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Good Question: How Giving Are Minnesotans?

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s the one day charities are emailing us to the max.

On Give to the Max day, many of us are thinking about charitable giving. So where does Minnesota rank in giving? And how much are most Minnesotans donating to charity?

“Minnesotans are very generous,” said Anne Bauers, research manager for Minnesota Council on Foundations. They publish the annual report Giving in Minnesota.

“Minnesota ranks 21st in terms of population, and 17th in terms of total individual giving. So we do out-perform our size,” she said.

Overall, Minnesota gave $5.2 billion in 2010, according to Bauers. Individuals gave $3.8 billion of that total (73 percent).

The Chronicle of Philanthropy also analyzed income tax returns from around the country, and of the people who itemize their charitable donations in their taxes in Minnesota, the median charitable donation is $2,213 — or 4.1 percent of a donor’s discretionary income.

“And that puts us in the middle in terms of average per state,” Bauers said.

Philanthropy ranks Minnesota 35 out of 51 units (they include Washington, D.C.), but there are a number of states hovering around 4.0-4.2 percent of discretionary income.

Utah leads the nation, donating 10 percent of income. That’s largely because of the Mormon Church’s tradition of tithing.

Bauers said it’s difficult to compare state-to-state, because of different laws. In Minnesota, there’s a high percentage of people who itemize — even if they don’t make major deductions — that brings down the average donation.

Across the country, wealthy donors are critical for amassing dollars for charities, but wealth alone isn’t a direct line to donations.

“If there is more disparity of wealth in your neighborhood, you’re more likely to give more. If you have like incomes, you’re more likely to give less,” Bauers said.

In Minnesota, corporate and foundation giving made up $1.4 billion (27 percent of all Minnesota giving), which is a higher rate than the national average. That might be because of the high concentration of corporate headquarters and private foundations in Minnesota, Bauers said.

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