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New England's Short, But Busy, Giving Season

Ryan Caron King
Sara Capen Salomons of Journey Home opens a donation that was mailed to her office. She says 90 percent of their donations came from individual donors last year.

Over the last week or so, your inbox and mailbox has been filling with requests for donations from non-profit organizations. Oxfam International, Doctors Without Borders, your local food bank, and homeless shelter all depend on year-end generosity to meet their budgets.

This is the Giving Season. We give the most this time of year in part because we’re coming up on the holidays, when many religious faiths encourage charity – though for Muslims, the giving season centers around Ramadan, in the fall.

A 2012 Chronicle of Philanthropy study says that deeply religious states such as Utah and Mississippi give an average of 7 percent of their household incomes to charity. In other words — not to bring up horrors of elections gone by — traditionally red states are more generous than blue ones. 

New Englanders? We aren’t that religious. A Pew Research Study from 2014 said just 45 percent of people who live in the Northeast consider religion “very important.” We scored behind all other parts of the country, including religious leader in the South, where 62 percent of people surveyed said religion was “very important.” We give an average of less than three percent of our household incomes to charity, compared to the national average of 4.7 percent.

To read more from Susan Campbell on New England's giving trends and the history of holiday donations, visit the New England News Collaborative's website

Susan Campbell is a long-time journalist whose work has appeared in The Hartford Courant, Connecticut Magazine, CT Health Investigative Team, The New Haven Register, The Guardian, and other publications.

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