Dan Lawlor: Rhode Island Lags Behind in Philanthropy
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Rhode Island has one of the worst cultures of philanthropy in the country. If you include religious and non-religious charitable donations, our giving rate is 3.1% of discretionary income, 46th in the country.
For what it's worth, in term of giving, we're ahead of Massachusetts (47th), Vermont (48th), Maine (49th) and New Hampshire (50th). Connecticut is ranked 45th.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy ranks states by charitable donations - including both religious and non-religious giving. According to the survey, the most generous state is Utah (due to the influence of the Mormon Church).
If you do not include religious donations, our region's overall ranking improves.
The Chronicle writes, "Donors in Southern states, for instance, give roughly 5.2 percent of their discretionary income to charity—both to religious and to secular groups—compared with donors in the Northeast, who give 4.0 percent.
But the generosity ranking changes when religion is taken out of the picture. People in the Northeast give the most, providing 1.4 percent of their discretionary income to secular charities, compared with those in the South, who give 0.9 percent."
I've had interesting conversations lately with some friends about making small monthly donations to area organizations. In difficult times like this, those of us who can, once helping out our families, should give back a bit more.
Recently, my girlfriend and I attended the AIDS Care Ocean State fundraiser. During the live auction, when bidding reached a lull, Miss Kitty Litter, one of the event's MCs, cajoled the crowd, "Come on, it's a tax write off!"
Over the last few years income taxes have been cut in the state. One of the theories behind that dubious proposal is that with extra cash people will re-invest in the community. It's time to re-invest. As people struggle, numerous organizations could use support for the good work they are doing.
From PRYSM to DARE, from the RI Philharmonic to City Arts for Youth, numerous organizations can always use a helping hand, as St. Patrick Academy President Steve Raymond has said, "with time or treasure."
Encouraging small donations from a wider base of people will help improve the accountability of organizations and strengthen experiences of numerous youth and families in this city and state. A lot of good is waiting to happen.
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