Plum-Oakmont Area Ranks Among Top 30 Percent Most Generous ZIP Code Areas
The Chronicle of Philanthropy has released detailed information on philanthropy by state, county, town and ZIP Code after comparing 2008 U.S. tax returns for charitable giving.
The 15239, 15139 and 15147 ZIP Codes rank among the top 30 percent of the country's most generous ZIP Code areas, according to a survey released Monday, even though the Northeast has the lowest giving charitable giving levels in the country.
The 15147 ZIP Code, which includes Verona, Penn Hills and parts of Plum, ranked 7,235.
The 15139 ZIP Code, which is Oakmont's, ranked 8,748.
The study is based on exact dollar amounts released by the Internal Revenue Service that show the value of charitable deductions claimed by American taxpayers in 2008.
The Chronicle’s rankings show the percentage of their income that households donated from the money they had left after paying their taxes and covering housing, food, and other essential expenses.
The 15239 ZIP Code residents had a median discretionary income of $53,883 and gave 3.2 percent of that income, or a median of $1,705, to charitable causes—a total of $6.2 million for the area.
The 15139 ZIP Code residents had a median discretionary income of $61,492 and gave 3.7 percent of that income, or a median of $2,303, to charitable causes—a total of $3.3 million for the area.
Those in the 15147 ZIP Code, while having a bit less income, were a little more charitable. With a median discretionary income of $44,207, the residents gave 5.5 percent of that income, a median contribution of $2,426, to charity—a total of $4.7 million.
The percentage of discretionary income given to charity was 4.5 percent nationally, 3.9 percent for Pennsylvanians, 3.6 percent for the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, 4.5 percent for Allegheny County and 4.1 percent for Washington County.
Among the study's major findings:
- Rich people who live in wealthy, relatively homogeneous enclaves give a smaller share of their incomes to charity than rich people who live in diverse communities.
- Lower-income people give a far bigger share of their discretionary income to charities than wealthy people. People who make between $50,000 and $75,000 give an average of 7.6 percent of their discretionary income to charity, compared with an average of 4.2 percent for people who make $100,000 or more.
- People who live in red states are more generous than those who live in blue states. The top eight most-generous states in regions of the country that are deeply religious are more generous than those that are not. Two of the top 10 states—Utah and Idaho—have high numbers of Mormon residents, who tithe more consistently than other churchgoers. The remaining states in the top 10 are all in the Bible Belt.
- Many cities and states in the Northeast, the least-religious region of the country are on the bottom level for giving.
- However, if one were to exclude religious giving from the survey, some states in the Northeast would jump into the top 10, including Pennsylvania.
- State policies, such as tax credits, that promote giving can make a significant difference, and in some cases are influencing the rankings.
Local groups have felt the effects of the economy, which has made giving more important than ever.
"During time of large-scale disaster, we are fortunately that our local community steps up to help us meet our financial goals and needs," said Lauren Chapman, regional communications officer for the American Red Cross. "In quieter times, however, donations slow a bit since the Red Cross is not in the spotlight. While this never prevents us from fulfilling our mission out in the community on a daily basis, we are very much appreciative of the support we receive."
While the survey doesn't show incomes under $50,000, the generosity doesn't necessarily stop because of lower income. Sue Kerr, who heads the Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project, sees that happen with her nonprofit drive to collect tote bags for food bank customers to carry their groceries.
"I've received more than one message from a donor currently using a food pantry for their family, thanking us for the opportunity to help by donating a bag—folks who don't have disposable income or food to donate find creative ways to give back."
The efforts of small businesses also aren't accounted for in the survey.