Quote of the Day:

The Chronicle of Philanthropy, a journal that keeps track of who’s giving what to whom, finds that those who speak the loudest about their concern for the hungry, the hopeless and other good causes, are the stingiest. They only want to give away the money of other people.

–Wes Pruden in the Washington Times

Pruden writes that the most generous are those who live in red conservative states and likely voted for Mitt Romney, while the stingiest live in the liberal blue states and are likely to have voted for President Obama. Florida, the most generous of the blue states, ranks as seventeenth over all.

The giving pattern breaks this way:

Utah is the most generous of all, with a majority of Mormons whose faith teaches them to give 10 percent of their income to others; Utah gives at a statewide rate of 6.5 percent. These figures include givers of other faiths, and those of no particular faith. Mississippi is the second most generous state, with a rate of 5 percent.

Eight of the 10 most generous states are in the South: Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Arkansas and North Carolina. Residents of these states give on average at least 3.7 percent of their income, after taxes, to church or charity. Some give considerably more. Tithing, or contributing 10 percent of income, is popular in these states, too.

When I was very much on the left in my youth, I disapproved of charity (whose etymological root is love) because I believed that the state should take over and ensure that needs were met. But the weary world has learned a lot about what happens when the state grows and private charity is subsumed in bureaucracy. It is thus interesting to note that the states that give have the most old-fashioned and least statist values.

What are the stingiest states?

The stingiest states are Hawaii, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. New Hampshire’s 1.7 rate puts it dead last.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy found another disturbing trend: the wealthiest Americans are now giving a slightly smaller portion of their income to charity. Many charity leaders told the study that they were sustained through the recession and slow recovery by less affluent contributors. Prudent also notes that the biggest giving areas are those where religious values remain strongest:

Residents of only two of the top 50 cities in America, Salt Lake City and Memphis, gave more than 5 percent of their income to charity. Several cities among the most generous have large populations of black and relatively poor. The stingiest cities, at No. 49 and 50, are Hartford, Connecticut, and Providence, Rhode Island, at less than 2 percent. All but one of the top 10 cities for charitable giving are in the South; Salt Lake City is the exception at No. 1. The most generous ZIP Code lies across tiny Canby, California, whose 645 residents give at a rate of 18 percent. Many of them are members of a small Pentecostal religious denomination.

Rich and poor, Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, Americans are the most generous people on earth. When earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes strike across the globe, it’s the Americans who respond first. America is both sui generis and exceptionally generous. Some are just more generous than others.