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Sunday, January 23, 2005

2004 Charity Index

The topic of charity has now come up in twice in national discussion during the last three months. The first when the Catalogue for Philanthropy published its yearly Generosity Index. The index appears to have a primary purpose to raise the awareness of individual giving with its catchy name. The secondary purpose is to shame those in wealthier states, particularly in the Northeast, into giving more to charity, with its flawed methodology.

The second national mention of charity was, of course, following the Dec. 26th tsunami with the charges of institutional stinginess directed at wealthy nations, the United States in particular. The Acton Institute and others have since highlighted how governmental aid is a myopic view of a nation's foreign charitable giving because it neglects giving from private sources, which in the case of the US dominates the government's foreign aid and is comprised mostly of contributions by individuals.

Considering these instances, as well as the idea that charitable giving can be used as a cultural tracking indicator, and the lack of a readily accessible alternative that is not seriously flawed in accounting for charitable contributions by non-itemizers (to my knowledge anyway), has prompted the creation of this version of Charity Index. The index is determined by a four-year average of charitable giving rank among the 50 states based on income tax return data. Using data from tax returns constrains inherently the accuracy of the overall figures and is difficult to quantify. The technical details and limitations of the 2004 Charity Index can be found here. Despite its limitations, it is hoped that the Charity Index will provide an interesting tool for examining some aspects of American culture.

2004 Charity Index
Based on index value of 4-year avg. rank in % est. avg. individual charitable contributions per avg. adjusted gross income from individual tax returns 1999-2002

Rank. State (index value)

1. Utah (1.00)
2. Alabama (2.75)
3. Mississippi (3.75)
4. Wyoming (4.75)
5. Oklahoma (5.00)
6. South Carolina (5.50)
7. Arkansas (7.25)
8. Idaho (7.50)
9. Georgia (8.25)
10. North Carolina (9.75)
11. Tennessee (11.00)
12. Maryland (12.50)
13. Nebraska (13.25)
14. New York (13.50)
15. Montana (14.50)
16. Oregon (16.50)
17. Kansas (17.50)
tie. Kentucky (17.50)
19. Louisiana (19.50)
20. Missouri (22.00)
21. Florida (23.25)
22. Arizona (24.75)
23. Virginia (25.25)
24. Michigan (25.50)
tie. New Mexico (25.50)
26. Texas (25.75)
27. Delaware (26.25)
28. California (27.25)
29. Minnesota (27.50)
30. Colorado (27.75)
31. Indiana (28.75)
32. Iowa (31.00)
33. South Dakota (32.00)
34. Hawaii (34.00)
35. Ohio (34.25)
36. Pennsylvania (35.25)
37. Nevada (37.75)
38. Illinois (38.00)
tie. North Dakota (38.00)
40. Washington (40.50)
41. Wisconsin (41.00)
42. West Virginia (42.75)
43. Alaska (43.00)
44. Maine (44.00)
45. Vermont (44.75)
46. New Jersey (45.50)
47. Massachusetts (46.75)
48. Connecticut (47.00)
49. Rhode Island (48.75)
50. New Hampshire (50.00)

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