New State-by-State Assessment of U.S. Charitable Giving
Center on Wealth and Philanthropy
Spiritual and Cultural Life in an Age of Affluence Wealth and the Commonwealth Newsletter Volume 11: December 2006


Ten Leaders in Charitable Giving in the United States

New State-by-State Assessment of U.S. Charitable Giving


Ten Leaders in Charitable Giving in the United States

1. New York

2. Utah

3. California

4. Connecticut

5. Maryland

6. New Jersey

7. Georgia

8. Massachusetts

9. Hawaii

10. South Carolina

*The District of Columbia is second to New York.

Dear Colleagues:

I am pleased to send you this special issue of our newsletter, Wealth and the Commonwealth. This newsletter features our latest report, Center on Wealth and Philanthropy Charitable Giving Indices: Social Indicators of Philanthropy by State.

In November 2005 the Boston Foundation released its report, Geography and Generosity: Boston and Beyond, prepared by the authors of the new report, John J. Havens and Paul G. Schervish from the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College (CWP). One of the primary objectives of the 2005 report was to present three social indicators of charitable giving relative to financial capacity for the entire population of each state and the District of Columbia. The current report, Center on Wealth and Philanthropy Charitable Giving Indices: Social Indicators of Philanthropy by State, updates the 2005 report and provides an additional fourth index based on a new cost of living measure developed by CWP.

Over the past decade, increasing attention has been focused on the relative generosity�or lack thereof�of the residents of different states or regions in this country. It is crucial to highlight that we refer to these indicators as charitable giving indices rather than generosity indices� Generosity is a moral, spiritual, or social-psychological characteristic of individuals and perhaps families and households. It is a virtue or a personal faculty. We do not believe that the term generosity should be associated with our measures, nor any other measures that do not directly study the inner disposition and inter-personal relationship of generosity. Charitable giving is one dimension of generosity, but not the only or, for some individuals, the major one within their purview of responsibilities and cares. Every purported generosity index that has ranked states is, in fact, a charitable giving index. Individuals contribute time, effort, goods, money, and emotional support on a daily basis to many individuals inside and outside of their immediate family�all of which are forms of generosity and not captured by any so-called state of generosity measure.

We have included a portion of our press release announcing the report in this newsletter. It provides an overview of our findings and their implications. For the complete press release and report please follow the link at the end of this newsletter.

As always, I welcome your comments and feedback. I wish you, your family, and your friends the blessings of this sacred season.


Paul Schervish

Center on Wealth and Philanthropy

  • New State-by-State Assessment of U.S. Charitable Giving
  • New research by the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College identifies New York, Utah, California, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Georgia, Massachusetts, Hawaii and South Carolina as the ten leaders in charitable giving among the 50 states. In addition, the District of Columbia was second only to New York in the new report, released this week by the Boston Foundation.

    The report on charitable giving is a follow-up to a report called Generosity and Geography, which was researched by John J. Havens and Paul G. Schervish of the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at BC and released by the Boston Foundation in November of 2005. That report was commissioned as part of a body of research into the prospects of future philanthropy in Greater Boston. In the process of that inquiry, the report raised serious questions about the validity of the Generosity Index, published annually by the Catalogue for Philanthropy, which purports to rank all 50 states in terms of generosity. Last year�s Boston Foundation report challenged the conclusions of the Generosity Index by eliminating what the Boston Foundation believes is its built-in bias against high-income states that makes the Generosity Index an inaccurate comparative measure of charitable giving.

    The Generosity Index has received national attention every year for its ranking of states by their purported �generosity� and each year has reported that many states in New England and the Northeast are �less generous� than less wealthy states in the South.

    �The investigation undertaken by the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy and sponsored by the Boston Foundation questioned the Index�s methodology,� said BC's Paul Schervish. �It also quickly established that significant differences in tax burdens, the cost of living, as well as religious tradition and other elements must to be taken into consideration in order to meaningfully compare the giving of residents in one state to another.�

    Schervish, director of the Center and a nationally recognized sociologist and philanthropy expert, and Havens, the Center�s Associate Director and Senior Research Associate, then went on to create a new methodology that takes into consideration each state�s cost of living and the tax burden, including changes within states that are driven by levels of urbanization�which affects cost of living at the more local level. The 2006 report released today includes all of these variables.

    �The power of this report goes far beyond simply again casting serious doubt about the validity of the Generosity Index,� said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. �John Havens and Paul Schervish have made an important contribution to a new, national effort to develop valid metrics to place the whole subject of philanthropy on a more professional and credible foundation. This report provides a valuable national service in this pioneering work.�

    Link to CWP website for full press release and PDF of the report

    Forward email

    This email was sent to, by
    Powered by

    The Center on Wealth and Philanthropy | Boston College | McGuinn Hall | 140 Commonwealth Avenue | Chestnut Hill | MA | 02467-3807