Who Are the Most Generous? Not Who You’d Expect.


The secret to becoming a cheerful giver is to remember whom we are giving to.

Where in the US are people the most generous? Based on stereotypes, one might be tempted to think of the South, because of its hospitality culture; or the West Coast with its activist streak; or perhaps the Northeast because of “old money.” However, according to a study by the Barna Group in 2019, the three most charitable cities in America are all in Idaho: Pocatella, Idaho Falls, and Jackson. Christians in these cities give on average $17,977 to charity annually. Surprisingly, Las Vegas—often called “Sin City”—comes in second with a rate of giving of $10,410. America’s largest cities do not even make it onto the list of the top 50 most charitable cities in the US. That means that Christians on average in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, and Philadelphia give less than $3,308 per year.

In another study (2017), the Barna Group found that age makes a significant difference in giving. Eighty-four percent of millennials report to giving less than $50 to charity per annum, even though charitable giving ranks high on their priorities. The most generous generation in the $500-$2,500 range is Gen X, and the most generous generation over $2,500 is comprised of those older than baby boomers. It would be easy to blame our materially obsessed culture, but Christians fare no better when it comes to giving.

According to Nonprofit Source, only 5 percent of church members give regularly. Households that make more than $75,000 are the least charitable. Nationwide, Christians today give 2.5 percent of their income. For comparison, during the Great Depression, that number was 3.3 percent. Thirty-seven percent of those who consider themselves evangelicals do not give to churches at all. …

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