Charitable Giving: Which States are the Most Generous?
Every morning walking along the Boston Common on my way to work, I encounter the same group of panhandlers looking for spare change. One gentleman is especially memorable as he serves as the de facto doorman for Dunkin’ Donuts®, holding the door as commuters stop for their daily fix, which 1 in 1.75 (57%) people need. Those days I actually use cash for my morning cup (I am in the 1 in 4.76 that use a debit card for small purchases) I like to give him my change in exchange for his service. In comparison, 1 in 1.87 (53%) of my peers in Denver give to panhandlers at least once a year. I would like to think that Bostonians are at least as generous as the citizens of Denver, but are we really? As it turns out, we are not, but that is the least of our problems when it comes to generosity.
Given the distribution of aggregate income for the US, one might expect that charitable contributions would follow the same distribution. By calculating the percent difference between the distribution of income and the distribution of charitable contribution dollars, a proxy for the relative charity of each state can be estimated. The map above shows this charity score, with green representing a higher level of giving.
Colorado gives around 4.5% less than is expected, handily beating Massachusetts, which has a giving deficit of 17%. Neither state has much to brag about as out of the 50 states plus Washington DC, Massachusetts places 39th while Colorado finishes 25th in order of giving. The model of American charity by far is Utah, which donates approximately 92% more, or about double, the expected amount, which far outpaces the second most generous area, DC, which outgives its expectation by 36%.