How charitable is Austin compared to other cities in the U.S.?
In 2015, overall charitable giving in the United States increased 1.6% on a year-over-year basis. Additionally, online giving grew 9.2% in 2015 as compared to 2014 (Blackbaud “2015 Charitable Giving Report”). How does Austin’s giving trends compare to those nationally?
Currently, the giving ratio in the Greater Austin area is 2.71%. This means that the average person living in our community donates 2.71% of their annual income to charity. In comparison, Dallas’s giving ratio is 3.77%, Houston’s is 3.48% and San Antonio’s is 3.29%–making Austin the “least charitable” out of the largest four cities in Texas.
According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s 2012 analysis, Austin ranked 36th out of the largest 50 cities in the U.S. in terms of charitable giving. The amount Austinites give has decreased over time too; from 2006 to 2012, the amount donated to nonprofits dropped by 3.3%.
Of course, these studies don’t account for other ways people often contribute to their communities: through volunteer work, serving on nonprofit boards and committees, donations or in-kind gifts from corporations rather than individuals, etc.
Still, it seems strange that while people around the country as a whole are giving more of their income to nonprofits, Austinites are giving less–especially when you consider that Austin has the most nonprofits per capita than any other major metro area in Texas and the Southwest United States region.
Some say having too many nonprofits is part of the problem. Donors do not know where to put their dollars to actually make the biggest impact when there are so many to choose from. Another reason could be that Austinites have to spend more of their dollars on housing-related costs than residents living in San Antonio or the Dallas suburbs. Perhaps the influx of new people moving to Austin are not yet invested enough in their new city to learn about our nonprofits or feel passionate about one of our causes.
(By the way, some of the top ranked cities for charitable giving include Salt Lake City, Seattle, D.C. and Atlanta.)
United Way for Greater Austin believes everyone can be a philanthropist. Collaboration between other nonprofits, government entities, businesses and individuals is so important to us, it’s even in our mission statement. Part of being a philanthropist is sharing your passion with your circle and advocating for what you care about most. We know Austinites are generous, caring, loving, entrepreneurial, imaginative and fiercely loyal to our city–so let’s all work just a little bit harder and give a bit more for our city and for each other.