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Most Generous Cities

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The U.S. is a generous country – the World Giving Index ranks the United States as the fifth most generous in the world. We wanted to see which places in the U.S. were the most generous by looking at the following factors.

  1. Is there a culture of volunteerism in the area?  We looked at the percentage of residents that volunteered to see how many people in the city were volunteering.
  2. Do volunteers make strong commitments to their service?  We looked at the number of hours volunteered in a year to see how much residents were volunteering.
  3. Do residents donate money as well as time?  We looked at the median percentage of income that was donated to see how much people were contributing financially.

Most Generous Places

1. Provo, UT

Provo ranks first on our list and first in all three variables, making it the most generous metropolitan in the United States. Over 58 percent of all residents volunteered in the past calendar year, and they each volunteered almost 150 hours. Additionally, they donated 13.9 percent of their income every year. The city is home to Brigham Young University, which encourages all students to volunteer with the Center for Service and Learning.

2. Ogden, UT

Ogden, located north of Salt Lake City on the banks of the Great Salt Lake, also ranks well above average for all three factors. Residents volunteer an average of 101.8 hours per year, and 52.2 percent of the metropolitan volunteered in the past year. Residents also donate 10.4 percent of their median income. Ogden is the home of Weber State University, which engages students in finding volunteer opportunities with a Volunteer Fair hosted by the Center for Community Engaged Learning.

 3. Salt Lake City, UT

Another Utah city rounds out our top three. Salt Lake City sees 33.2 percent of its residents volunteering over 50 hours per week. Residents also donate 10.4 percent of their median income to charity every year. The University of Utah provides a broad range of volunteer opportunities for its students, including programs for volunteering internationally and in the health sciences.

 4. Iowa City, IA

Iowa City, located in eastern Iowa, sees 49.2 percent of its residents volunteer every year. Residents volunteer an average of 57.6 hours per year and donate 4.0 percent of their median income to charity. The city is home to the University of Iowa, which challenges its students to give back to the community through its Community-Based Learning Program which has a large volunteer component.

 5. Boulder, CO

Boulder is located 25 miles north of Denver and is the highest-ranking Colorado city on our list. Boulder residents give plenty of their time to charity, with 47.1 percent of all residents volunteering an average of 51.8 hours per year. Residents also donate 3.8 percent of their median income to charity. The University of Colorado in Boulder has a Volunteer Resource Center to help students find great volunteering opportunities around the city.

 6. Jackson, MS

Jackson is the most populous city in Mississippi and its residents are among the most generous in the nation. 32.2 percent of its residents volunteered in the past year, and they volunteered an average of 45 hours. Residents additionally donated 8.1 percent of their median income to charity. Mississippi College’s Alumni Association provides volunteering opportunities for alumni and students alike in Jackson, and Millsaps College makes community service a key component of the 1 Campus, 1 Community program.

 7. Fort Collins, CO

Fort Collins is located 57 miles north of Denver on the banks of the Cache La Poudre River. Fort Collins residents are generous with their time, with 40.5 percent of the residents volunteering an average of 53.5 hours. Residents also donate 4.5 percent of their median income to charity. Fort Collins is home to Colorado State University, which promotes student engagement in the community with Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement (SLiCE).

 8. Oxnard, CA

Oxnard lies 35 miles north of Los Angeles on the California coast. Oxnard’s residents volunteer a whopping 62.8 hours per year and 37.3 percent of residents have volunteered. Oxnard also sees its residents donating 4.2 percent of their income to charity.

 9. Boise, ID

Boise is the capital and most populous city in Idaho. 35.4 percent of Boise’s residents have volunteered, and they volunteer an average of 52.6 hours per year. Additionally, Boise residents donate 5.4 percent of their income to charity per year. Boise State University encourages students to get involved in their community with campus programs, partnerships and volunteer opportunities in the Student Involvement and Leadership Center.

10. Asheville, NC

Asheville is the largest city in western North Carolina. 32.3 percent of the residents have volunteered a median of 37.8 hours per year. Asheville’s residents have also donated a median 6.4 percent of their income to charity. The University of North Carolina at Asheville inspires students to give back to the community with the Key Center for Community Citizenship and Service-Learning to give students volunteering opportunities.

Rank Metropolitan Volunteer Rates Volunteer Hours Per Year Percentage Income Donated (Median) Overall Score
1 Provo, UT 58.5% 147.5 13.9% 100
2 Ogden, UT 52.2% 101.8 10.4% 73.8
3 Salt Lake City, UT 33.2% 51.9 9.0% 43.3
4 Iowa City, IA 49.1% 57.6 4.0% 41.7
5 Boulder, CO 47.1% 51.8 3.8% 38.3
6 Jackson, MS 32.2% 45.0 8.1% 38.2
7 Fort Collins, CO 40.5% 53.5 4.5% 35.9
8 Oxnard, CA 37.3% 62.8 4.2% 34.9
9 Boise, ID 35.4% 52.6 5.4% 34.6
10 Asheville, NC 32.3% 37.8 6.4% 31.5
11 Salem, OR 37.3% 38.2 5.1% 31.4
12 Colorado Springs, CO 32.6% 50.2 5.0% 30.7
13 Grand Rapids, MI 36.7% 33.9 5.3% 30.5
14 Chattanooga, TN 29.0% 32.1 7.3% 30.3
15 Des Moines, IA 39.2% 41.9 3.8% 29.9
16 Greenville, SC 30.1% 31.0 6.8% 29.4
17 Washington, DC 31.5% 42.1 5.5% 29.3
18 Cedar Rapids, IA 35.6% 48.0 3.9% 29.2
19 Charlotte, NC 30.2% 41.5 5.8% 29.1
20 Lancaster, PA 30.5% 43.2 5.4% 28.6

Methodology

The overall score for most generous places was made using the following measures:

  1. Volunteer rates: the percentage of residents in the city that volunteered in the past year
  2. Volunteer hours: the hours a resident volunteered per year
  3. Percentage of median income donated: this was calculated by analyzing the median contribution and the median discretionary income

All data was obtained from the Corporation for National & Community Service and the Chronicle of Philanthropy. We analyzed 366 places.

 

  • Guest

    101 Hours a week how do they in Ogden find time to sleep or work?

    • Jeremy

      Because it is 101 hours a year, not a week :)

  • Alan

    Do you count donations and volunteering at religious institutions ?

    • NWDivya

      Yes, we do count donations and volunteering at religious organizations. Donations are calculated from charitable deductions claimed by Americans on their taxes and reported to the IRS, and volunteers are defined as persons who performed unpaid volunteer activities through an organization, and organizations include churches, synagogues, nonprofits and other groups.

      • Alan

        Hmm so Mormons are supposed to give 10% income to the Church as I understand it. I’m not sure everyone would consider that charitable giving.

        • NWDivya

          It is considered a charitable donation by our tax code, which classifies it as a tax-deductible donation. I agree that all 501c(3) nonprofits are not necessarily organizations most Americans would agree are charitable–the Westboro Baptist Church comes to mind–but our tax code classifies religious donations as charitable.

          • Stevie

            It isn’t a donation. It is required or you can’t go to the temple, nor do you get eternal salvation in the Celestial Kingdom.
            10.4% means they aren’t donating anything BUT 0.4% to actual charities. This is a silly article, and worthless.

          • John Catto

            You’d be correct, Stevie, IF everyone in Ogden were Mormon.

            According to the 2010 census that number is 83% (maybe 50% are active). As an Ogden area resident, I live about a half mile from a large peach orchard where only the caretaker is paid and all other activities like pruning, thinning, and harvesting are done by volunteers. The fruit is then taken to a cannery in Ogden where volunteers do all the work and the finished peaches are shipped to one of over 100 food banks throughout the united states. This is just one product. There are over 100 other essential products that are also produced by the volunteers and people, of any religion, who are in need are able to feed their families. If you think an article showing which cities give more to charity is silly and worthless then shame on you.

          • Stevie

            I am not discrediting the volunteering. I am simply stating that beyond the 10% monetary contribution to the church, there is not a lot of other charity going on. Ogden is also home to the Browning, Eccles, and Mckay families who give substantial amount of money. This could make up for the 50% that donate.
            Fast offerings also play into this, but again, it is expected.

            I absolutely cherish volunteering. I organize volunteer opportunities within my community. It help build unity and strength within the community to help others. Please understand, my statement is simply that the article would have more wait to show which cities volunteer the most.

            I personally would never count money I give to a church as charity, as I care about the cause and my church growing and spreading it reach to others . . . this is what tithe accomplishes; new churches, new temples, employment for DI employees, and then food help. However, I state again, that it is a required 10%

            Also, have you viewed Ogden lately? Maybe some of the charity work could be focused within the city. The poor are getting poorer and the rich on the bench and happy and complacent (really, a phenomenon everywhere), but Ogden is physically looking bad. And the people living there need help.

  • Guest

    Most religions are supposed to give 10%… it’s called a tithe and it’s in the bible. Mormons just seem to follow. It is still a donation because they have to choose to pull that 10% out of their income and give it. No one is forcing them.. Nor will their bishop come knocking at the door to get it. You try giving 10% of your income and see how far you go.

    • http://www.trommetter.com/log/ JasonTromm

      Actually, according to one of my Mormon friends, the bishop might come knocking. You can lose your “temple recommend” if you don’t tithe.

  • http://www.trommetter.com/log/ JasonTromm

    Glad to see Greenville makes the list. Our beautiful city is making a lot of top 10 and top 20 lists this year.