The Chronicle of Philanthropy is out with its most recent account of just who’s giving money to charity and where and they’ve put it in convenient info-graphic form on their website. All graphics here are screenshots of the most general categories covering the entire country minus Alaska and Hawaii and the data is all based on IRS and Census information.
What it reveals is that there are basically three groups of people that give money to charity, Utah, Southerners, and Mid-Westerners, in that order. Everyone else in the country gives less and, just as interesting, the richer you are anywhere in the U.S., the less likely you are to give money to charity. At a time of expanding income inequality that’s a bit of an interesting datapoint. Additionally, irrespective of geographic area, the poor give overwhelmingly more of their income to charities than any other economic group in the country.
Next are those firmly in the Middle Class although here’s where the geography of giving begins to change. We have a lot of closed wallets in the Northeast and out West.
As we move up the income ladder to the 50k-75k category, that trend continues.
And so on into 75k-100k territory. It’s basically down to the South and Utah in terms of 4% giving and above.
And once we hit the 100k-200k range, only Southerners and Utah’s overwhelming Mormon population are giving anything at all.
However, once we hit the 200k+ arena, no one is really giving much of anything anymore.
Now this report has already been picked apart in several places on the internet where the rationale for the high giving numbers in Utah, the South, and Mid-West is that it’s because they’re religious and giving to churches.
This is, of course, true, but I’ve yet to understand how not being religious would keep anyone from giving to causes they cared about in numbers equal to religious people.
Additionally, while the poor are generally more religious in the U.S. than the wealthy, if you look at the “up to $25,000” graphic (2nd from the top), it makes me wonder if the poor don’t give more because they know what it’s like to be in need. It also makes me wonder if people tend to give less when they feel they don’t have as much need. There’s definitely an “I got mine” trend in this data that seems mitigated by only two things, religion and being poor.
So there you have it, religious poor people are the most generous people in the entire country and, as you go up the scale, Mormons in Utah, Southerners, and Mid-Westerners are the most generous regions in the country.