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Report Reveals Stingy States

Massachusetts and Connecticut are among the nation's wealthiest states, but they rank near the bottom in charitable donations, according to a philanthropy publication.

While the Bay State has the nation's third-highest percentage of wealthy people, those who make more than $100,000 per year, it placed 43rd in per capita giving. That discrepancy the largest of any state gave Massachusetts the lowest ranking on the Chronicle of Philanthropy's "Generosity Index.''

Along with Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Rhode Island all rank within the top 20 in terms of wealth and are the least five generous states in the country, according to the report.

The study reached its conclusions through a comparison of average charitable contributions on itemized tax returns.

Some say that unlike the selfish states of the North, poor southern states top the ranks in terms of giving, mainly through religious donations.

For example, Arkansas and Mississippi are two of the poorest states in the country, ranking 48 and 49 respectively in income. Yet they are among the most generous givers, according to the index.

"The most generous people tend to live in states with high numbers of evangelical Christians," George McCully of Boston's Ellis L. Phillips Foundation told The Boston Globe. McCully developed the formula, based on tax returns, that was used to figure the rankings.

Some speculate that that Bay Staters are frugal because they think the government will care for the poor. Others say it's because charitable tools, like telemarketing, don't work on populations with higher education levels.

"No matter what the reasons, it has to change,'' McCully said. "It's embarrassing."

But some, like David Garvey, executive editor for the New England Nonprofit Quarterly magazine, said some factors that weren't included in the ranking process should have been.

"It doesn't count for certain variables, like cost of living or taxes,'' Garvey said. "More research needs to be done. It's a good start.''

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