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Idahoans' generosity almost unmatched

| December 15, 2020 1:00 AM

This silver lining on 2020’s cloud should really make us feel good about who we are: Idaho is the second-most generous state in the nation, according to a recent study.

Considering Idaho’s per capita income is also among the lowest — ranking 43 out of 50 in 2019, according to University of Idaho-reported indicators — sharing what we have is a bit more sacrificial. So if you feel discouraged when we bicker about ideologies, politics, masks and other stuff, this study strongly suggests that deep down Idahoans care about one another, regardless of all that.

Career website Zippia ranked each state in three categories: Percent of income donated to charity (using data from the Chronicle of Philanthropy), percent of residents who volunteer, and average annual volunteer hours (both from the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency). Results were published in November at

Topped by Utah (ranking 34 in per capita income), the top 10 in order are Idaho, Kansas, Alaska, Oregon, Nebraska, Minnesota, Washington, Wyoming and Oklahoma — showing a distinctly northwest (or nearly northwest) theme.

Maybe big skies engender big hearts.

According to the report, Idahoans on average donate 6.4 percent of their income to charities. Thirty-five percent of Idahoans volunteer regularly, averaging 57 hours in a year.

For comparison, Utah residents’ volunteer rate is 46 percent (with 82 hours) and their donation rate is 10.6 percent.

At the bottom end at 50th, Nevada’s donation rate is 3.9 percent and its volunteer rate is 17 percent of residents (with an average 24 volunteer hours per annum).

While other studies and sites rank charitable giving (with Idaho ranking as low as 25 of 50), not all consider percentage of income or relative earnings compared with other states. California’s or New York’s average salaries, for example, can’t be fairly compared to what folks doing the same job in Idaho earn on average.

Rich or poor, there’s certainly a benefit to the giver in giving.

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.” — Charles Dickens

Sholeh Patrick is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network. Contact her at