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Find Out How Your Community Ranks in Charitable Donations

The Chronicle of Philanthropy has released detailed information on philanthropy by state, county, town and ZIP Code after comparing 2008 U.S. tax returns for charitable giving.

Ever wonder how your community and neighbors compare in the generosity to charities?

The Chronicle of Philanthropy's "How America Gives" study gives an in-depth look at how Pennsylvania, Allegheny County, , r, and compare to the rest of the region and country.

The study is based on exact dollar amounts released by the Internal Revenue Service that show the value of charitable deductions claimed by American taxpayers in 2008. 

The Chronicle’s rankings show the percentage of their income that households donated from the money they had left after paying their taxes and covering housing, food, and other essential expenses.

Detailed data is searchable by ZIP Code if you click on this link.

Among the study's major findings:

  • Rich people who live in wealthy, relatively homogeneous enclaves give a smaller share of their incomes to charity than rich people who live in diverse communities.
  • People who live in politically conservative, "red states" are more generous than those in liberal or "blue states" when religious giving is included.
  • Lower-income people give a far bigger share of their discretionary income to charities than wealthy people. People who make between $50,000 and $75,000 give an average of 7.6 percent of their discretionary income to charity, compared with an average of 4.2 percent for people who make $100,000 or more.
  • People who live in red states are more generous than those who live in blue states. The top eight most-generous states in regions of the country that are deeply religious are more generous than those that are not. Two of the top 10 states—Utah and Idaho—have high numbers of Mormon residents, who tithe more consistently than other churchgoers. The remaining states in the top 10 are all in the Bible Belt.
  • Many cities and states in the Northeast, the least-religious region of the country are on the bottom level for giving.
  • However, if one were to exclude religious giving from the survey, some states in the Northeast would jump into the top 10, including Pennsylvania.
  • State policies, such as tax credits, that promote giving can make a significant difference, and in some cases are influencing the rankings. 

Local groups have felt the effects of the economy, which has made giving more important than ever.

"During time of large-scale disaster, we are fortunately that our local community steps up to help us meet our financial goals and needs," said Lauren Chapman, regional communications officer for the American Red Cross. "In quieter times, however, donations slow a bit since the Red Cross is not in the spotlight. While this never presents us from fulfilling out mission out in the community on a daily basis, we are very much appreciative of the support we receive."

While the survey doesn't show incomes under $50,000, the generosity doesn't necessarily stop because of lower income. Sue Kerr, who heads the Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project, sees that happen with her nonprofit drive to collect tote bags for food bank customers to carry their groceries.

"I've received more than one message from a donor currently using a food pantry for their family, thanking us for the opportunity to help by donating a bag—folks who don't have disposable income or food to donate find creative ways to give back."

And the efforts of small businesses also aren't accounted for in the survey.

Concepts Management in Forest Hills donated corporate tote bags last fall, organized a tote drive during the holidays and have made a pledge of hundreds of bags for Hunger Action Month this year, Kerr said. .

A realtor in Peters Township organized a tote drive, collected the most totes during the holidays and who also organized a drive. That prize was two box-seat tickets to a Penguins game.

Robinson Town Centre named the Tote Bag Project the beneficiary of its Earth Day raffle and generated hundreds of totes during their Earth Day event.

When Cassandra's Floral in Dormont closed its shop doors, the owner, who is now a concierge florist, donated her excess promotional tote bags to help others.

Guest August 21, 2012 at 12:43 PM
I sure hope next year it does not say the state Obama won

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