America’s Most (and Least) Generous States

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America’s 10 Least Generous States

10. Nevada
> Pct. of income donated: 3.9%
> Total charitable contributions: $952 million (16th lowest)
> Median contribution: $1,978 (9th lowest)
> Pct. households $200,000+ income: 3.7% (23rd highest)
> Pct. families in poverty: 11.1% (21st highest)

Nevadans are lightly taxed, paying just 7.5% of their income in state and local taxes — the second-smallest tax burden in the U.S. Still, residents of the state were among the worst givers in the country, as the state’s median contribution was less than $2,000. One issue that may contribute to this low figure is religion. Just 30% of Nevadans were regularly involved in religious services, the lowest proportion in the nation outside New England.

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9. New Jersey
> Pct. of income donated: 3.7%
> Total charitable contributions: $4.5 billion (8th highest)
> Median contribution: $2,181 (14th lowest)
> Pct. households $200,000+ income: 10.6% (the highest)
> Pct. families in poverty: 7.8% (10th lowest)

New Jersey residents like to donate, with 36.6% filing tax returns claiming a deduction for charitable contributions. However, donations remain modest. At only 3.7% of discretionary income, charitable donations as a percentage of discretionary income are far lower than most states. In fairness, New Jerseyans have it hard, faced with a collective 12.2% state and local tax burden, the highest in the country. While the state is not the most religious in the country, it’s pious compared to much of the Northeast. 38% of New Jersey residents attended church, synagogue or mosque at least once a week, compared to less than one-third of residents in Rhode Island (32%), Connecticut (32%), Massachusetts (30%), Vermont (23%), Maine (27%) and New Hampshire (26%).

8. North Dakota
> Pct. of income donated: 3.5%
> Total charitable contributions: $164 million (the lowest)
> Median contribution: $2,257 (17th lowest)
> Pct. households $200,000+ income: 3.1% (13th lowest)
> Pct. families in poverty: 7.8% (9th lowest)

North Dakota’s total charitable contributions by households earning over $50,000 a year was the absolute smallest, at $164 million. In addition to the state’s modest population, relatively few residents listed a charitable deduction on their tax returns — at 14.7%, it was second-lowest proportion in the country. Though the state’s median income was slightly below the national median, North Dakotans are not especially poor. Just 7.8% of families lived below the poverty line, among the lowest percentage in the U.S., while 8.2% of households required food stamps, below the 11.9% national average. Additionally, North Dakota’s July unemployment rate was just 3%, well under the national rate of 8.3% and the lowest in the country.

7. Wisconsin
> Pct. of income donated: 3.4%
> Total charitable contributions: $2 billion (25th lowest)
> Median contribution: $1,747 (6th lowest)
> Pct. households $200,000+ income: 3.3% (17th lowest)
> Pct. families in poverty: 9.1% (17th lowest)

Wisconsin is one of just two Midwestern states that are on the list of the least generous states in the country. Maybe this lack of propensity for giving is due to an above average tax burden on individuals in the Badger state. The average state and local tax burden of 11% in Wisconsin is the fourth highest in the country. Or, maybe it has something to do with the above average equality in the state as compared to the rest of the country. The one-year Gini coefficient for Wisconsin is the sixth lowest in the country, meaning that the divide between the rich and poor is relatively narrow.

6. Connecticut
> Pct. of income donated: 3.3%
> Total charitable contributions: $2.3 billion (22nd highest)
> Median contribution: $1,916 (7th lowest)
> Pct. households $200,000+ income: 10.3% (2nd highest)
> Pct. families in poverty: 7.2% (5th lowest)

Connecticut is among the wealthiest states in the country. Median income was $64,032, compared to the national median income of $50,046, and 10.3% of households earned over $200,000 a year, the second-highest proportion among all states in the U.S. Despite this wealth, the median contribution to charity by those earning over $50,000 was just $1,916 per year — the seventh-lowest figure nationally. Residents may be deterred from giving to charity by a higher tax burden, as 12% of income went to state and local taxes, the third-highest nationally. Connecticut also had the fourth-highest cost of living in the U.S.