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The Most and Least Charitable States


Tis the season of giving. And while it's better to give than to receive, not all of us do the former as well as we perhaps should.


Tis the season of giving. And while it’s better to give than to receive, not all of us do the former as well as we perhaps should.

The consumer finance website WalletHub used the holidays as an occasion to ask which states are the most charitable. The site looked at a variety of data, including rates of volunteerism, levels of financial donations, and the percentage of residents who reported donating their time to charity.

In general, Americans have been giving robustly, according to a report by the University of Indiana — Purdue University Indianapolis. The school found Americans gave $335 billion to charity in 2013, a number that comes close to reaching the nation’s pre-recession giving level.

Below are the 5 most and 5 least charitable states, according to WalletHub’s study. The descriptions include data from WalletHub and from the Urban Institute’s 2013 “Profiles of Individual Charitable Contributions by State” report, which sheds light on how much individual taxpayers gave.

Omaha, Nebraska

Nebraska stands out for having the fifth-highest volunteerism rate in the nation. According to tax data compiled by the Urban Institute, residents of the state reported itemized charitable donations of more than $1.05 billion in 2011, the latest year for which a report was available. Those taxpayers reported an average charitable contribution of $3,976 for the year.

Image: Omaha

Wichita, Kansas

Kansas has the fourth-highest rate of volunteerism in the nation, according to WalletHub. The Urban institute data show Kansans reported giving some $1.7 billion in charitable donations in 2011, averaging $4,217 per itemizer.

Image: Wichita

Boise, Idaho

Idaho is another state where volunteerism contributed significantly. The state ranks third in that category, according to WalletHub. But Idaho residents are also not afraid to open their wallets, donating around $828 million in 2011, for an average of $3,860.

Image: Boise

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

South Dakotans rank fifth in terms of percentage of a state’s population who have donated time to charity. When it comes to money, the relatively small state donated $439 million in 2011, averaging $5,495.

Image: Sioux Falls

Salt Lake City, Utah

It’s not hard to see why Utah would win a giving competition. The state has the highest rate of volunteerism of any state. Its citizens have the highest average annual donation, and the highest proportion of the population giving time and money to charity. All told, the 2011 Urban Institute data show those who itemized their taxes gave an average of $6,547.

Image: Salt Lake City

Continue reading for the least charitable states.

Scottsdale, Arizona

The state scores poorly (fifth-worst) when it comes to rates of time donation to charities. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that it also scores in the bottom 5 in terms of number of charities per capita. Arizona residents reported $2.8 billion in charitable donations in 2011, according to the Urban Institute, a figure that averages out to $3,140 per contribution.

Image: Scottsdale

Newark, New Jersey

The Garden State isn’t exactly the “Giving State,” according to WalletHub’s survey. New Jersey residents reported the fourth-lowest percentage of income donated to charity, and the third-lowest growth in charitable giving between 2006 and 2012. State residents reported more than $5.2 billion in charitable donations in 2011, but that averaged out to just $2,827 per donor.

Image: Newark

Bowling Green, Kentucky

Kentucky comes in last place when ranked by the percentage of a state’s population that has donated time to charity. It’s tied for second-to-last when ranked by the percentage who has given money to charity. Those who do give reported an average of $3,394 in 2011, according to the Urban Institute.

Image: Bowling Green

Wheeling, West Virginia

West Virginia is not an outlier in any of the data categories WalletHub pulled out in its survey. But when the components are added together, the state comes in near the very bottom. The state’s residents reported a total of $491 million in charitable giving in 2011, averaging $3,305 per tax return.

Image: Wheeling

Las Vegas, Nevada

The state where people go in hopes of getting rich doesn’t do so well in terms of giving back. Nevada has the third-lowest volunteerism rate and the fourth-lowest financial donation rate. In 2011, residents reported average annual donations of $3,712. However, the state has been stepping up its charitable game. In fact, the state had the fastest growth in giving of any state between 2006 and 2012, according to WalletHub.

Image: Las Vegas

Read WalletHub’s complete state rankings here.

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