How generous is your state? Utah ranks first, southern and southwestern states last
Leading the U.S. in reported generosity, Utah has landed itself first in the nation in a recent Gallup poll measuring charitable giving in donated money and volunteered time, all self-reported.
In a telephone survey (the survey polled a random sample of about 600 adults per state), 71 percent of Utahns said they donated money, while 56 percent volunteered their time. According to the report, 48 percent of Utahns donated both time and money.
Fast Company pointed out that across the United States, people are more likely to donate money than volunteer their time. Many are also attributing Utah's ranking to the fact that roughly two-thirds of the state's population are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which asks members to give 10 percent of their income to the church.
"Coming in at the bottom of the list were many southern and southwestern states, joined by New York, where only 26% of people gave both time and money recently (with 65% giving a donation and 36% volunteering)," Fast Company reported.
Gallup also found the more religious a state is, the more it is likely to be among the top states for generosity. Plus, states with higher well-being measured in previous studies were more likely to be among the most generous, although that doesn't mean the relationship is causative because giving is also related to income, which directly affects people's reported well-being.
"Given the relationships Gallup finds between religiosity and wellbeing, it's not too surprising that adults who say religion is an important part of their daily life are more likely to be civically engaged than those who say it is not," Gallup has said.
Five-Thirty-Eight writer Mona Chalabi questioned the poll's findings because they were self-reported.
"Some respondents in Gallup’s poll might not have given 100 percent squeaky-clean answers for fear of being judged uncharitable. So maybe people in Utah — where 71 percent of respondents said they had given money to charity, the highest share in the U.S. — aren’t necessarily the most generous; they could just be more ashamed to answer no," Chalabi wrote.
But another study by the Chronicle of Philanthropy confirms many of the results of the Gallup poll, using data from several government sources like the IRS and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which log actual donations made.
When annual donations per capita are examined, Utah's $827 in donations per capita is the highest in the country, Chalabi wrote. The 2012 report also found Utah's average percentage of median income given is the highest, at 10.6 percent. Mississippi, with the second highest average percentage of donations, falls far behind at 7.2 percent.
Amy McDonald hails from sunny St. George and is a graduate of BYU where she studied journalism, American studies and international development. She has written for The Salt Lake Tribune, Utah Valley magazine and loves backpacking.