Jun 30

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Most Generous Cities in America 2014

A few days ago Blackbaud released a report analyzing the “most generous online cities.”  As this analysis only includes contributions through their system, it is likely that major gifts are not included as those most likely utilize checks rather than online credit card donations.  While this could limit some analysis, it also will focus analysis on your typical donor and not major donors.  For their analysis, Blackbaud focused on the average per capita contribution identifying what they called the most generous areas.

Here at Evaluating Effectiveness, we wanted to go a step farther.  Matching the cities on Blackbaud’s spreadsheet to the five year American Community Study conducted by the US Census Bureau, we wanted to incorporate the median income for each city and control for income disparities.  While some cities are on both lists, when controlling for income shifts also occur.


Average Donation Per Capita Percent of Median Income Donated
Rank City 2013 Average Rank City 2013 Percent
1 Seattle, WA $53.54 1 Atlanta, GA 0.089%
2 Alexandria, VA $47.19 2 Cincinnati, OH 0.088%
3 Atlanta, GA $40.86 3 Seattle, WA 0.084%
4 Washington, DC $38.17 4 St. Louis, MO 0.077%
5 Cambridge, MA $36.11 5 Ann Arbor, MI 0.067%
6 Ann Arbor, MI $35.97 6 Miami, FL 0.066%
7 Arlington, VA $33.67 7 Washington, DC 0.059%
8 Cincinnati, OH $29.68 8 Alexandria, VA 0.056%
9 Bellevue, WA $28.88 9 Minneapolis, MN 0.055%
10 San Francisco, CA $27.41 10 Pittsburgh, PA 0.054%


When looking at the rank of all the cities, there is a correlation of .92 signaling that the order between the two lists is quite similar, however when looking at the raw donations per 1000 compared to the median income there is a correlation of just .28.  While the ranks are highly correlated, looking at the true values that relationship is nearly non-existent.  There is a significant clustering of low income cities that give less than $10,000 per 1000 people but there are many outliers.

Not surprisingly, there is also a highly significant positive relationship between the amount per capita donated and the median income in the area.  However, while income increases correlates to increases in amounts donated it does not correlate with a larger percentage of income donated.  What much of this data shows is the importance the median income plays in the amount donated, something any development professional is well aware of.

Explore this data visually.  We have produced two interactive charts.  The first is a map followed by a scatter plot.  On the map, the size of the circles represents the average amount donated per 1000 people.  The color is based on the percent of the median income donated with the highest rates being the darkest.  You can download our expanded Blackbaud data file here.

Feel free to download our expanded version of the Blackbaud Excel spreadsheet here.

Permanent link to this article: http://evaluatingeffectiveness.com/most-generous-cities-in-america-2014/