Being the largest, richest state, it's no surprise that California ranks first in the total amount of donations, at $17.1 billion, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. But the state ranks only 28th in median contributions, at $2.396 - and 26th in the percent of income donated (4.4 percent). The L.A. metro area gave $6.7 billion, which ranks 2nd among 366 metros surveyed. The median contribution, however, is only 158th ($2,630). The Chronicle study provides a ton of data on the giving patterns of taxpayers who earned $50,000 or more in 2008. For example, a Utah household gave more than 10 percent of its income to charity (largely due to the Mormon practice of tithing), while households in Massachusetts gave only 2.8 percent. Map lays out the regional patterns. The numbers are a bit old, but it's still interesting stuff. From the main story:
The rich aren't the most generous. Middle-class Americans give a far bigger share of their discretionary income to charities than the rich. Households that earn $50,000 to $75,000 give an average of 7.6 percent of their discretionary income to charity, compared with an average of 4.2 percent for people who make $100,000 or more. In the Washington metropolitan area, for example, low- and middle-income communities like Suitland, Md., and Capitol Heights, Md., donate a much bigger share of discretionary income than do wealthier communities like Bethesda, Md., and McLean, Va.
The 1 percent really are different. Rich people who live in neighborhoods with many other wealthy people give a smaller share of their incomes to charity than rich people who live in more economically diverse communities. When people making more than $200,000 a year account for more than 40 percent of the taxpayers in a ZIP code, the wealthy residents give an average of 2.8 percent of discretionary income to charity, compared with an average of 4.2 percent for all itemizers earning $200,000 or more.
Another interesting nugget: Red states are more generous than blue states. The eight states where residents gave the highest share of income to charity went Republican in 2008. The seven-lowest ranking states supported Democrat Barack Obama.