America’s Most (and Least) Generous States

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5. Rhode Island
> Pct. of income donated: 3.1%
> Total charitable contributions: $351 million (8th lowest)
> Median contribution: $1,666 (5th lowest)
> Pct. households $200,000+ income: 5.4% (13th highest)
> Pct. families in poverty: 9.2% (20th lowest)

More than 30% of Rhode Islanders filed a charitable contribution on their income taxes. But of filers making $50,000 or more the median contribution was just $1,666, or 3.1% of discretionary income. The state continues to struggle with an economy that has been in decline for some time. The state’s 10.8% unemployment rate in July is the second-highest in the U.S. and well above the national rate of 8.3%. Rhode Island also has among the highest cost of living and the fifth-highest state and local tax burden, at 10.7%. Rhode Island’s 32% weekly rate attendance at churches, synagogues or mosques is higher than most of its New England peers, but about 20 percentage points below many of the most generous states.

Also Read: States With The Least Full-time Work

4. Massachusetts
> Pct. of income donated: 2.8%
> Total charitable contributions: $3.1 billion (14th highest)
> Median contribution: $1,652 (4th lowest)
> Pct. households $200,000+ income: 9% (4th highest)
> Pct. families in poverty: 8.2% (13th lowest)

Massachusetts residents are hardly poor. The state’s $62,072 annual median income was more than $10,000 more than the national median. And just three states had a higher proportion of residents who earned over $200,000 a year than Massachusetts. Still, residents earning $50,000 or more gave just 2.8% of their discretionary income to charity. Limited religious participation may contribute to this, as just 29% of individuals surveyed by Gallup reported they frequently attended religious services. Another deterrent may be Massachusetts’ 10% state and local tax burden, which was one of the nation’s highest.

3. Vermont
> Pct. of income donated: 2.8%
> Total charitable contributions: $166 million (2nd lowest)
> Median contribution: $1,548 (3rd lowest)
> Pct. households $200,000+ income: 3.9% (22nd highest)
> Pct. families in poverty: 8.4% (14th lowest)

While the state’s median household income is just slightly lower than the national median, only 21.4% of the population filed for a charitable contribution on their taxes, one of the lowest percentage in the country. For those who did file and made more than $50,000, the median contribution was only $1,548, which is less than one-third of the median contribution of most generous state. While the state and local tax burden of 10.2% is the eighth highest in the U.S., religion could explain this discrepancy. Only 23% of the population reported going regularly to church, synagogue or mosque, the lowest of all 50 states.

2. Maine
> Pct. of income donated: 2.8%
> Total charitable contributions: $308 million (6th lowest)
> Median contribution: $1,403 (the lowest)
> Pct. households $200,000+ income: 2.8% (7th lowest)
> Pct. families in poverty: 8.8% (15th lowest)

Among Mainers earning in excess of $50,000 a year, the median contribution to charity was just $1,403, the lowest figure nationally by nearly $100. Residents are not especially wealthy; the state’s median household income was only $45,815, well below the $50,046 national median. Additionally 16.2% of households received food stamps, the sixth-highest figure nationwide. Meanwhile, just 2.8% of households earned more than $200,000, far less than the 5.1% who did nationally. Despite these figures, Maine had a state and local tax burden of 10.1% of per capita income, a higher figure than wealthier states such as Massachusetts and Maryland.

1. New Hampshire
> Pct. of income donated: 2.5%
> Total charitable contributions: $409 million (11th lowest)
> Median contribution: $1,497 (2nd lowest)
> Pct. households $200,000+ income: 5.7% (12th highest)
> Pct. families in poverty: 5.3% (the lowest)

The percentage of residents filing for charitable contributions in New Hampshire, 26.7%, was much less than many other New England States such as Connecticut (36.3%), Massachusetts (32.5%) and Rhode Island (30.1%). Unlike many of the least generous states, New Hampshire residents can’t claim they pay higher taxes than most. The state and local tax burden of 8% was the seventh lowest in the U.S. In addition, while the state had the 10th highest cost of living, states such as Connecticut and New Jersey had higher costs of living while also giving more to charity. Like many states, the tie between charitable contribution and religion is apparent — only 26% of New Hampshire residents reported going to church, synagogue or mosque weekly, the second-lowest rate in the country.

Michael B. Sauter, Lisa Uible, Samuel Weigley and Alexander E. M. Hess