Do you think your neighborhood is especially generous? About average? Undeniably stingy?
Most people would not classify themselves according to the last category, but that's part of the reason the report "How America Gives" was recently published by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
The data in the report is from a comprehensive study the publication conducted by zip code and income level in every municipality in the U.S., according to The Chronicle's website.
"The study is based on exact dollar amounts released by the Internal Revenue Service showing the value of charitable deductions claimed by American taxpayers," the article 'How The Chronicle Compiled Its Look at Giving Across America' says.
According to the data in the report, the 18055 zip code--which includes all of Hellertown and much of Lower Saucon Township--ranked 7,377 out of 28,725 areas surveyed in terms of total contributions recorded, with $4.5 million in contributions in 2008.
The 18015 zip code includes parts of Lower Saucon Township as well as Fountain Hill, parts of Bethlehem and Salisbury Township, recorded significantly higher giving, with a ranking of 3,181 out of 28,725 and $12.4 million in contributions in 2008.
Nationally, the average American household gives 4.7 percent of their median discretionary income of $54,783. The median contribution per American household was $2,564 in 2008.
Pennsylvania as a whole gave $4.7 billion to charity that year, which meant it ranked seventh out of 50 states and Washington, D.C. But Pennsylvanians had a median contribution of $2,181 out of discretionary income of $55,661 which put it at 40th out of 51. The median amount Pennsylvanians gave was 4.1 percent of their descretionary income.
The Chronicle found other interesting trends. States with large populations of religious people generally give more than those without. “Two of the top nine states--Utah and Idaho--have high numbers of Mormon residents, who have a tradition of tithing at least 10 percent of their income to the church,” a story on the Chronicle website noted. Salt Lake City households, for example, give a median of nine percent of their discretionary income. All the other states in the top nine are in the Bible Belt.
But, the Chronicle noted, “when religious giving isn’t counted, the geography of giving is very different. Some states in the Northeast jump into the top 10 when secular gifts alone are counted. New York would vault from No. 18 to No. 2, and Pennsylvania would climb from No. 40 to No. 4.”
Red states give more than blue states, the group said. “The eight states where residents gave the highest share of income to charity went for John McCain in 2008,” the story said. “The seven-lowest-ranking states supported Barack Obama.” Red states are Republican-dominated and blue states are Democratic-dominated.
Among the other findings included in the report are the following:
-- Those in the middle class give a much larger share of their income to charity--7.6 percent for Americans earning $50,000-$75,000--than the wealthy. Americans making more than $100,000 give an average of 4.2 percent.
-- Wealthy people who live in places surrounded by other rich people give a smaller share of their incomes than well-off Americans in diverse communities.
-- Residents from New England states like New Hampshire and Maine gave the smallest share of their discretionary income and those in Southern states gave the most.
-- Tax credits for giving make a big difference in how much people give. Arizona has special tax benefits for those who donate and charities are receiving more than $100 million each year.
To explore the information in "How America Gives" further, visit The Chronicle of Philanthropy website.
Data can be sorted by state, metro area, county, town and zip code, as well as contributions by household, discretionary income by household and percentage of income given by household.