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Financial Planning > Charitable Giving > Charitable Giving Deductions

How 30 Metro Areas Differ in Their Charitable Giving

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When donors decide which causes and organizations to support, their priorities vary widely by the communities where they live, according to Fidelity Charitable, a donor-advised fund sponsor.

The new Geography of Giving study looks at Fidelity Charitable donors in the top 30 metropolitan areas in the U.S., and focuses on eight charitable sectors: arts and culture, education, environment and animals, health, human services, international affairs, religion and society benefit.

For each sector, the analysis ranks the top 10 cities by prevalence of support for charities in these sectors.

According to Fidelity Charitable, the new analysis supplements its fifth annual Giving Report, which demonstrated giving priorities that spanned across geographic regions in the U.S. The analysis shows that metropolitan areas also maintain unique giving identities.

Fidelity Charitable ranked the top 30 metro areas — all of which have 400 or more giving accounts — by the percentage of local giving accounts that recommended grants to nonprofit groups in the eight charitable sectors.

“Fidelity Charitable donors are connected by more than generosity and a commitment to making the world a better place,” Fidelity Charitable’s president, Pamela Norley, said in a statement. “They are also connected by the place they call home.”

While national trends paint a broad picture of Americans’ giving habits, local data provide a more nuanced story, according to Fidelity Charitable.

The study found that support for education had particular strength in cities in the Northeast; religious organizations ranked number one in cities in the South and Midwest; and cities in the West supported environmental charities at much higher rates.

Following are the eight giving sectors and the top 10 cities in each one for support by Fidelity Charitable giving account holders in 2016 (including year-over-year movement in ranking):



Education is the most popular charitable sector for Fidelity Charitable donors nationwide, with 54% of giving accounts supporting groups, such as schools and universities, libraries, and literacy and after-school programs. In contrast, the largest amount of national donor giving support goes to religion.

1. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk

2. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy

3. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont (+1)

4. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island (-1)

5. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria

6. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara (+3)

7. Naples-Marco Island (-1)

8. Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor (new)

9. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington (-2)

10. St. Louis (-2)

Human Services

Human Services

Nonprofits that provide basic, daily care — including food banks, homeless shelters and youth programs — are popular recipients of donor generosity; for many people who give, these services define what it means to be charitable in the U.S. Fifty-three percent of giving accounts nationally support human-services charities.

1. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk (+4)

2. Naples-Marco Island (-1)

3. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy

4. Chicago-Naperville-Joliet

5. Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor (new)

6. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont

7. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara (+3)

8. Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton (new)

9. Denver-Aurora (-2)

10.New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island (-1)



Although religion ranks behind education in giving account support, it is consistently among the top recipients of support from both donors overall and Fidelity Charitable donors specifically, according to the report. Fifty-three percent of account holders, mainly in the South and the Midwest, support religion. According to the report, many donors use their giving account to establish recurring grant recommendations to religious organizations with which they are affiliated, to provide a tithe or other forms of ongoing support.

1. Indianapolis-Carmel (+2)

2. Salt Lake City (-1)

3. Detroit-Warren-Livonia (+1)

4. St. Louis (+3)

5. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown (+1)

6. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington (+3)

7. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington (-2)

8. Cincinnati-Middletown

9. Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord (-7)

10. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta



In 2016, 41% of Fidelity Charitable donors nationwide supported the health sector. Boston remained firmly atop the list for charitable support, with 58% of giving accounts in the region supporting health-related nonprofits. The report, citing the Giving USA 2017 study, noted that with the field increasing its focus on collaboration across public and private groups to advance medical research and treatment for disease, the Boston area has both the professional and infrastructural depth to respond to these such trends.

1. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy

2. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk

3. Naples-Marco Island

4. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach

5. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island

6. Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor (+4)

7. Detroit-Warren-Livonia

8. Chicago-Naperville-Joliet (new)

9. St. Louis (-3)

10. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont

Society Benefit

Society Benefit

Thirty-six percent of Fidelity Charitable giving accounts send support to society benefit charities, including civil rights, community improvement, social advocacy and volunteer organizations.

1. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach

2. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island (+1)

3. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk (-1)

4. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy (+1)

5. Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor (-1)

6. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont (new)

7. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria (-1)

8. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara (-1)

9. St. Louis (-1)

10. Chicago-Naperville-Joliet (new)

Arts and Culture

Arts and Culture

Thirty percent of Fidelity Charitable giving accounts recommend grants to arts and culture charities, including museums, arts organizations and public broadcasting services.

1. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont

2. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy

3. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk (+2)

4. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue (+3)

5. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria (-2)

6. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island (-2)

7. Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton (new)

8. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara

9. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach


Environment and Animals

Environment and Animals

Groups supporting the environment and animals were the fastest-growing charitable cause nationwide in 2016, according to the Giving USA 2017 report. The number of giving accounts that supported these nonprofits also grew more than any other sector during the same period, increasing by 18%. Twenty-three percent of Fidelity Charitable donors recommended grants to these causes, with land and water conservation claiming more of the giving terrain than any other subsector.

Environmental groups received significant increases in support following the 2016 election, which likely contributed to their overall growth, according to Fidelity Charitable.

1. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont

2. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy

3. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk (+1)

4. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara (-1)

5. Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton (+3)

6. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue (new)

7. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria (+2)

8. St. Louis (-3)

9. Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor (-3)

10. Baltimore-Towson (new)

International Affairs

International Affairs

Although slightly more than a quarter of giving accounts nationwide currently support international affairs organizations, it remains a fast-growing sector of charitable giving among Fidelity Charitable donors, fueled in 2016 by humanitarian needs in the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis.

1. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island (+3)

2. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria (-1)

3. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont

4. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara (-2)

5. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington (+1)

6. Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton (+4)

7. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk (+3)

8. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue (-3)

9. Chicago-Naperville-Joliet (-1)

10. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana

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