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Clawson Ranks High in Charitable Giving

Clawson residents are among the top givers across the country, according to national study by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Whether it's money to local synagogues or churches, food banks or animal shelters, metro Detroit residents are givers.

Those are among the findings of a six-month project by The Chronicle of Philanthropy researching "giving habits" of Americans. The research breaks down giving by zip code and is based on a year’s worth of IRS 1040 forms from households nationwide.

Researchers did a deep dive into various avenues of giving, including whether it was for religious or secular organizations and how much of one's household income was devoted to charity. For an apples-to-apples comparison, the data collected was on the percentage of post-tax income that was donated.

In Clawson, for instance, residents gave about $3.4 million in 2008, ranking 8,731- or in the top 30 percent- among the 28,725 zip codes listed.

"Clawson residents probably are some of the biggest hearted people around," said Jim Horton, a longtime Clawson Goodfellow, which is a charitable organization comprised of volunteer Clawson firefighters. "It always seems that whenever something happens, the town seems to rally around the cause."

The Goodfellows have donated toys to needy children for the past 90 years. Over the years, the organization started collecting food and winter coats to families as well. 

Horton said the community donates thousands of dollars every year to support the Goodfellows. The organization collected about $10,000 in last year's paper sale alone.

Giving as a region

Metro Detroit fell in the top four percent nationally, ranking 14th overall among the 366 metro areas, giving about $1.8 billion in 2008.

And at 22nd, Michigan overall was about in the middle of the pack when it comes to charitable giving, donating about 4.5 percent of income.

Across the country, Utah, Washington D.C.,  and Mississippi gave the most - 10.2 percent to 7.2 percent, respectively. The bottom three states were Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire, ranging from 2.8 percent to 2.5 percent, respectively.

Among other findings:

  • Because of the current economy, charities are more strapped for cash than ever, which is fueling more charitable giving among neighbors.
  • Those who live in more conservative, or "red states",  are more generous than those in more liberal, or "blue states".
  • Middle income people give more than the wealthy, especially if the wealthy live among the wealthy.

Paul Piff, a social psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, told NPR that during his years of research he also has found that higher income people in diverse economic areas give more than those who live in wealthy areas.

"The more wealth you have, the more focused on your own self and your own needs you become, and the less attuned to the needs of other people you also become," he told NPR's Pam Fessler.

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