A report released over the weekend by The Chronicle of Philanthropy ranks Baltimore-area and Maryland residents among the most generous in the country.
The study examined IRS records of Americans who itemized their deductions and earned $50,000 or more in 2008, providing data sets for every state, city, and ZIP code. An interactive map can be found here.
Maryland ranked 10th overall among the 50 states, contributing 5.7 percent of its discretionary income to charity. Maryland placed 11th in total contributions. The Baltimore-Towson metro area ranked 16th of 366 U.S. metropolitan areas, with $1.6 billion in total charitable contributions.
The top ranking state, by far, was Utah, with the Mormon tithing tradition playing a significant role, according to The Chronicle, followed by Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina.
Accounting for deep cost of living differences, the study compared generosity rates after residents paid taxes, housing, food, and other necessities. The key finding was that “the nation’s generosity divide is vast.”
Among The Chronicle’s key findings:
Comparatively, the rich are not very generous. According to the study, “Middle-class Americans give a far bigger share of their discretionary income to charities than the rich.” And, the “1 percent” — the rich who live in neighborhoods that lack economic diversity — give a lower percentage to charity than the merely rich.
The study also found that tax incentives matter, and the so-called “red” states are more generous than the “blue” states. Maryland, a wealthy blue state, is unique given its ranking.
According to The Chronicle, religion has a major impact on giving, as does differences “rooted in part in each area’s political philosophy about the role of government versus charity.”
“When religious giving isn’t counted, the geography of giving is very different. Some states in the Northeast jump into the top 10 when secular gifts alone are counted. New York would vault from No. 18 to No. 2, and Pennsylvania would climb from No. 40 to No. 4.”