Whether it's money for local churches, food banks or animal shelters, Birmingham residents are big givers.
Those are among the findings of a six-month project released Monday by The Chronicle of Philanthropy researching "giving habits" of Americans.
Researchers did a deep dive into various avenues of giving, including whether it was for religious or secular organizations and how much of one's household income was devoted to charity.
In Birmingham, residents gave $44 million in 2008, ranking 295th out of more than 28,000 zip codes across the country included in the study. That puts Birmingham in the top 1 percent of America's giving cities.
Of those contributions, the median contribution was $4,601. According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Birmingham's median discretionary income in 2008 was $104,319, meaning residents gave an average of 4.4 percent of their income.
Who's donating in Birmingham? According to the data:
- The greatest percentage of givers — 30.1 percent — were between 45-64 years old. The next biggest age group of givers (25.9 percent) was those under 20 years old.
- Givers were more likely to have at least a bachelor's degree: 37.7 percent of Birmingham's givers had a four-year degree, followed by 29.5 percent of which had some kind of post-graduate degree.
- In Birmingham, those in the lower income brackets actually gave more as a percentage of their total income. Givers making between $50,000-$99,000 a year gave 8.6 percent of their income in 2008. Meanwhile, among those making between $100,000-$199,000 as well as $200,000 and up, givers only gave 4.4 percent of their income.
Metro Detroit ranks in top 4 percent nationwide
Metro Detroit fell in the top four percent nationally, ranking 14th overall among the 366 metro areas, giving about $1.8 billion in 2008.
And at 22nd, Michigan overall was about in the middle of the pack when it comes to charitable giving, donating about 4.5 percent of income.
Across the country, Utah, Washington D.C., and Mississippi gave the most — 10.2 percent to 7.2 percent, respectively. The bottom three states were Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire, ranging from 2.8 percent to 2.5 percent, respectively.
Among other findings:
- Because of the current economy, charities are more strapped for cash than ever, which is fueling more charitable giving among neighbors.
- Those who live in more conservative, or "red states", are more generous than those in more liberal, or "blue states".
- Middle income people give more than the wealthy, especially if the wealthy live among the wealthy.
Paul Piff, a social psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, told NPR that during his years of research he also has found that higher income people in diverse economic areas give more than those who live in wealthy areas.
"The more wealth you have, the more focused on your own self and your own needs you become, and the less attuned to the needs of other people you also become," he told NPR's Pam Fessler.