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Brookline: How Charitable?

Brookline ranks 225 out of over 28,000 communities nationwide, and finds it beats the national giving average. Does this surprise you?

Massachusetts is one of the stingiest states when it comes to non-profit giving, a new study shows. Brookline, however, is among the most generous communities, at least in the Commonwealth.

According to a new study from the Chronicle of Philanthropy, New England is one of the stingiest areas when it comes to non-profits--a typical Massachusetts household gives only around 3 percent to charities, compared to 7 percent in states like Alabama and Mississippi, or 10 percent in Utah.

Brookline, however, is ranked 225 out of 28,725 communities according to Philanthropy's interactive giving map, and the Chestnut Hill zip code stands at 226. In total, in 2008 (the year from which the information is culled), both ZIP codes gave $49.3 million each, compared to $13.5 million in nearby Jamaica Plain, or $88 million from Concord. 

This translates to about 5.2 percent of the discretionary income for people in town going to charities. By comparison, all of Massachusetts is at 2.8 percent for the same statistic, and Norfolk County is at 3.6 percent. Brookline also beats the national average of 4.7 percent.

See the Chronicle's giving map for more data

The study found a red-blue divide, comparing the states which went to Pres. Barack Obama to those which went to Sen. John McCain in the last election. In 2008, McCain picked up the top eight states in terms of giving, while the bottom seven--Massachusetts included--went to Obama. 

The study also explores the impact of religion on giving, and found that, at 4 percent of discretionary income, New England is at the bottom when religious giving is taken into account--but when looking at secular giving only, the region shoots to the top with 1.4 percent. 

Following the wealth, the study also notes that most of the money going to charities comes out of the middle class — people earning between $50,000 and $75,000 are giving 7.6 percent of their discretionary income, while those getting $100,000 and up are closer to 4.2 percent. When a ZIP code has 40 percent of its populace making more than $200,000, that giving number drops to 2.8 percent

Bear in mind, the data was looking at pre-2008 tax returns for people earning $50,000 or more. The charitable givings are also culled from itemized tax returns, as non-itemized returns typically don't show charitable donations. 

See more about the study on the Chronicle of Philanthropy page.

What do you think about this data? For those willing to share, which charities and non-profits do you support?

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