Volunteering vs. Giving: How Does Your State Stack Up?

Where does your state fall in the giving vs. volunteering spectrum?

From philanthropy.com

Last month the Chronicle of Philanthropy released “How America Gives,” a study showing how much money Americans give to charity by geographic location. This was presented in a cool interactive interface along with data about income levels, race distribution and age ranges for each area.

Last year the Corporation for National and Community Service released its updated 2011 data for Volunteering in America, showing volunteering trends, statistics, tools, resources and information for regions across the U.S.

Any data nerd would get itchy to compare these two studies, but of course there are problems: one data set is from 2010, one from 2011. The Chronicle study mainly looks at overall giving, while Volunteering in America presents volunteering rates as a proportion. Scientifically, it’s not the cleanest comparison.

Let’s do it anyway.

Looking at Totals

The three states that gave the most money overall in 2011 were California, New York and Texas. The three states that volunteered the most hours overall were California, Texas and Florida.

Notice a pattern? The issue with this sort of data is that it is completely based on population size. Of course California and Texas both gave a ton of time and money – they have millions more people than poor Rhode Island!

Giving in CA vs. NY

However, there’s something weird going on with New York, which didn’t make it to the top three for volunteering (this honor passed to Florida, the fourth most populous state.) Are New Yorkers just too busy to volunteer?

Looking at Per Capita

Let’s dive into the meatier numbers. The three states that volunteered the most hours per resident were Utah, Alaska and Idaho. The states that had the highest median charity donation were Utah, Alabama and Mississippi.

Utah is great!First off, let’s all give Utah a resounding round of applause. Nice work!

What’s the deal with the other five states? There is no noticeable pattern based on discretionary income levels (according to “How America Gives” data, that is all over the map, literally.) It doesn’t appear to be linked to population size or density, either.

So what is it about these states that has their residents giving and volunteering in such high numbers? And in a more general sense, what is it that gets people jazzed up to give their time and money?

We could spend years analyzing the differences and similarities across these states – by income levels, culture, geography, religion, political affiliation, education level… and unfortunately I don’t have time to do that AND manage online communications at VolunteerMatch.

But maybe we can start off simple: What do YOU think influences people most strongly to give time and/or money? Leave your thoughts below.

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5 thoughts on “Volunteering vs. Giving: How Does Your State Stack Up?

  1. It may be anecdotal, but it’s interesting that the states with the highest per capita giving also lack professional sports teams (except the Utah Jazz). I doubt there is a direct linkage, but I wonder if some cultural element affects both.

  2. According to an article in Philanthrophy News Digest, the most religious members of the middle class are the persons who continue to give during periods when the wealthy pull back on giving. I would suggest that states like Alabama and Mississippi, found in what is known as the Bible Belt, would fit that definition. Also, people who give because of religious conviction often tythe.

  3. I’m wondering if these states also had better way to get volunteers to report their hours as well as better systems to report, capture, and analyze the data.

  4. Utah – and Idaho have a high percentage of Mormons. Their church is very well organized to help others and their members are taught from a very young age to give unto others. Mississippi and Alabama have that southern sense of “clan” not only just they are southern but also because of a high percentage of membership in one church, Southern Baptist. In both instances there is not only religion involved but also a sense of belonging to a community that cares.

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