Mississippi is one of the most generous states in the nation. That’s according to a new report that, as MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports, says the Magnolia state has the 2nd highest rate of charitable giving in the U.S.
The new report by the Chronicle of Philanthropy looked at IRS data from 2012, and compared it to 2006. One national trend they found: those who make more money have reduced the share of income they donate. Those with lower incomes, increased it.
That’s a trend that Carol Burger, president of United Way of the Capitol Area, says she’s seen in Mississippi for years. She says those with the least generally give the most if you look at it as a percentage of their income.
"I think they understand that they can be one paycheck away from needing help," she says. "But even more than that, I think they just see the value of giving back. They're grateful for having a job. They're grateful they're able to take care of their families. And I think it's just part of them being grateful for being able to give a little bit back to help others."
On the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Salvation Army Major Gary Sturdivant says he’s not surprised by the state’s high ranking. He thinks, in his area, that's part of the legacy of Hurricane Katrina.
"There are some folks who still haven't recovered from this storm," he says. "Some folks have, and they've got back on their feet and they're successful like they were before, and they remember what it's like to not have a home, to not have a bottle of water. They really know what need is, and so they are reaching out when they have a little bit to give to their fellow man."
The United Way's Burger also says she’s not surprised by these figures, especially since they include donations to churches and school groups, like alumni associations.
"We own our churches, we own our schools, and we donate to them, so that part of it didn't surprise me," she says. "I just wish we could say the same thing about the other non-profit sector as relates to organizations that are trying to work to change community conditions. That's where I think we don't get the giving that we need."
The report says Mississippians donated an average of just under 5 percent of their income to charity. Noxubee County, at 10 percent, had the highest rate of giving in the state.
Illustration: A map showing giving trends in the United States. The darker green indicates a higher ratio of giving to income. Map created by Chronicle of Philanthropy.