The South is first among four regions according to a new study by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. In 2008, Southerners give an average of 5.2 percent of discretionary income to charity, compared with 4.1 percent in the Northeast.
In Lawrenceville, that number is even higher. Residents in our town give on average 7.5% of their total income. The average in the state of Georgia is 6.2%.
Middle-income people gave more to charities than wealthy people, and those in Republican-leaning states gave more than those in Democratic states the study finds finds.
Religious involvement plays a major role in charitable giving: When only donations to secular charities are counted, the Northeast leads, giving 1.4 percent of discretionary income to the South's 0.9 percent. (See the second PDF displayed to the right of this story's text.)
The charitable giving data, based on IRS records of Americans who itemized their deductions, is searchable down to the ZIP code level in the Chronicle of Philanthropy's interactive map.
Among the study's other key findings:
- The top eight states for charitable giving in 2008 voted for John McCain for president. Georgia ranks eighth on the overall list. (See the PDF displayed to the right of this story.)
- People who earned $50,000 to $70,000 a year gave an average of 7.6 percent of their discretionary income to charity, compared with 4.6 percent for people who made more than $100,000.
- States that offer tax incentives for charitable giving can increase total donations, often at no cost to the donor when the state provides dollar-for-dollar tax credits.
What do you think of the study's findings? How much do you give to charity? Tell us in the comments.