Southerners Warmer to Charitable Giving Than New Englanders

A national study comparing the amount of giving on behalf of the “haves” and the “have-nots” found most charitable giving came from those in poorer segments of the country.

People from New Hampshire, taking in an average gross income of $50,952, were rated dead last for the fourth year in a row, while top-ranked Mississippians donated a hefty 14% of their average gross income of $34,720 to charity.

The Catalogue of Philanthropy’s Generosity Index, ranks states by examining Average Adjusted Gross Income and Average Itemized Charitable Deductions from the IRS. Spokesman Martin Cohn for the Catalogue for Philanthropy (CFP) said, “We believe that generosity is a function of how much one gives to the ability one has to have.”

CFP believes its data illustrate that “nationwide, giving is not consistently related to income; rather giving is shaped more by cultures, which tend to be regional, and by religion (not politics).” For instance, those in the Bible Belt and Utah donate much more proportionately than their New England counterparts.

The top 10 most generous states were: Mississippi, Arkansas, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Utah, South Carolina and West Virginia. The bottom 10 were: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Minnesota, Colorado, Hawaii and Michigan.

The rankings have come under fire from the Boston Foundation, a philanthropic grant-giver, which said CFP’s report is biased against New Englanders. Their preferred methodology for determining charitable giving generosity factors in adjustments for taxes and living costs. According to their formula, Massachusetts is 11th, not 49th.