NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Charitable Giving: America vs. Canada

February 2, 2015

Who's more charitable -- Canadians or Americans? According to a new report from Charles Lammam, Hugh MacIntyre and Feixue Ren of the Fraser Institute, a higher percentage of Americans donate to charity than do Canadians, and at higher levels.

In Canada, 22.3 percent of tax filers donated to a charity in 2012. In America, that figure was 25.9 percent. Moreover, Americans gave more of their incomes to charity than Canadians did, at 1.43 percent compared to the Canadian rate of 0.61 percent.

Looking at absolute dollar figures, Americans gave $198.6 billion (in U.S. dollars) to charity in 2012, compared to $8.6 billion in Canadian dollars. Had Canadians given to charity at the same rate that Americans did, the report says Canadian charities could have seen an additional $11.7 billion. The report also says that American charitable giving is probably understated, because only some American taxpayers itemize their deductions and can thus claim charitable donations (those who don't itemize their deductions may still donate to charity, they just take a standard deduction). In 2012, 31.6 percent of Americans filing taxes itemized their deductions.

Which taxpayers were the most charitable in the United States?

  • Maryland had the highest number of tax filers donating to charity (at 39.4 percent), followed by New Jersey (at 35.9 percent) and Connecticut (35.7 percent).
  • As for the percentage of aggregate income donated to charity, Utah topped the list in the United States, with filers giving 3.22 percent of their income to charity, followed by Georgia (at 1.97 percent).
  • The average charitable donation in the United States was $5,296. Wyoming's average donation was $9,459, the highest in the 50 states.

Source: Charles Lammam, Hugh MacIntyre and Feixue Ren, "Generosity in Canada and the United States: The 2014 Generosity Index," Fraser Institute, December 2014.


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