The latest World Giving Index shows that Americans are among the globe’s most generous people, ranking fifth out of 140 countries.
U.S. donors in 2016 (the most recent year available) gave more than $389 billion to charity, with 72 percent of the funds coming directly from individuals, according to the National Philanthropic Trust.
However, according to the D.C.-based WalletHub, Americans do more than reach in their pockets to help others. They also contribute their time — and plenty of it.
Nearly 63 million people volunteer in the United States, serving a combined total of 7.9 billion hours per year, the equivalent of $184 billion worth of service.
WalletHub officials said, in the spirit of inspiring altruism, they’ve determined the most charitable of the 50 states (excluding D.C.) by comparing them across 14 key indicators of charitable behavior.
The data, which ranks Maryland No. 2 and Virginia at No. 7, set ranges from volunteer rate to share of income donated to share of sheltered homeless.
Best known for its high Mormon population, Utah ranked first for overall and earned points for having the highest volunteer rate, highest percentage of donated income and highest percentage of population who donated time.
WalletHub defines charitable as volunteering and service and charitable giving. Researchers also looked at factors such as community-service requirements for high school graduation and public charities per capita.
Utah was followed by Maryland, Minnesota, Wyoming and Wisconsin.
Completing the top 10 were Washington, Virginia, South Dakota, Georgia and Oklahoma.
Illinois was the top state for percentage of the population who donates money.
West Virginia was No. 1 for the percentage of population collecting and distributing food, while Vermont has the highest charities per capita, according to WalletHub.
Hawaii received the lowest overall ranking, also coming in last for percentage of people collecting and distributing food.
When asked how the current GOP tax reform plan might affect charitable giving, experts said there could be various factors involved.
“Certainly, those taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions may give less due to the lack of incentive in the proposed system,” said Siri Terjesen, the dean’s faculty fellow in entrepreneurship and director at AU Center for Innovation at American University in northwest D.C. “I don’t think individuals will stop giving, especially in the current situation with the improved economic environment.
“My hope is that individuals will become more selective with their gifts and do the research in advance of making donations,” said Terjesen, who added that it’s her hope that charities will become far more transparent in publishing data on their websites about their expense ratios, and manage even more actively to this — with the result of becoming more efficient and focused on their missions.
Dennis Anderson, a professor at Marshall University in West Virginia, said the GOP tax plan discourages and diminishes charitable given.
He said the biggest challenges facing U.S.-based charities in the current economic environment is “competition, donor fatigue, and determining the authenticity of the charity.”
Dr. Richard Waters, an associate professor in the school of management at the University of San Francisco, said his view on the tax reform plan as it pertains to charitable giving is that it likely would reduce the number of individuals filing itemized taxes since the standard deduction has been proposed to be doubled.
“Currently only 30 percent of U.S. households prepare itemized filings,” Waters said. “But keep in mind,90 percent give. People are already giving, albeit at lower gift levels, to nonprofits without itemizing it on their taxes.
“From what I’ve read about the proposals, the biggest impact would come from the elimination of state/local taxes, since that’s by far the largest segment that’s filed,” he said.
For the complete rankings and more information, go to www.wallethub.com.