Well-Being Varies by US State and Charitable Giving

This May, Gallup released poll results from 2013 of people’s charitable activity within the last month: financial donations, time volunteered, and both activities combined. Approximately 600 people were interviewed over the phone, and the data was grouped by state. Have a look at the Gallup report to see the results from your area and how it compares to people in other states.

Source: Flickr user, Don DeBold

Source: Flickr user, Don DeBold

The results reveal that in New York, Rhode Island, and some other areas, people are more likely to give their money than to dedicate their time. Some states, like Utah, Minnesota, and Hawaii, had more people who both made donations and volunteered. Nevada, Kentucky, and Louisiana, among others, had the lowest percentages of respondents report charitable giving and volunteering — below 30%.

Overall, this study shows that Americans tend to make charitable donations at pretty good rates: The lowest percentage by state was 57%, and the highest was 71% of respondents. And American giving is generous compared to that of other countries. In a related Gallup study of people in 130 countries that used self-reports of money donated, time volunteered, and providing help to strangers, Gallup created a Civic Engagement Index score, in which the U.S. and Ireland produced the highest score — 60. To give you an idea of the range, last-ranked Croatia scored 11.

These civic-engagement scores seem to correlate directly to people’s well-being. Gallup also did a study of the well-being of Americans in a poll with 178,000 interview respondents. The study asked questions that examined several areas to create a Well-Being Index score, including life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors, and access to basic necessities.

When these two poll results are combined, Gallup concludes that people in states with higher well-being are more likely to give money, time, and assistance to strangers. People with lower well-being scores are in states with the lowest charitable giving. The report observes that, “Although it is possible that giving to others helps foster higher well-being in the individuals taking part in those kinds of activities, it is also possible that citizens with higher well-being are more likely to become active in their communities.”

The bottom line is, if you don’t live in South Dakota, Minnesota, or another state where well-being and charitable giving are high, you might consider moving there. Regardless, you can simply start right where you are. Give more charitable donations and spend more time volunteering to reap the benefits of greater well-being.

Note: This article was originally published, with a different title, on The Motley Fool site.

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