Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gender, Geography and Generosity

Did you ever wonder how your community's giving compares to other areas? Do you feel certain that rich people - especially men - are more generous? Would you guess that Democrats give more than Republicans? Two new reports provide some thought-provoking and surprising data about the role gender and geography play in charitable donations.

According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy's fascinating new report, it turns out rich folks and Democrats don't necessarily give more money. And geography does matter:
  • Rich folks who live in affluent communities donate a smaller share of their income than those who live in economically mixed areas.
  • Red states are seemingly more generous - the top eight states in annual giving voted for McCain in 2008, while the lowest seven supported Obama.
  • Religious affiliation strongly affects giving patterns - the most generous states are Utah and Idaho (where Mormons are expected to tithe at least 10% of their income), and the remaining states in the top nine are all in the Bible Belt.
  • But when contributions to religious institutions are removed from the equation, the geography of giving changes substantially - New York vaults from a pitiful 17 up to second place while Pennsylvania jumps from 40th to fourth.
This report documents giving patterns in every state and city in the nation, based on IRS records of people who itemize deductions. Here are some statistics from places near you. The first figure is the  median donation, the second represents the region's median discretionary income (funds available after basic living expenses are paid), and the third is the median percentage of discretionary income donated:
  • U.S.: $2,654 -- $54,783 -- 4.7%
  • California: $2,306 -- $54,000 - 4.4%
  • San Francisco: $2,180 -- $56,596 -- 3.9%
  • Sonoma County:$1,809 -- $54,304 -- 3.5%
  • Petaluma: $1,752 -- $57,580 -- 3%
  • Santa Rosa: $1,9717 -- $53,684 -- 3.6%
  • Marin County: $2,769 -- $56,585 -- 4.9%
  • San Rafael: $2,600 -- $63,620 -- 4.1%
  • Point Reyes Station: $3,166 -- $54,931 -- 5.8%
I'm pleased and proud to see that my hometown of Point Reyes Station tops the charts in percentage of giving - despite being one of the lowest income communities in Marin County. You can look up your community at http://philanthropy.com/section/How-America-Gives/621/

As to gender, according to a recent study by the Women's Philanthropy Institute, women age 50 and older give more than men - much more:
  • Women at every giving level donate a bigger share of their income and they donate in larger amounts.
  • In the highest bracket, women donate sums that are two times more than men at a similar level - for every $100 given by affluent men, women gave $256.
The moral of this story is: don't make assumptions about who will give and who will not. Your best prospect isn't necessarily the successful, well-to-do, older, upper class male who lives in an affluent community - it could be the woman from the Boomer Generation who lives right next door.