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Where do the most charitable Americans live?

As the year ends, many people make their annual contributions to their favorite charities. The average American donates $298 in cash each year to charities, according to Esri, world’s leader in geographic information systems (GIS). Types of charities include animal welfare, disease cures and post-disaster assistance. Educational charities receive $100, on average, from Americans who donate. Religious charities benefit the most, receiving $915 annually, on average. What types of Americans are most likely to contribute to each charity type? Who are these Americans, and where do they live?

Charitable cash contributions

Charitable contributions are received from all over the country and from all types of Americans. Esri provides Consumer Spending data that details, by geography, the likely average amount spent on a product or service per adult or household. As noted above, Esri estimates that an average American gives $298 per year in cash to a charity.

The people that give the most live along the Eastern Seaboard and in and around large cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Denver. The people that give the least live in rural areas in the South.

ZIP codes with residents who contribute the most cash to charities are 10514 (Chappaqua, N.Y.), 60043 (Kenilworth, Ill.), 22066 (Great Falls, Va.) and 94027 (Atherton, Calif.). Residents in these ZIP codes donate, on average, at least $1,500 annually in cash to their favorite charities.

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What type of person is most likely to contribute to charities? Esri has developed the Tapestry Segmentation system that classifies U.S. residential neighborhoods into 65 unique market segments based on socioeconomic and demographic characteristics.

Tapestry segments with residents that contribute the most, on average are Top Rung, Connoisseurs and Suburban Splendor. On average, residents in neighborhoods dominated by these Tapestry segments donate at least $600 in cash per year.

Residents of these Tapestry neighborhoods are all very wealthy. They have both high incomes and high net worth. Top Rung is Tapestry’s wealthiest consumer segment. It represents less than one percent of all U.S. households. In their peak earning years, these highly-educated residents are married couples with and without children. Residents of Connoisseurs neighborhoods are well-educated and somewhat older. Although they’re moving toward to retirement, many of these married couples have children who still live at home. Their neighborhoods tend to be older, affluent, established, and slow-growing. Suburban Splendor neighborhoods mostly include two‐income, married‐couple families with or without children. They are well educated and have good jobs.

Tapestry segments with residents that donate the least are City Commons, Rural Bypasses, Modest Income Homes, High Rise Renters, Southwestern Families and Dorms to Diplomas. Residents in these neighborhoods donate, on average, $150 per year or less to their favorite charities.

Low income is the commonality among these segments. Differences occur in age, race/ethnicity, and location. Residents of City Commons and High Rise Renters neighborhoods rent apartments in large, multi-unit buildings in urban areas. They are young singles or single parents, and very often under-employed. Rural Bypasses neighborhoods are found in the rural South. Residents of these neighborhoods are young singles or married couples. Southwestern Families are ethnically diverse and are the bedrock of Hispanic culture in the Southwest. Most residents of Dorms to Diplomas neighborhoods are college students with limited incomes.

Donations to educational institutions

Americans love donating to their alma mater. Many associate their professional success to their college years, or even their adolescence. On average, Americans contribute$100 to educational institutions each year.

Similar to those who donate in charities areas where people donate the most to educational institutions are also along the Eastern Seaboard and in and around large cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Denver. People who give the least live in rural areas of the South and in many areas of the Midwest.

ZIP codes with some people who contribute the most to educational institutions are 10514 (Chappaqua, N.Y.), 07078 (Short Hills, N.J.), 94028 (Portola Valley, Calif.) and 20854 (Potomac, Md.). Residents in these ZIP codes contribute, on average, $540 a year to educational institutions.

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Residents of neighborhoods with dominant Tapestry segments who contribute the most cash to educational charities are Top Rung, Connoisseurs, Urban Chic, Pacific Heights and Wealthy Seaboard Suburbs. Residents in these neighborhoods contribute, on average, at least twice that of the average American. Residents of Top Rung and Connoisseurs neighborhoods contribute at least three times more than the average American.

Residents in these neighborhoods have high incomes. Urban Chic neighborhoods have well educated married couples and single professionals who live in expensive single-family houses. They travel extensively, visit museums, attend dance performances, play golf and go hiking. Pacific Heights residents live in single-family homes or townhouses in the high-rent districts of California and Hawaii. Wealthy Seaboard Suburbs are older, established, affluent neighborhoods located primarily along the East and West Coasts. Married couples live in these stable, slow-changing areas.

Neighborhoods dominated by the Rural Bypasses and City Commons Tapestry segments donate the least to educational institutions. Residents of these neighborhoods have very low incomes. Rural Bypasses neighborhoods are in small Southern towns along back country roads near open space, undeveloped land and farms. Unemployment is high; however, those who are working have jobs in the agriculture, mining, manufacturing and construction industries at a higher than average rate. City Commons neighborhoods are primarily in cities of large Southern and Midwestern metropolitan areas. Residents of these neighborhoods are young, single or single parents, and most likely, unemployed or work part-time.

Donations to religious charities

Donating to religious charities is one of the most popular for people to donate their money. The average American donates $915 annually to religious charities. Many Americans feel it is important to donate significant funds to their religious institutions. This confirms the importance of religion in many American’s lives.

People living along the Eastern Seaboard, in the Midwest, and along the coast of California contribute the most to religious charities. Residents in ZIP codes 60043 (Kenilworth, Ill.), 20854 (Potomoc, Md.), 06897 (Wilton, Conn.) and 94022 (Los Altos, Calif.) have residents who donate some of the highest amounts to religious charities. Residents of these ZIP codes contribute, on average, $2,350 or more per year to religious charities. Lowest contributions are in the South and Southwest.

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Residents of neighborhoods dominated by Tapestry segments Top Rung, Connoisseurs and Suburban Splendor contribute the most. These residents contribute $1,375 or more annually to religious charities.

Residents of High Rise Renters and City Commons neighborhoods donate the least to religious charities. On average, they donate about $450 or less annually to religious charities. Residents of these neighborhoods have low incomes. High Rise Renters are in densely populated urban communities almost entirely in the Northeast. Most residents are either single or single parents.

Why does this matter?

Charities are big business in the U.S. They rely on generous Americans to donate so they can continue to function, grow, and make a difference. Understanding the types of people who would be most likely to donate and where they live is critical for many charities to raise money and survive. People in different parts of the country donate to different types of charities — and at different contribution amounts. Not surprisingly, the wealthy can and do contribute more — but people of all income levels do donate. Where people live can influence how much and the types of charities that receive their contributions.

More information about Esri’s data can be found at or to learn more about Esri in general, go to

Pam Allison is a digital media, marketing strategist and location intelligence consultant. You can visit her blog at