NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Generosity in Canada and the United States: The 2011 Generosity Index

December 29, 2011

In comparing charitable giving among and between Canadian and American jurisdictions, researchers at the Fraser Institute, a free market think tank in Canada, found that trends over the past decade continue to hold strong.  Among the trends, all Canadian provinces and territories have continued to be drastically outstripped by American states in charitable giving by a large margin.  In both of the standard measures of giving (percentage of tax filers who report having given) and the total share of aggregate income that was donated, Americans out-give Canadians.

  • More than 26 percent of American tax filers donated to charity in 2009 (the most recent year for which data is available), compared to 23 percent of Canadians.
  • On a countrywide basis, Americans gave 1.32 percent of their aggregate personal income to charity, more than double the 0.64 percent that Canadians donated.
  • Had Canadians matched the generosity of their American neighbors by donating the same percentage of total income, Canadian charities would have received an extra $8.3 billion in private donations in 2009.

These national differences are large enough that broad comparisons can be made regarding the giving behavior of Americans and Canadians; specifically, Americans are on the whole more generous than their northern neighbors.  However, this should now shroud the substantial variability between jurisdictions within each country.

  • Among Canadian provinces, Manitoba had both the highest percentage of tax filers donating to registered charity (26.0 percent) and the highest percentage of total income donated (0.89 percent); meanwhile, Quebec again ranked lowest in both measures.
  • Similarly in the United States, Utah was by far the most generous jurisdiction with 33.4 percent of tax filers donating 3.09 percent of the total income earned in the state.
  • The figures for Utah far exceed even the second-place state, Maryland, in which only 1.67 percent of total income was donated.

Source: Charles Lammam, "Generosity in Canada and the United States: The 2011 Generosity Index," Fraser Institute, December 15, 2011.

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