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Survey Shows Utah At Top Of Charitable Giving List

With Americans having donated nearly $485 billion in 2021, up 4 percent from the previous year, the personal-finance website WalletHub this month released its report on the Most Charitable States for 2023, along with accompanying videos and expert commentary. It also released its picks for the Best Charities for 2023 and a Charity Calculator to help donors decide where and how to give.

To determine where the most generous Americans are inspiring others to be more selfless, WalletHub compared the 50 states based on 19 key indicators of charitable behavior. The data set ranges from the volunteer rate to the share of income donated to the share of sheltered homeless.

Topping the list as the most charitable state was Utah, followed by Maryland at second, Minnesota, third; North Dakota, Oregon, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Ohio and Virginia rounding out the top 10. Ranking 11th through 20th were Maine, 11; Alaska, Colorado, New Hampshire, Washington, Texas, North Carolina, Arkansas, New York and Massachusetts coming in at number 20.


Key Stats

• The charities with the highest ratings from WalletHub include the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International, Animal Welfare Institute and World Resources Institute.

• Vermont has the most charities per capita, 55.07, which is 2.6 times more than in Utah, the state with the fewest at 21.09.

• Utah has the highest volunteer rate, 51.00 percent, which is 2.2 times higher than in Florida, the state with the lowest at 22.80 percent.

• Utah has the most volunteer hours per capita, 57.59, which is 3.3 times more than in Mississippi, the state with the fewest at 17.27.


Expert Commentary

What are the biggest challenges facing US-based charities in the current economic environment?

“Some evidence suggests that donors/donations are pretty resilient to inflation and we’ve seen lots of positive, charitable responses to the needs raised by the pandemic. That said, donations are somewhat sensitive to the strength of the stock market. General economic confidence is an important factor that US-based charities should consider in predicting donations. Another important consideration for US-based charities is to realize that while donations have remained high, the average donor profile continues to shift away from the middle class. Fewer, larger gifts from more wealthy donors have become the norm. Charities that have typically relied on more, smaller gifts from less-wealthy donors will need to account for this trend, which seems to have some permanence.”

Robert K. Christensen, Ph.D. – Professor and Research Fellow, Brigham Young University


What advice do you have for choosing the right charity?

“The right charity is the charity that resonates with a donor’s values, stewards their money well, and demonstrates impact or the ability to impact the world through its mission. Of course, you want to be a wise steward of your funds, so check the organization’s financial outlook through annual or financial reports that transparent organizations will have access to on their websites or you can find financial documents for many charities on Candid, formerly GuideStar. I encourage folks to look across three to five years for a stronger understanding of your charity’s financial health than just a one-year snapshot. Also, some watchdog charities such as the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance or Charity Navigator rate organizations and can offer additional information about an organization’s adherence to best practices regarding board governance or financial reporting, but donors should also know these ratings do not tell much, if any, of the story about an organization’s impact.”

Margaret F. Sloan, Ph.D. – Director, Professor and Advisor, Nonprofit and Community Leadership Concentration, James Madison University


What percentage of income should households donate to charity?

“There is no magic number here, and certainly, no answer that applies to everyone. The question is both a financial and a moral one. It is a bit of a cliche, but I believe there is some wisdom in giving until it hurts just a little.”

Curtis Child – Department Chair and Associate Professor, Sociology Department, Brigham Young University