Wisconsin ranks near the bottom in charitable giving across the country, and the Milwaukee area is no different, according to a special report by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
The report, America Gives, analyzed IRS data to determine the rate of charitable giving across states and metro areas, and compared that with the states’ political leanings and the prevalence of religion. America Gives was released today.
Wisconsin was 44th out of the 50 states, and Milwaukee 42nd of the 50 largest metro areas.
Statewide contributions in 2008 were about $2 billion, with a median donation of $1,747, about 3.4 percent of the median discretionary income of $51,392. Total Milwaukee contributions in 2008 were $842.9 million. The median contribution here was $2,062, 3.9 percent of the median discretionary income of $53,504. Discretionary income for this report was money left after taxing, housing, food and other living expenses.
Two things correlated with higher statewide donation rates: voting Republican and being religious.
People living in states that went Republican in 2008 were more generous to charities than those that voted Democratic that year, the report found, and states with more participation in religion also saw increased rates of giving.
Utah and Mississippi had the highest rates of giving; the lowest rates were seen in New England states.
In addition to the state rankings, the report also looked at the rates of giving in the country’s 50 largest metropolitan areas. It is possible, writes Ben Gose for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, that “cities and states with the most generous residents may be in a better position to help the millions of people still suffering from joblessness and other financial setbacks.”
To find out how your community did, visit The Chronicle of Philosophy now. The special report includes an interactive database—searchable by ZIP code—of charitable giving.
Other key findings
Biggest giver-Utah: The role of religion in giving is most evident in Utah, the report states, where more than 60 percent of Mormon residents following the church tradition of giving at least 10 percent of their discretionary income to the church.
Low giver-New Hampshire: Perennially near the bottom of giving lists, New Hampshire fares better in comparison when donations to religious institutions are stripped out of the data. Then, the state’s giving rates fall in line with the rest of the country.
Tax credits-Reason for giving: In addition to political leaning and religion, tax credits also lead to increased giving, the report found.
Lower income, higher giving: People who make between $50,000 and $75,000 annually give an average of 7.6 percent of their discretionary income to charity, compared with an average of 4.2 percent for people who make $100,000 or more.