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Archive for Wednesday, November 5, 2003

N.H. keeps title as stingiest state

November 5, 2003

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— New Hampshire is holding tightly to its distinction as the stingiest state, according to an annual index of charitable giving.

For the last three of five years, New Hampshire has been at the bottom of the "Generosity Index," which compares what residents of each state earn and how much they give. New Hampshire surrendered the miserly title to Rhode Island the other two years.

New Hampshire residents gave $462 million, an average of about $2,400 per taxpayer, according to The Catalogue for Philanthropy. That looks especially stingy considering the state's relative wealth. Its average income of $51,000 is eighth-highest in the country, while its average giving ranks 48th.

By comparison, Mississippi, the most generous state, had an average income of $34,000 -- the lowest in the country. But residents still gave enough to match the national average of $3,500 a person.

The index reflects itemized charitable donations reported on 2001 federal tax returns, the latest available.

New Hampshire's New England neighbors -- Rhode Island, Vermont, Connecticut and Maine -- are all among the 20 least generous states.

By comparison, Bible Belt states like Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana and South Carolina are all among the top 10.

The regional difference has been attributed to the Southern Christian practice of tithing -- giving a tenth of your income to the church.

The Catalogue for Philanthropy is a Needham, Mass.-based nonprofit that publishes a directory of nonprofit organizations. The organization created the index seven years ago.

Kansas ranked 18th of 50 states on the Generosity Index, with the 26th highest income and the 19th highest total of charitable donations.

This year's rankings reveal how Americans responded to the economic turndown, spokesman Marty Cohn said.

Overall, the country's average adjusted gross income fell 3 percent from 2000 to 2001, but itemized charitable donations fell more quickly, by 4 percent.

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