Doylestown-area residents who make less money give higher percentages of their income to charity than do those who make more money.
That’s according to data from a study released this week by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
“How America Gives” examines charitable donations claimed by U.S. taxpayers on 2008 income tax returns, the most recent year for which such data are available. The Chronicle examined income levels and donations from taxpayers in every ZIP code in the country.
Because the cost of living varies widely across the country, the rankings were based on the percentage that households donated from their discretionary income - money they had left after paying taxes and covering housing, food, and other essential expenses, the organization said.
In total, the Central Bucks area gave nearly $68 million to charity in 2008, according to the study.
More than half of that, about $39 million, came from the Doylestown area zip codes of 18901 and 18902.
Middle class Doylestown households who made less than $100,000 gave 6 percent of their discretionary income to charity in 2008, according to the study. Those who made $100,000 to $199,999 gave 3.5 percent and those who made $200,000 or more gave 3.3.
In 18901, for example, 2,280 tax returns revealed an average discretionary income of $30,056. Those households gave an average of $1,807 to charity, or 6 percent of that income.
On the upper end of the income scale, 1,300 tax returns revealed an average discretionary income of $265,102. Their average charitable contribution was $8,684, or 3.3 percent of that income.
In the Buckingham zip code of 18912, 29 tax returns revealed an average discretionary income of $395,237. Their average charitable contribution was $8,133, or 2.1 percent of that income.
That pattern holds constant across the country, The Chronicle said.
"When measured in total dollars donated, affluent people give the most," the study said, but when measured by percentage of income, it is the lower and middle class who are more generous.
"The nation’s most-generous ZIP codes aren’t its richest," the authors concluded, adding, "In city after city, it’s the low-income residents who lift giving levels."
The Chronicle's study explores many aspects of giving, including how tax breaks, politics, and faith affect generosity. To read more in detail, visit The Chronicle's website.
One local nonprofit that's on the receiving end of charitable has seen more members donating what they can.
The has raised about $455,000 from its campaign this year, director Zane Moore said Thursday. That's about double the amount it has traditionally raised, he said.
"We’re seeing a major increase in charitable giving to the Y," Moore said, crediting it to constant work by staff to communicate the Y's mission, and new programs such as free memberships for 7th graders and Thrive, for cancer survivors.
The number of members who have donated to the Y has increased from 5.5 percent of active members to 8.6 percent this year, Moore said. Those donations come in a range of amounts.
"We take donations from $5 up to $100,000," he said. "Sometimes the $5 ones are just as impactful, because they’re given by someone who maybe can’t afford it but they’ve been served by our programs here and they want to turn around serve others. So I like the $5 or $50 ones just as much."
Want to find out how much you and your neighbors give? Check the data, broken down by zip code below. To dig deeper into the data or to search other zip codes, check out the study's interactive tool.
Ranking: 1,250 of 28,725
Total contributions: $22.7 million
Median contribution: $2,638
Median discretionary income: $71,007
Percent given: 3.7%
Ranking: 2,185 of 28,725
Total contributions: $16.3 million
Median contribution: $2,733
Median disc. income: $100,485
Percent given: 2.7%
Ranking: 16,417 of 28,725
Total contributions: $651,312
Median contribution: $3,744
Median disc. income: $67,901
Percent given: 5.5%
Ranking: 16,752 of 28,725
Total contributions: $612,791
Median contribution: $1,979
Median disc. Income: $55,152
Percent given: 3.6%
Ranking: 15,447 of 28,725
Total contributions: $779,475
Median contribution: $2,261
Median disc. Income: $74,335
Percent given: 3.0%
Ranking: 7,914 of 28,725
Total contributions: $4 million
Median contribution: $2,380
Median disc. Income: $91,713
Percent given: 2.6%
Ranking: 18,753 of 28,725
Total contributions: $431,526
Median contribution: $4,441
Median disc. Income: $88,528
Percent given: 5.0%
Ranking: 3,255 of 28,725
Total contributions: $12.1 million
Median contribution: $2,078
Median disc. Income: $68,926
Percent given: 3.0%
Ranking: 3,937 of 28,725
Total contributions: $10.3 million
Median contribution: $2,127
Median disc. Income: $66,026
Percent given: 3.2%