average is 1.2.
A typical household in Maine gave 2.8 percent of its discretionary income to charity. Residents earning $50,000 to $100,000 donated, on average, 3.3 percent, a rate much lower than for people in other states with the same level of income. Only New Hampshire ranked lower on that measure.
50. New Hampshire
The typical household in the state reported charitable contributions totaling 2.5 percent of discretionary income. Residents contributed a median of $1,497, ranking New Hampshire at No. 49, ahead of only Maine.
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Note: Rankings are based on itemized charitable contributions as a share of income after excluding taxes, housing, and other necessities. Information is taken from tax returns of people who earned at least $50,000 in 2008. Percentages are rounded.