With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it appears that Provo/Orem, Ogden/Clearfield and Salt Lake City are the three most giving and charitable metro areas in the United States.

Utah overall is the top state for charitable giving in the country, while Provo/Orem ranks first overall. This is all according to SmartAsset.com and WalletHub.com.

“Utah County has always had a reputation for being a caring community, and it is nice to see the data backing that reputation,” said Bill Hulterstrom, president and CEO of United Way of Utah County. “At United Way, we are seeing an increased desire to make a difference as more people are looking to find meaningful ways to both volunteer and give. We are working hard to help people match their passions with the best ways to give, particularly during this time.”

SmartAsset and WalletHub are both online financial advisors and watchdogs that run data surveys on a number of issues that affect the country.

SmartAsset’s findings on giving and volunteerism include the following information:

“Not only does Utah rank first for the volunteering metrics (which are calculated at the state level), but the cities also all do well in the money-giving metrics, possibly because many people in the state are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and tithe a percentage of their salary each year (generally at least 10%),” SmartAsset reports.

Provo-Orem

The Provo-Orem area leads the list for the second year in a row, proving that residents in the home of Brigham Young University have serious charity bona fides, according to SmartAsset.

“The Provo metro area finishes first in terms of charitable contributions as a percentage of income, with residents donating 6.68% of their income to others,” the SmartAsset study said.

The volunteer rate in Utah is 51.0%, ranking first for that statewide metric as well. The 2017 average charitable contribution for folks in Provo-Orem was $13,346, ranking second-highest in this study.

“Provo’s city slogan is ‘Welcome Home,’ chosen specifically to reflect the caring and giving nature of our community,” said Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi. “I’m proud our welcoming spirit is being noticed throughout the nation.”

Kaufusi noted that during this financially trying time, she is gratified to know the community still values the importance of giving to those in need.

“We are honored to join with Orem in being named the most generous place nationwide — for two years running,” Kaufusi said. “However, this honor is a reflection of our community and, as such, the true gratitude goes to our citizens. Let’s go for three in a row!”

Ogden-Clearfield

Charitable contributions make up 4.85% of income for residents of the Ogden-Clearfield metro area, the second-highest percentage in this study.

“A charitable donation appears on 33.02% of tax returns in the metro area, the eighth-highest percentage we observed,” SmartAsset reports. “The metro area also benefits from the fact that Utah takes first in the statewide volunteer rate category, as well as fifth in the average number of hours a volunteer spends helping each year (another state-level metric).”

Salt Lake City

The final Utah metro area, coming in at third on this list, is the state capital, Salt Lake City. As with the other two Beehive State metro areas above, Salt Lake City benefits from the fact that Utah ranks well on two state-level metrics — volunteer rate (first place) and average hours spent volunteering (fifth place).

“In terms of metro area-specific metrics, Salt Lake City sees residents donate 3.94% of their income to charity, the fifth-highest rate in the study. The average charitable contribution for Salt Lake City is $9,307, ranking 16th out of 171,” SmartAsset’s study said.

What is noticeable is the effect the pandemic is having on charitable giving.

About three in four American adults or 73% said they donated money to a charitable organization in the past year, according to an April 2020 Gallup poll.

“That’s a new record low, beneath even the charitable giving rate of the Great Recession era,” SmartAsset reports. “Though the coronavirus pandemic, with its elevated unemployment, may have made Americans less likely to steer their money toward altruistic causes, the generosity they do spread is something financial advisors strongly recommend to reduce their clients’ tax liabilities.”

Just how did Provo-Orem get the top spot? The SmartAsset methodology covers the following:

  • Charitable contributions as a percentage of income. Data comes from the IRS and is for 2017.
  • Percentage of tax returns with charitable donations. Data comes from the IRS and is for 2017.
  • Average charitable contribution amount. Data comes from the IRS and is for 2017.
  • Volunteer rate. Data is from NationalService.gov and is measured at the state level. It is for 2018, the most recent data available.
  • Hours spent per volunteer. Data is from NationalService.gov and is measured at the state level. It is for 2018, the most recent data available.

The full report, including the methodology and rankings, can be found here: http://smartasset.com/financial-advisor/places-where-americans-give-the-most-to-charity-2020 .

WalletHub reports that the latest World Giving Index shows that the United States has been the most generous country over the course of the last 10 years.

Utah ranked as the top charitable state in the U.S.

According to WalletHub’s methodology Utah was highest in volunteer rate, percentage of donated income, percentage of population that donates time and highest percentage of population that donated money.

U.S. donors in 2019 gave more than $449 billion to charity, with 69% of the funds coming directly from individuals, according to the National Philanthropic Trust.

“Americans do more than just reach in their pockets to help others, though. They also contribute their time — and plenty of it,” WalletHub said. “Over 77 million people volunteer in the U.S., serving a combined total of 6.9 billion hours per year, the equivalent of $167 billion of service.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic may have disrupted some volunteer opportunities in 2020, it hasn’t stopped people from giving. In fact, donor grant making was up 16% in the first four months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, according to WalletHub research.

WalletHub determined the most charitable of the 50 states by comparing them across 19 key indicators of charitable behavior. Their data set ranges from the volunteer rate to the share of income donated to the share of sheltered homeless.

For the full report visit:

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can be contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801) 344-2910, Twitter @gpugmire

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