Most Charitable States for 2023 & Best Charities for 2023

With Americans having donated nearly $485 billion in 2021, up 4% from the previous year, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on the Most Charitable States for 2023, along with accompanying videos and expert commentary. It also released its picks for the Best Charities for 2023 and a Charity Calculator to help donors decide where and how to give.

To determine where the most generous Americans are inspiring others to be more selfless, WalletHub compared the 50 states based on 19 key indicators of charitable behavior. The data set ranges from the volunteer rate to the share of income donated to the share of sheltered homeless.

Most Charitable States
1. Utah11. Maine
2. Maryland12. Alaska
3. Minnesota13. Colorado
4. North Dakota14. New Hampshire
5. Oregon15. Washington
6. Wyoming16. Texas
7. Pennsylvania17. North Carolina
8. Delaware18. Arkansas
9. Ohio19. New York
10. Virginia20. Massachusetts

Key Stats

  • The charities with the highest ratings from WalletHub include the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International, Animal Welfare Institute and World Resources Institute.
  • Vermont has the most charities per capita, 55.07, which is 2.6 times more than in Utah, the state with the fewest at 21.09.
  • Utah has the highest volunteer rate, 51.00 percent, which is 2.2 times higher than in Florida, the state with the lowest at 22.80 percent.
  • Utah has the most volunteer hours per capita, 57.59, which is 3.3 times more than in Mississippi, the state with the fewest at 17.27. 

What are the biggest challenges facing US-based charities in the current economic environment?
“The covid pandemic has been posing a series of severe challenges for U.S. charities, including but not limited to increased demand for (health and human) services, revenue loss from multiple sources, staff and volunteer unavailability due to labor shortages, and unstable financial conditions. The current economic environment is making things even worse. It is important to note that although every charity is being affected, some charities, especially small, grassroots ones, are hit harder than others.”
Jiahuan Lu, Ph.D. – Associate Professor & MPA Program Director, Rutgers University, Newark
“Some evidence suggests that donors/donations are pretty resilient to inflation and we’ve seen lots of positive, charitable responses to the needs raised by the pandemic. That said, donations are somewhat sensitive to the strength of the stock market. General economic confidence is an important factor that US-based charities should consider in predicting donations. Another important consideration for US-based charities is to realize that while donations have remained high, the average donor profile continues to shift away from the middle class. Fewer, larger gifts from more wealthy donors have become the norm. Charities that have typically relied on more, smaller gifts from less-wealthy donors will need to account for this trend, which seems to have some permanence.”
Robert K. Christensen, Ph.D. – Professor and Research Fellow, Brigham Young University
What advice do you have for choosing the right charity?
“The right charity is the charity that resonates with a donor’s values, stewards their money well, and demonstrates impact or the ability to impact the world through its mission. Of course, you want to be a wise steward of your funds, so check the organization’s financial outlook through annual or financial reports that transparent organizations will have access to on their websites or you can find financial documents for many charities on Candid, formerly GuideStar. I encourage folks to look across three to five years for a stronger understanding of your charity’s financial health than just a one-year snapshot. Also, some watchdog charities such as the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance or Charity Navigator rate organizations and can offer additional information about an organization’s adherence to best practices regarding board governance or financial reporting, but donors should also know these ratings do not tell much, if any, of the story about an organization’s impact.”
Margaret F. Sloan, Ph.D. – Director, Professor and Advisor, Nonprofit and Community Leadership Concentration, James Madison University
“Do your homework. All of us can suffer from optimism bias, especially when we see high-production value websites and brochures that sing the praises of a charity. But pay close attention to how charities use their money as well as the data they provide on their program outcomes. Websites like GuideStar or Charity Navigator can be helpful, but so can simply looking at a charity’s publicly available tax documents.”
Curtis Child – Department Chair and Associate Professor, Sociology Department, Brigham Young University
What percentage of income should households donate to charity?
“In short, greater than zero. The benefits of including charitable donations in one’s budget are fairly well documented. Beyond the financial benefits of reducing tax burdens, charitable giving promotes deeper feelings of personal satisfaction, higher morale, and lower stress. Identifying the specific proportion of one’s budget that should be dedicated to charitable donation should, like other budget decisions, be systematically reviewed. As particular needs arise, e.g., the pandemic, or as a household’s financial capacity increases, having an up-to-date giving plan is key. Including other members of the household and, when helpful, a financial planner, is a smart approach. Much like planning and budgeting for a vacation, planning and budgeting for giving can be a very rewarding process in and of itself.”
Robert K. Christensen, Ph.D. – Professor and Research Fellow, Brigham Young University
“There is no magic number here, and certainly, no answer that applies to everyone. The question is both a financial and a moral one. It is a bit of a cliche, but I believe there is some wisdom in giving until it hurts just a little.”
Curtis Child – Department Chair and Associate Professor, Sociology Department, Brigham Young University

About Kevin

Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-UPI, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Trustee RD 2137, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction
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