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A study from the Chronicle of Philanthropy tracked charitable giving across the United States, down to the ZIP code level. The 2008 data shows people who live in wealthy communities tend to give a lesser portion of their income to charity than people who live in more economically diverse neighborhoods.

Out of sight, out of mind?

The journal writes:

A new Chronicle study of tax records shows that of the top 1,000 ZIP codes that give the biggest share of income, only nine are among the nation’s 1,000 richest ZIP codes. In city after city, it’s the low-income residents who lift giving levels.


Paul Piff, a postdoctoral scholar in psychology at the University of California at Berkeley, says he has conducted studies showing that as wealth increases, people become more insulated, less likely to engage with others, and less sensitive to the suffering of others.

Does this hold true for Monroe County’s communities? The short answer is yes.

On average, Monroe County residents gave 5.3 percent of their income to charity in 2008, amounting to a total of $296.9 million. The median contribution was $2,183. Monroe County ranks in the middle of the pack nationally on gift-giving.

Residents of the Rochester’s more diverse neighborhoods who filed tax returns gave a greater percentage of their incomes to charity than those who live in the more affluent suburbs. However, residents of affluent suburbs gave far more money as a whole.

Here are some of the ZIP codes, the percentage of the income that went to charity, the median amount of the gift, and the national rank of charitable giving a percentage of income:

Rochester, 14604 (Downtown) – 8.2 percent, $4,329, 2,406

Rochester, 14608 (Corn Hill) – 7.9 percent, $2,551, 2,702

Rochester, 14621 (Northeast), 7.7 percent, $2,742, 3,036

Rochester, 14611 (West side) – 7.3 percent, $2,536, 3663

Rochester, 14610 (Browncroft) – 5.6 percent, $3,235, 7,744

Brighton, 14618 – 4.9 percent, $3,217, 10,382

Greece, 14626, 4.8 percent, $1,947, 11,202

Rochester, 14620 (Highland area) – 4.5 percent, $1,861, 12,588

Pittsford, 14634 – 4.3 percent, $3,227, 13,729

Henrietta, 14467 – 3.9 percent, $1,932, 16,331

Webster, 14580 – 3.7 percent, $2,157, 17,800

Irondequoit, 14617 – 3.6 percent, $1,748, 18,429

Honeoye Falls, 14472 – 3.6 percent, $2,450, 18,450

Victor, 14564 – 3.2 percent, $2,244, 21,086

The data is interesting, but I’m not sure it’s an indictment on the wealthy. For one thing, they pay more in taxes to support those who are less fortunate. Also, as a whole they gave far more to charity. Pittsford alone gave $44 million in 2008. However, for some people, perhaps it’s a reminder they could do more.

What are your thoughts about the study?

Links of the Day:

– Monroe County is among those ordered by the state to assist Puerto Rican voters on Election Day.

– Pier 45 continues to be a drain on taxpayers. If this was a private venture, it would have closed long ago.

– My parents had a bat in the house a couple days ago. People are seeing more of them this summer.

– Wild geese are “terrorizing” some Buffalo area residents.

– Western New York has a haven for people who claim to talk to the dead.

5 Responses to Do the Wealthy Give Less?

  1. There are too many factors that the study doesn’t account for:
    -Households earning under $50,000 were not included.
    -There can be incredible income disparity within a zip code (take NYC, for example). When accounting for giving after living expenses, etc, the numbers would be extremely skewed.
    -Because of income disparity (percentage of wealthy, opposed to not), an us vs. them model doesn’t work.
    -Unlike someone like Tom Golisano, others choose to give non-publicly.
    -Not everyone writes off charitable donations..or accounts for all of them.
    -Not all giving is monetary. I don’t have the data, but I’d imagine that it’s a fairly large number that isn’t factored in here.

  2. Definitely out of sight out of mind. Many suburbanites are afraid to go to the city for any reason. Why did Pickle Ball get chosen at Ontario Beach Park, which is county run over Basketball which is more widely played? The income inequality is perpetuated by the huge divide in experience and giving to charities. It’s also more fashionable to have a race where the well off are running for charity rather than actually giving and working on things the actual receipientsnof the charity might need or enjoy. There is rarely any contact with the poor or needy by visiting them on their turf.

  3. August 21, 2012 at 1:05 pm justaguy responds:

    Bats should be welcomed, not in the home due to droppings, but people work hard to attract bats. Look up building a “bat house” for info. Bats control insect problems if they are allowed to but many people ignorantly fear them or claim they spread disease but bats are a good thing. Go bats!

  4. August 21, 2012 at 1:38 pm Orielly responds:

    The basic premise is that all HAVE to give to charity. Not true. It is their money, they can do what they want with it. Non profits, funding studies with those funds, to see what wealthy zip codes give the most to charities or non profits, and there by chastising those that don’t, is in itself is a mis-use of their funding. A key reason why people give less to charity. Who wants to give to United Way when they have raced based “leadership” development programs that exclude whites and fast track minorities for charitable board of director positions?

  5. August 22, 2012 at 1:15 pm RaChaCha responds:

    I’d love to see the stats for 14607 (my old Rochester neighborhood). We shouldn’t be too hard on the folks in the ‘burbs — it’s tough out there with the auto payments, insurance, gas, tires, oil. For each household member over 16.

    Sorry it took me so long to weigh in — I spent the morning running from the attack geese that are terrorizing my Buffalo neighborhood. Always a bad crowd hanging out around the neighborhood watering hole, right–?

    BTW, we’re doing some cool things with bats here:

    So between the geese, the bats, and the chickens across the street…lotsa winged things here in Buffalo. But no problem — we’re the city that turned wings into a delicacy!

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