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!
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.
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.
Shari led Online Marketing and Communications at VolunteerMatch from 2010-2015. After working with nonprofits for 9 years, she moved over to the corporate sector and is now leading Inbound Marketing for a tech company in San Francisco.