Study: Jamaica Plain is More Charitable Than Rest of Massachusetts — But That Ain't Saying Much

JP residents give 4.1 percent of their income to charity. That's more than the average Bay Stater but below the 4.7 percent national average.

If you had to list the 50 states in terms of how much their residents give to charity, where do you think the six in New England would rank? Would the relatively progressive attitudes in the Northeast correspond with a charitable mindset?

Doesn't look like it. In a recent analysis put out by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, New England states huddle at the rock bottom of the rankings, occupying numbers 45 to 50. Southerners give more than twice as much, while people in Utah give almost four times as much. 

According to The Chronicle's number, which were gleaned from tax returns, Bay Staters gave 2.8 percent of their discretionary income to charity, for a median contribution of $1,652.  

Jamaica Plain is more open-handed than the rest of the state, giving 4.1 percent of income. That's a tad less than the average in the city of Boston — 4.3 percent. The median contribution from residents of the 02130 Zip code is $1,892. See the numbers for zip codes across the United States here.

Jamaica Plain is a hotbed of charity activity in terms of being the headquarters of not-for-profits. More than 200 nonprofits call JP home.


Northeast Leads in Giving to Secular Causes

Although the South, and red states in general, shine when it comes to giving to charity, much of their largess goes to religious institutions. In terms of donations to secular charities, the Northeast actually edges out the rest of the country. 

Another interesting finding was that the rich aren't so generous: "Middle-class Amer­i­cans give a far bigger share of their discretionary income to charities than the rich. Households that earn $50,000 to $75,000 give an average of 7.6 percent of their discretionary income to charity, compared with an average of 4.2 percent for people who make $100,000 or more." And those who make more than $200,000 and live around other rich people are the least charitable, giving on average 2.8 percent of their income. 

"Simply seeing someone in need at the grocery store—or looking down the street at a neighbor’s modest house—can serve as basic psychological reminders of the needs of other people," Paul Piff, a postdoctoral scholar in psychology at the University of California at Berkeley, told The Chronicle. "Absent that, wealth will have these egregious effects insulating you more and more."


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