’Tis the season for giving, and the latest World Giving Index shows that the United States has been the most generous country over the course of the last ten years. U.S. donors in 2019 gave more than $449 billion to charity, with 69% of the funds coming directly from individuals, according to the National Philanthropic Trust.
Americans do more than just reach in their pockets to help others, though. They also contribute their time — and plenty of it. Over 77 million people volunteer in the U.S., serving a combined total of 6.9 billion hours per year, the equivalent of $167 billion of service.
While the COVID-19 pandemic may have disrupted some volunteer opportunities in 2020, it hasn’t stopped people from giving. In fact, donor grantmaking was up 16% in the first four months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Plus, the COVID-19 stimulus will allow Americans to take an above-the-line tax deduction of $300 per person for charitable donations in 2020. In the spirit of inspiring altruism, WalletHub determined the most charitable of the 50 states by comparing them across 19 key indicators of charitable behavior. Our data set ranges from the volunteer rate to the share of income donated to the share of sheltered homeless.
Want to give back instead of receiving this holiday season? Use WalletHub’s Charity Calculator to help you determine how best to pitch in, depending on your resources and availability. You can also see where your money will be used most effectively by reading WalletHub’s report on Best Charities for 2021.
Most Charitable States in America
|Overall Rank*||State||Total Score||‘Volunteering & Service’ Rank||‘Charitable Giving’ Rank|
*No. 1 = Most Charitable
Difference Between the Percent of Population Who Claim to Have Donated Money and the Percent of Taxpayers Who Donated Money to Charity
Generosity of Red vs. Blue
Millennial Volunteering Rate Over Time
Not all charities are created equal. Choosing among them — in addition to deciding whether to give money, time or both and how much — can be a challenge. To help donors plan ahead and to provide insight on various charity issues, we asked a panel of experts to share their thoughts on the following key questions:
- What are the biggest challenges facing U.S.-based charities in the current economic environment?
- What percentage of income should households donate to charity?
- What advice do you have for choosing the right charity?
- Do you believe charities should face increased regulations and scrutiny in order to reduce fraud?
- What measures can local authorities take to raise awareness about COVID-19 charity scams?
- Should all nonprofits be able to receive tax-deductible contributions regardless of their mission?
Ask the Experts
In order to determine the most philanthropic states, WalletHub compared the 50 states across two key dimensions, “Volunteering & Service” and “Charitable Giving.”
We evaluated those dimensions using 19 key metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the “most charitable.”
Finally, we determined each state’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order the states.
Volunteering & Service – Total Points: 50
- Volunteer Rate: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Volunteer Retention Rate: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Volunteer Hours per Capita: Triple Weight (~12.50 Points)
- Community-Service Requirement for High School Graduation: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Share of Population Who Do Favors for Their Neighbors: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Amount of Money that People Would Lend Their Neighbors in Need: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Share of Population Collecting/Distributing Food: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Share of Population Collecting/Distributing Clothes: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Share of Population Fundraising or Selling Items to Raise Money: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Share of Residents Who Engage in General Labor (Supply Transportation for People): Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Charitable Giving – Total Points: 50
- Share of Income Donated: Double Weight (~11.11 Points)
Note: “Income” refers to aggregate gross income.
- Share of Population Donating Time: Full Weight (~5.56 Points)
Note: “Donors” refers to the share of the population who claim to have donated time.
- Share of Population Donating Money: Full Weight (~5.56 Points)
Note: “Donors” refers to the share of taxpayers who donated money to charity and the percentage of the population who claim to have donated money.
- Public Charities per Capita: Half Weight (~2.78 Points)
Note: “Public Charities” is based on the Internal Revenue Service’s definition of the term. Among others, these charities include “churches, hospitals, qualified medical research organizations affiliated with hospitals, schools, colleges and universities.” They do not include private foundations, most of which do not engage in “the direct operation of charitable programs.” However, religious organizations were included in the data for the following reasons: 1) the available data does not differentiate between secular charities and religious organizations, and 2) many donors and volunteers consider their contributions to such entities as “charitable giving.”
- 4-Star Charities per Capita: Half Weight (~2.78 Points)
- Charity Regulations: Full Weight (~5.56 Points)
- Google Search Interest for “Charitable Donations”: Full Weight (~5.56 Points)
Note: This metric measures the real intent of the population to find information using the following search terms: “volunteer”, “non profit organizations”, “charity”, “charitable donations” and “charitable organizations”. “Real intent” is measured using the average monthly search volumes for those specific terms.
- ‘Feeding America’ Food Banks per Capita: Full Weight (~5.56 Points)
- Share of Sheltered Homeless: Full Weight (~5.56 Points)
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Corporation for National & Community Service, Education Commission of the States (ECS), Fraser Institute, National Center for Charitable Statistics, Cogency Global, US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Internal Revenue Service, Feeding America, Charity Navigator, Windows USA, Google Ads and Gallup.