Giving to charity can be doubly rewarding. It helps other people, and it makes you feel like you’re doing something good. As a bonus, it can get you a deduction on your taxes, something a financial advisor can help you navigate. With all that in mind, SmartAsset uncovered the places in the U.S. where people are the most charitable.
To find where Americans give the most to charity, we compared 200 places across the following metrics: charitable contributions as a percentage of income, percentage of tax returns with charitable contributions, average charitable contribution, volunteer rate and hours spent as a volunteer. For details on data sources and how we put the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.
- Charitable Utah. The top three metro areas in this study are all in Utah. They all have top-10 rates for four of the five metrics we considered (except percentage of tax returns with charitable donations).
- South and West represented in top 10. According to Census regional divisions, six of the metro areas represented in the top 10 are located in Southern states and the remaining four are located in Western states. Only three places in the top 25 – the Lancaster, Pennsylvania metro area at No. 13; the Omaha-Council Bluffs, Nebraska-Iowa metro area at No. 18 and the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norfolk, Connecticut metro area at No. 22 are in either the Northeast or the Midwest.
1. Provo-Orem, UT
The first of three metro areas in Utah on this list, Provo-Orem leads the study in terms of charitable contributions as a percentage of income, at 6.91%. Provo-Orem finishes in the top five for percentage of tax returns with charitable donations, at 34.98%. It also has a top-five rate for average charitable contributions at $13,125. Utah comes in first for one of the statewide metrics, with a 51% volunteer rate.
2. Ogden-Clearfield, UT
The Ogden-Clearfield, Utah metro area has the fourth-highest rate in the study for charitable contributions as a percentage of income, at 4.71%. It also has a top-10 ranking for average charitable contributions, at $9,219. Since it is also located in Utah, Ogden-Clearfield ties for first with Provo-Orem for state volunteer rate, at 51%, and ties for sixth with Provo-Orem for average number of volunteer hours spent per volunteer, at approximately 116.
3. Salt Lake City, UT
Taking the No. 3 spot is the last of the Utah trio, the state capital Salt Lake City. In addition to the top-10 Utah statewide rankings, the Salt Lake City metro area has the fifth-highest rate overall for charitable contributions as a percentage of income, 4.09%. It also has the seventh-highest rate for average charitable contribution, at $9,274.
4. Charlottesville, VA
Charlottesville, Virginia, finishes with decent scores in each category, including a top-20 ranking for charitable contributions as a percentage of income, at 3.05%. It places 11th overall for average charitable contributions, at $9,037. Virginia has a top-20 rate for number of volunteer hours spent per volunteer, at more than 103.
5. Raleigh, NC
The Raleigh, North Carolina metro area has the 14th-highest percentage in our study of tax returns listing charitable donations, at 32.73%. Charitable contributions consist of approximately 2.66% of income in the Raleigh metro area, and the average charitable contribution amount is $6,398. On the statewide level, 35.10% of North Carolina’s residents donate their time to volunteering.
6. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD
Around 38.40% of tax returns in the Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Maryland metro area list a charitable donation, the third-highest percentage for this metric in the study. While the average charitable contribution amount for this metro area – $4,963 – ranks in the bottom half of the study, the state of Maryland finishes in the top 10 in terms of hours donated per volunteer, at more than 105.
7. Boise, ID
The Boise, Idaho metro area has top-25 rates for both of its statewide metrics. The state volunteer rate for Idaho is 37.90%, and each volunteer in the state donates approximately 98.55 hours on average for the year. The metro area itself stands out for its top-35 ranking for charitable contributions as a percentage of income, at 2.58%.
8. Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC
The Charlotte, North Carolina metro area sees 2.58% of its income given to charity. Furthermore, approximately 29.70% of all its tax returns report charitable donations. The average charitable contribution amount in the Charlotte metro area is $6,166, which ranks in the top half of the study.
9. Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
The Durham-Chapel Hill metro area, another North Carolina representative in the top 10, has a top-25 rate for its percentage of tax returns reporting charitable donations, at 30.84%. The average charitable donation there is $6,052, which ranks in the top half of the study. The statewide metrics are as follows: North Carolina has a state volunteer rate of 35.10% and an average of more than 94 hours donated per volunteer.
10. Tulsa, OK
The Tulsa, Oklahoma metro area has the eighth-highest average charitable contribution in this study, at $9,247. It also ranks in the top 20 for charitable contributions as a percentage of income, at 3.19%. The state of Oklahoma has an average of nearly 98 hours donated per volunteer.
Data and Methodology
To find the most charitable places in the U.S., SmartAsset compared the top 200 metro areas by population across the following metrics:
- Charitable contributions as a percentage of income. Data comes from the IRS and is for 2016.
- Percentage of tax returns with charitable donations. Data comes from the IRS and is for 2016.
- Average charitable contribution amount. Data comes from the IRS and is for 2016.
- Volunteer rate. Data is from NationalService.gov and is measured at the state level.
- Hours spent per volunteer. Data is from NationalService.gov and is measured at the state level.
First, we ranked each metro area in each metric. We then calculated the average ranking across the metrics for each metro area, giving equal weight to each metric. Ultimately, we used these average rankings to give each metro area its final score. The place with the highest average ranking received a score of 100, while the place with the lowest average ranking received a score of 0.
Tips for Managing Your Money
- Comprehensive contribution advice. If you want to plan your charitable giving, consider using a financial advisor. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in just five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- Smart budgeting. You can make space in your budget for charitable giving. Consider using SmartAsset’s free budget calculator to see how you can fit it in.
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