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What Are the Most and Least Charitable States? — Dollars and Sense

Joelk75, flickr

It’s not uncommon for the religious faithful to tithe, or donate, a portion of their earnings to a church — so it shouldn’t be surprising that some of the most conservative and religious states in the US have been deemed the most charitable.

Using IRS data from 2008, researchers from the Chronicle of Philanthropy found that demographic characteristics like religion have a lot to do with how much we give to charity.

For example, Utah came in at the top of the list. The majority of the state’s residents are Mormon, and since adherents to the faith are encouraged to tithe 10 percent of their income, Utah residents gave an average of 10.6 percent of their pay to the church.

Religious donations were also responsible for three other conservative states making the top five — Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee.

But Alan Wolfe, a political science professor at Boston College, believes linking a state’s religious makeup to its generosity is misleading, saying that people in less religious states donate to charities based on need rather than religious affiliation. And when only secular gifts are counted, things can shift substantially — for instance, Pennsylvania goes from number 40 on the list all the way up to number four.

So really, it’s all a matter of how you slice and dice the data. But counting donations to all charities — including religions — here are the most and least charitable states.

Most Charitable

1. Utah
2. District of Columbia
3. Mississippi
4. Alabama
5. Tennessee

Least Charitable

1. New Hampshire
2. Maine
3. Vermont
4. Massachusetts
5. Rhode Island

[ABC News]

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