While Americans are still facing economic challenges, monetary generosity has also increased. Charitable giving grew by 9% in 2021 for both traditional donations and online giving, according to the non-profit research division at Blackbaud Institute. This is the largest increase in a decade.
To determine the places where affluent Americans give the most to charity, we compared 384 metro areas across the following metrics: charitable contributions as a percentage of income, percentage of tax returns with charitable donations and the average charitable contribution. For all metrics, we specifically considered tax returns of filers with a reported income of $200,000 or higher. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, read the Data and Methodology section below.
- Utah and Georgia metro areas dominate the top 10. Nationally, 47% of tax filers who earn upwards of $200,000 gave to charity, according to IRS data. The top 10 metro areas in Utah and Georgia exceed the national average by nearly 20%. In these areas, more than two in three high-earning filers claimed charitable tax deductions.
- The average rich American gives about $30,600 to charity. IRS data only captures charitable contributions as noted on one’s tax return. Nationwide, tax filers earning $200,000 or more deduct an average of $30,600 for charitable contributions.
1. Provo-Orem, UT
Four in five tax returns filed in Provo-Orem, Utah for high earners reported charitable donations, ranking first across all metro areas. Similarly, the area also took the No. 1 spot when considering charitable contributions as a percent of income (at least 9.35% of income for tax filers who had an income of $200,000 or more). The average charitable contribution for this demographic is nearly $86,000.
2. Logan, UT-ID
Despite the average charitable contribution being roughly $27,100 less than the No. 1 ranking city, nearly 70% tax filers earning $200,000 or more in Logan, UT-ID reported making charitable contributions. Compared to that salary range, the average charitable contribution of $58,775 equates to roughly 8.71% of a year’s income for this demographic.
3. Rome, GA
The Rome, Georgia metro area has the sixth-highest average charitable contribution filed on tax returns ($73,780) and makes up at least 7.20% of tax filers earning $200,000 or more (fourth-highest). Additionally, well over half of rich Americans in this area reported charitable donations on their tax returns (24th-highest).
4. Dalton, GA
Roughly one hour away from Rome, Georgia is the Dalton metro area, which ranks in the top 10 areas for two out of three metrics. First, Dalton ranks fifth-best for the percentage of income that charitable contributions typically make up for tax filers earning $200,000 or more (6.17%). Additionally, the area takes the 10th spot for the average charitable contribution for this demographic ($64,994).
5. St. George, UT
More than 65% of tax filers earning at least $200,000 or more in the St. George, UT metro area reported making charitable contributions (fourth-highest in the study). As a percentage of income, charitable contributions account for at least 5.61% of annual earnings (which works out to roughly $42,600 donated on average).
6. Columbus, GA-AL
In the Columbus, Georgia metro area, tax filers earning $200,000 or more use at least 5.31% of their income on charitable contributions. Of these residents in top income brackets, 56.71% of their tax returns reported charitable donations (23rd-highest) and the typical donation averages $48,231.
7. Salt Lake City, UT
Roughly 60% of tax returns for filers earning at least $200,000 report charitable contributions on average, the amount donated is just over $43,200. Compared to income, Salt Lake City, Utah metro area residents in this demographic are contributing at least 5.21% of their income to charity (16th-highest across the study).
8. Macon, GA
Similar to other top ranking metro areas, residents earning at least $200,000 in the Macon, Georgia metro area contribute 5.32% of their annual income to charity according to tax return reporting (12th-highest). Of all the tax returns for this group of earners, 58.06% of their filings include a charitable contribution (and that averages out to roughly $42,700 in donations).
9. Albany, GA
The Albany, Georgia metro area ranks in the top 15 for both the percentage of tax returns for filers in top income brackets that include a charitable contribution (58.16%) and the percentage of which these contributions make up their annual salary (5.43%). Similar to its No. 8 ranking neighbor, the average charitable contribution in Albany exceeds $42,000.
10. Ogden-Clearfield, UT
While the Ogden, Utah metro area has the lowest average charitable contribution of the top 10 ($38,611), the area ranks in the top six for both the percentage of tax returns among rich filers with this type of deduction ($68.03%) and the percentage of annual income that charitable contributions typically account for (at least 6%).
Data and Methodology
To find the places where rich Americans give the most to charity, SmartAsset considered tax filers with an adjusted gross income of $200,000 or more. For that demographic, we compared 384 metro areas across the following three metrics:
- Charitable contributions as a percentage of income.
- Percentage of tax returns with charitable donations.
- Average charitable contribution amount.
Data for all metrics comes from the IRS and is for 2019, the most recent data available.
We ranked each metro area in every metric, giving an equal weighting to all three metrics. We then found each metro area’s average ranking. The metro area with the best average ranking places first in our study while the area with the lowest average ranking places last.
Tips for Charitable Giving
- Charitable contributions benefit others, but can also benefit you. Here's how charity tax deductions are defined, what qualifies for this type of deduction and how to claim it.
- Learn how to incorporate charitable giving into your estate plans. You can leave behind a final contribution to support a cause by naming a charity as a beneficiary to your estate. Read more about naming a charity as a beneficiary and what to consider before finalizing your plans.
- Work with a finance professional. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
Questions about our study? Contact email@example.com.
Photo credit: ©iStock/UncleDmytro