MLive reported that in a recent Chronicle of Philanthropy study, How America Gives, Ottawa County’s median contribution was $3,495, making it the most generous county in Michigan.

“The Chronicle of Philanthropy study – which is based on Internal Revenue Service data from taxpayers with incomes of $50,000 or more who itemized deductions on their 2008 returns – found that the median amount of charitable giving for Americans was $2,564 per year, or 4.7 percent of discretionary income. Statewide, Michigan residents actually were a bit more stingy, giving just 4.5 percent.”

“While noting that individual charity “is a notoriously difficult thing to measure,” a scholar at Grand Valley State University’s Johnson Center for Philanthropy said involvement in religious groups contributes to the rate of giving in Kent and Ottawa counties. Likewise, relatively high rates of giving in Utah, a center for the Mormon faith, and in some parts of the country’s south are impacted by religion, said Michael Moody, the center’s Frey Chair for Family Philanthropy.

“We know that religious attendance and religious participation, what we may call ‘religiosity,’ that’s going to significantly affect the amount that they give,” he said. “They are simply asked to give more and we know that one of the major reasons people give is because they’re asked to give.

“Certainly giving in Kent County and Ottawa County is partly driven by the religiosity of the communities.”

Moody said a “very significant family business tradition” in the Grand Rapids area also factors into the region’s generosity.”

Read the article.

Established in 1992 with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy promotes effective philanthropy, community improvement, and excellence in nonprofit leadership through teaching, research, and service. The Johnson Center is recognized for its applied research and professional development benefiting practitioners and nonprofits through its Community Research Institute, Frey Foundation Chair for Family Foundations and Philanthropy, The Foundation Review, The Grantmaking School, Johnson Center Philanthropy Archives and Library, and Nonprofit Services.

Grand Valley State University is a four-year public university. It attracts more than 24,500 students with high quality programs and state-of-the-art facilities. Grand Valley is a comprehensive university serving students from all 83 Michigan counties and dozens of other states and foreign countries. Grand Valley offers 81 undergraduate and 29 graduate degree programs from campuses in Allendale, Grand Rapids and Holland, and from regional centers in Muskegon and Traverse City. The university is dedicated to individual student achievement, going beyond the traditional classroom experience, with research opportunities and business partnerships. Grand Valley employs more than 1,900 people and is committed to providing a fair and equitable environment for the continued success of all.

The Johnson Center receives ongoing support from the Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation, Dyer-Ives Foundation, Frey Foundation, Grand Rapids Community Foundation, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

For more information, contact Robert Shalett, communications director for the Johnson Center, at 616-331-7585.

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