Acton Institute Powerblog

Church-Going States Give the Most to Charity

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charity2How much of their incomes do Americans give to charity? A report by Chronicle of Philanthropy that analyzed taxpayers’ IRS data to find the answer:

On average, Americans give about 3 percent of their income to charity each year, according to the report released Monday. But the giving gap between the rich and poor is significant, especially in view of the widening income gap. The report shows those who earned $200,000 or more donated 4.6 percent less of their income between 2006 and 2012; those who earned less than $100,000 gave 4.5 percent more.

Why? Chronicle editor Stacy Palmer noted one factor: church attendance.

The top ten most generous states all have higher than average church attendance rates (and, as the report notes, they are all states that voted for Mitt Romney for president):

1 Utah 6.56 percent
2 Mississippi 4.99 percent
3 Alabama 4.81 percent
4 Tennessee 4.45 percent
5 Georgia 4.20 percent
6 South Carolina 4.13 percent
7 Idaho 4.09 percent
8 Oklahoma 3.94 percent
9 Arkansas 3.91 percent
10 North Carolina 3.63 percent

The top ten least generous states tend to have lower church attendance rates (and, with the exception of North Dakota, all voted for Barack Obama in the last election):

42 Hawaii 2.47 percent
43 Wisconsin 2.44 percent
44 North Dakota 2.37 percent
45 Connecticut 2.34 percent
46 Massachusetts 2.19 percent
47 Rhode Island 2.07 percent
48 New Jersey 2.01 percent
49 Vermont 2.00 percent
50 Maine 1.95 percent
51 New Hampshire 1.74 percent

(Note: The list also included the District of Columbia.)

The top 25 most generous metropolitan areas are:

1 Salt Lake City – 5.4 percent
2 Memphis – 5.1 percent
3 Birmingham, Ala.- 4.8 percent
4 Atlanta – 4.0 percent
5 Nashville – 3.9 percent
6 Jacksonville, Fla.  – 3.8 percent
7 Oklahoma City – 3.7 percent
8 Dallas-Fort Worth –  3.6 percent
9 Charlotte, N.C. –  3.4 percent
10 Virginia Beach –  3.3 percent
11 Houston –  3.2 percent
12 Indianapolis –  3.2 percent
13 Louisville, Ky. –  3.2 percent
14 San Antonio –  3.1 percent
15 Orlando, Fla. –  3.1 percent
16 Kansas City, Mo.-Ks. –  3.1 percent
17 Richmond, Va. –  3.0 percent
18 Raleigh-Cary, NC –  3.0 percent
19 Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Fla. –  3.0 percent
20 Riverside, Calif. –  3.0 percent
21 Phoenix –  2.9 percent
22 Baltimore –  2.9 percent
23 St. Louis –  2.9 percent
24 Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla .-  2.9 percent
25 New Orleans –  2.8 percent

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Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).

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