Monday, August 27, 2012

Study details the geography of charitable giving; interactive website lets you look it up by ZIP code

A careful look at charitable giving has shown that lower-income people tend to donate a much bigger share of their discretionary incomes than wealthier people do. And rich people are more generous when they live among those who aren't so rich. That's according to a new study by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, which breaks charitable giving down by ZIP code. Pam Fessler of NPR reports that the study found that generosity varies greatly from one region of the country to another.
Sample screenshot from interactive website shows giving rates for counties in parts of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas.
You can explore the giving in your own state, city and neighborhood at the interactive site, by clicking here.

The study found that households with annual incomes of $50,000 to $75,000 donate, on average, 7.6 percent of their discretionary income, writes Fessler. "That's compared with about 4 percent for those with incomes of $200,000 or more. Peter Panepento, the Chronicle's assistant managing editor, says religious giving, which makes up the bulk of U.S. donations, is a major factor. 'States like Utah and Alabama and Mississippi all end up very high on our list,' he says. 'And states where [there's] more of a secular mindset, particularly in New England and all along the coast, tended to show up lower on the list.'

"High-income people who live in economically diverse neighborhoods give more on average than high-income people who live in wealthier neighborhoods. Paul Piff, a social psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, says that's consistent with what he's found in years of research on income and giving. 'The more wealth you have, the more focused on your own self and your own needs you become, and the less attuned to the needs of other people you also become,' he says. 'Simply reminding wealthy people of the diversity of needs that are out there is going to go a long way toward restoring the empathy or compassion deficit that we otherwise see,' Piff says." (Read more)

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