Darien gives a smaller percentage of its discretionary income to charity than taxpayers in Stamford, Norwalk, Bridgeport or Greenwich, according to a study just published by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
In terms of percentage of discretionary income given to charity, Darien and Connecticut as a whole rank low, with both at 3.3 percent. Overall in the United States, the rate was 4.7 percent. Fairfield County gave 4.2 percent.
Town residents who earned more than $50,000 in 2008 gave away a total of $73.3 million to charity that year, according to income tax returns by the town's taxpayers, according to a new study.
Half of all town residents who gave to charity donated more than $12,484, but that came out of a median discretionary income for the town of $377,834.
The study analyzed income levels and Internal Revenue Service records to determine what percentage of salaries each state, municipality and even ZIP Code gives to charity.
How Darien comparesCommunity or ZIP Code
CharityDARIEN $378,075 $12,491 3.3 % CONNECTICUT $58,415 $1,916 3.3 % UNITED STATES $54,783 $2,564 4.7 % FAIRFIELD COUNTY $57,400 $2,499 4.2 % New Canaan (06840) $419,961 $24,400 5.8 % Wilton (06897) $225,795 $6,963 2.9 % Stamford $63,840 $2,362 3.7 % Greenwich $442,518 $34,472 7.8 % Norwalk $57,124 $2,019 3.5 % Westport $312,085 $9,276 3.0 % Ridgefield (06877) $172,289 $4,816 2.8 % Fairfield n/a n/a n/a Bridgeport $68,796 $2,466 3.6 % New Haven County, CT $43,650 $1,754 4.0 % Hartford County, CT $45,758 $1,836 4.0 % Litchfield County, CT $43,169 $1,667 3.9 % Westchester County, NY $51,598 $2,796 5.4 % Scarsdale, NY $255,073 $12,053 4.7 % Palm Beach, FL $523,830 $39,919 7.6 %
[Source: Interactive tables on the Chronicle of Philanthropy website (where ZIP Code is listed, that was the search term—the Chronicle website is cranky and doesn't always give results under town names, although it will give results for ZIP Codes that are coterminous with towns, such as New Canaan, Wilton and Ridgefield.]
How the study was done
According to an article on the Chronicle's website, the study examined "comprehensive tax records from the IRS for 2008, the most recent year for which such data are available, to examine income levels and the sums claimed in charitable contributions for taxpayers in each ZIP code."
The Chronicle's study only uses data from taxpayers who earned at least $50,000 in 2008 because of (unexplained) "discrepancies in the data" for people who reported lower incomes than that.
Connecticut ranks low
For Connecticut, the good news is that it's the most generous state in New England when it comes to donating to charity. The bad news is that the state ranks 45th in the nation when it comes to percentage of a salary donated.
Utah topped the list with 10.6 percent of each salary donated, followed by the District of Columbia at 7.7 percent and Mississippi at 7.2 percent.
In terms of total donations, Connecticut ranked 22 with $2.3 billion given.
According to the authors of the study, “Connecticut ranks first among New England states in giving as a percentage of discretionary income, but the state’s 3.3-percent rate is well below the national average.”
New Hampshire donated the least with 2.5 percent. Maine and Vermont fared slightly higher at 2.8 percent.
Peter Panepento, assistant managing editor at the Chronicle of Philanthropy, told NPR that religious donations are the most prevalent.
"States like Utah and Alabama and Mississippi all end up very high on our list," he said. "And states where [there's] more of a secular mindset, particularly in New England and all along the coast, tended to show up lower on the list."
Connecticut residents can at least take solace in their health. The state was recently ranked one of the least obese in the country.