Comments about ‘How generous is your state? Utah ranks first, southern and southwestern states last’

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Published: Thursday, May 15 2014 4:00 a.m. MDT

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Orem, UT

Get ready for all the "tithing and church callings aren't charity" messages. For some people, charity seems to be ONLY acceptible if it involves directly giving food and money to a homeless person.

While giving basic things to someone in need is a very noble and charitable thing, there are lots of charitable ways to give to your community. These include spending time with young people or visiting the elderly or cleaning up a widow's yard or a park. Teaching scouts how to swim or building churches are good things too.

Donating money and time to worthy organizations (including the LDS church) that help people other than yourself is a really good thing - even if some people may not personally like that church.

Tithing and service are commandments but they aren't laws. It is volunteered even if you are a member.

Chris B
Salt Lake City, UT

Are Utah's numbers inflated?

Probably, just as every other state's is likely inflated. The rankings likely still hold.

"Gallup also found the more religious a state is, the more it is likely to be among the top states for generosity. "

Not surprising.

New York, liberal hot bed, at the very bottom.

Also not surprising


Not surprising that our fair state is at the bottom. Not much left over after the high taxes we are coerced into paying!

Gilbert, AZ

This is what I admire about Utah and why it is state filled with wonderful people.

Everett, 00

What? How can that be?

New York is home to WallStreet,
and thousands of Billionaires,
and ten's of thousands of Millionaires?

I don't think this so much a Utah vs. New York issue,
as much as I see it as a poor vs. rich issue.

The poor have always been more charitable than the rich,
and as been proven in a thousand other studies.

Salt Lake City, UT

And Liberals would have you believe how they are the party that cares about the poor.......but facts prove otherwise!

Amazing that NY is DEAD LAST! Just goes to show who really cares about the poor, its the GOP!

Virginia Beach, VA

"Utah has landed itself first in the nation in a recent Gallup poll measuring charitable giving in donated money and volunteered time, all self-reported."

" . . . all self-reported?"

Realistically, what does that mean?

It means that Utah is either the most generous state, OR . . . It means that Utah is the most dishonest state.

Naval Vet
Philadelphia, PA


"Just goes to show who really cares about the poor, its the GOP!"

That's quite a stretch of logic. For starters, that poll incorporated "tithing" as "charitable giving" when it really isn't. It certainly counts as "charitable giving" as far as one's Schedule A is concerned, but tithing is really a "commandment", so as far as I'm concerned, my paying it really no more charitable than my paying my utility bill.

If the GOP really WERE the ones who care about the poor, then why isn't NY at the top of that list. Look at all those Wall Street billionaires. With all that money, you'd think they'd keep the Empire State out of the basement.

And for what it's worth, had you ever actually LIVED in NY? Do you know what the cost of living index is back there? Maybe those New Yorkers don't have as much disposable income to hand out.

Rocket Science
Brigham City, UT

This kinda sounds like it was just adults surveyed. It may and may not take into account the time and efforts of good works done by our youth. Think of all the time and effort on Eagle Scout, Girl Scout and High School Class and many other service projects accomplished by our youth. I am sure that youth would contribute significantly in additional time spent in service.

USS Enterprise, UT

To "airnaut" your hatred of Utah and the wealthy is well known.

The problem with blaming the rich, is that in a place like New York State, they make up a small percentage of the people. The wealthy people could be very generous in New York, the problem is that the rest of the people are not.

The Wraith
Kaysville, UT

I thought the same thing Rocket. Because this survey only relies on self reporting it's pretty invalid. There has been a great deal of scientific research showing that people active in religion tend of over report what they give to charity in these types of surveys. What happens is when they are asked people report what they feel like they should be giving instead of what they actually are giving.

I'm not saying that all the people in Utah lied - just that these types of studies need to be looked at a bit more skeptically.

Syracuse, UT

I don't think it is so much that people in the GOP care more about the poor, as much as they are the ones who DO something about it. The left is all talk and say things that are PC but so unwilling to put their money where their mouth is.

NotInMiami, FL

NavalVet: Tithing is a commandment but so is being charitable. Just because something is a commandment doesn't mean it means it is no longer charitable. People are not forced to keep commandments. Further, charity is motivational and emotional - it is love (the pure love of Christ). Actions do not always reveal motivations. This means in part that just because one person pays tithing just because doesn't mean someone else does so without charity.

"Why isn't NY at the top of that list. Look at all those Wall Street billionaires."

A lot of the Wall Street billionaires are Democrats and a lot are Republicans and a lot are Independents (not that there are a lot of billionaires - there are only 67 out of the 19.5 million people in New York). Read Arthur Brooks's book "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism" for a thorough, scientific analysis of political, religious, ideological factors influencing charitable giving. The author considered himself a liberal when he started working on the book but was surprised with what his statistical analyses showed (secular liberals give the least money, donations, and time).

Salt Lake City, UT

The thing with church donations is that a lot of it just goes to upkeep of the church. Is that charity? Maybe. I pay membership dues to a club (which are used for activity funds); are those charity too? I'd say no.

Of course there are a lot of church donations that are obviously charitable like the fast offerings and humanitarian aid contributions (certainly others as well) so it's not like one can say that ALL church donations aren't charitable either.

There might be one other quirk with churches though, particularly the LDS church. Full tithing is 10%, but if left to their own devices (by which I mean there being no attachment to the temple or any blessings related to it) would people still give 10%? Some might, others wouldn't. If someone would give 2% to the church, but is giving 10% due to a perceived need, is that 8% difference really charity, or is it more like a purchase?

So what is and isn't charity? I don't know, I think there's several different legitimate views to have.

lost in DC
West Jordan, UT

And numerous studies have also shown conservatives are much more generous than liberals. And while conservatives give time and money to causes that help the poor, liberals give to animal rights groups, the arts, and other similar causes. But you choose not to cite those studies because they do not support your hatred of all things Utah. Makes one wonder if you’re not just really jealous???

Naval Vet
Thanks for proving JoeCapitalist 2 correct. By what measure are you saying tithing is not charitable? If you don’t pay your utility bill, the utility gets turned off. If you don’t pay your tithing, you can still go to church.

As for Wall Street, they gave more to the dems than the GOP, proving again the GOP really cares about the poor, while dems do not.

Don’t blame us that New Yorkers have voted in politicians who tax the life out of them. WE did not do that to them, they did it to themselves and are now dependent on it.

liberal larry
salt lake City, utah

Schucks,if Utah didn't deduct all that money from their taxes to give to "charities" maybe we could afford to pay for our schools!

Alpine, UT

@ GaryO and The Wraith:

Why would you (or anyone) question the veracity of poll results from Utah respondents, but not from those of other states? Seems a bit bigoted. Those other respondents would've had the same motivations and incentives to lie as Utahans. As such, any degree of fudging would be relatively uniform across the board with the list order staying the same.

If you had finished reading the article, you would've noticed the results of this poll were independently confirmed and collaborated by the Institute of Philanthropy using government documents from the IRS and other legal forms. As such, any reasonable person would consider the poll results legitimate and acceptable. Unreasonable people on the other hand...

Seems rather sad that just because Utah is known as a conservative state, that known liberals would question any findings that show it in a positive light. Very sad indeed.

lehi, ut


I really liked your perspective, but after spending more time than I would like to admit, I don't think that your hypothesis fits the data. Doing a quick search about average income per household by state, and comparing the data to this poll doesn't seem to hold any weight. According to this poll, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Alabama were among the least giving states, they are also among the ten lowest incomes per household. On the other hand most of the northeast are in the middle of the pack when it comes to giving (with the exception of New York) and they have the highest income per household.

Even Utah has the 14 highest per household income (New York is 16th) and according to this poll we had the highest percent of people that gave charity.

Anyways it would seem that there isn't a direct correlation between the percent of people that give to charity and the wealth of the state (based solely on this poll and income data)

Virginia Beach, VA


“Why would you (or anyone) question the veracity of poll results from Utah respondents, but not from those of other states?”

Why? Well the subject of the article is "Utah Ranks First." And what does it rank first in? It ranks first in CLAIMS of generosity. Sure, other survey respondents may have lied about the money and hours they contribute, but Utah is number ONE in self-reported contribution claims.

. . . Just setting the facts straight.

You're welcome.

NotInMiami, FL

GaryO: "[Utah] ranks first in CLAIMS of generosity." Yes, it does. Read Brio's comment where he/she referred to these not just being self-reported statements ("I claim this...") about charitable giving but also verified by tax documents (i.e., looking at charitable giving claims on tax returns and calculating per capita giving by state - I can't post the links but there are a number of studies showing Utah as consistently having highest per capita giving). There are a lot of households that have zero tax reasons to give charitably (myself included, I don't make enough to take higher than the standard deduction) but individuals and families still give. The most recent data show Utah as having 33.4% of households claiming charitable giving deductions to the IRS (4th highest rate in country) with a per capita giving of $2388, 40% higher than the next highest state - this isn't factoring in income. Further, volunteer hours are highest in Utah and they aren't deducted.

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