The 50 most charitable cities in America. Where does yours rank?

Posted August 9

With so much negativity in the news of late, the Barna Group decided to embark on a quest to help the world remember "the reality of human kindness."

"Stories of police brutality and violence against police, terrorist attacks and negative political rhetoric have filled the news cycle of late, making it easy to forget the reality of human kindness in the world," reads a statement from Barna.

So, the polling firm decided to dive into mounds of data and release a top-50 ranking of the most generous cities in America, basing the report on data collected from 76,505 U.S. adults over the past 10 years.

The cities included in the list are ranked by the percentage of residents who reported donating money to charity, including to religious groups and churches.

Based on that measure, the most generous cities in the listing were El Paso, Texas, and Las Cruces, New Mexico, with 92 percent of respondents located there expressing such charitable inclinations.

While El Paso and Las Cruces came in first place, Lexington, Kentucky, (91 percent) was second followed by Memphis, Tennessee (90 percent); Charleston-Huntington, West Virginia (90 percent); and Milwaukee (89 percent).

Barna also found that "the most generous cities aren’t necessarily the most wealthy." For instance, only 7 percent of adults in El Paso and Las Cruces had a household income over $75,000, with 13 percent having a household income of $20,000 or less.

The data also found that much of the giving in the top five cities was directed at churches, with 87 percent of adults giving to houses of worship in El Paso and Las Cruces.

The lowest percentage of church giving among the top fives cities was in Charleston-Huntington, West Virginia, where a majority — 64 percent — still reported giving money to houses of worship.

As for overall giving, majorities of surveyed residents in all 50 cities included in the rankings reported that they had given to charity, with 79 percent of those in Dayton, Ohio, which came in the 49th slot, reporting just that.

This is the same proportion for Washington, D.C., and Hagerstown, Maryland, the cities that came in the 50th slot.

Barna is hardly the first group to assess charitable giving at the city level, with other organizations looking at both states and countries to craft similar rankings.

In fact, Deseret News reported last December on state rankings, basing them on data surrounding both charitable giving and volunteerism.

Utah topped the list, with 46 percent saying that they had volunteered in the past year and 68 percent saying that they gave more than $25 to charity. Maryland came in second followed by Idaho, Oregon and South Dakota.

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