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Livingston County Ranks High in Charitable Giving

Local residents give generously, according to national study by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Whether it's money or time given to local organizations, charities or churches, Livingston County residents are givers.

In one study, a six-month project by The Chronicle of Philanthropy that researched the "giving habits" of Americans, area residents proved to be generous with the amount of money they chose to donate. The research breaks down giving by zip code and is based on a year’s worth of IRS 1040 forms from households nationwide.

Researchers did a deep dive into various avenues of giving, including whether it was for religious or secular organizations and how much of one's household income was devoted to charity. For an apples-to-apples comparison, the data collected was on the percentage of post-tax income that was donated.

As a whole, Livingston County came in 359th of more than 3,000 areas across the country with a total contribution of $66.8 million.

In the zip codes that encompass Brighton and Hartland Township areas, residents gave a total of $48.9 million.

  • Hartland zip code 48353: $2.6 million
  • Howell zip code 48843: $17.3 million
  • Brighton zip code 48114: $12.1 million 
  • Brighton zip 48116: $16.9 million

Hartland resident and teacher Kay Fountain says that Hartland is a "huge" giving community. Fountain, who has also been intrumental in organizing efforts to bring a to the area says she is grateful for the monetary donations as well as the usuable items– that include pool tables and other sports equipement– that have already come into the center.

"I think the more you get involved in the community, the more positive things you see," she said. "This community is so awesome."

Not only have area residents been donating money and items to the teen center, but their time as well.

On Wednesday, approximately 15 employees from TG Fluid Systems in Brighton volunteered to help paint, clean and fix up the center as part of the United Way's Day of Caring.

Employees from TG Fluid Systems have been participating in the event for over ten years and according to company president Scott Maly, the group has donated over 500 hours of work during that time.

"United Way said there were over 100 teams spread out today working in different areas," employee Briana Groth said. 

According to Groth, in the past the company has volunteered helping out the elderly, the disabled and also a juvenile facility in Howell. 

"We look forward to it," Groth said. "It's a chance to get out and meet people and see what's going on in the community."

Giving as a region

Metro Detroit fell in the top four percent nationally, ranking 14th overall among the 366 metro areas, giving about $1.8 billion in 2008.

And at 22nd, Michigan overall was about in the middle of the pack when it comes to charitable giving, donating about 4.5 percent of income.

Across the country, Utah, Washington D.C.,  and Mississippi gave the most - 10.2 percent to 7.2 percent, respectively. The bottom three states were Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire, ranging from 2.8 percent to 2.5 percent, respectively.

Among other findings:

  • Because of the current economy, charities are more strapped for cash than ever, which is fueling more charitable giving among neighbors.
  • Those who live in more conservative, or "red states",  are more generous than those in more liberal, or "blue states".
  • Middle income people give more than the wealthy, especially if the wealthy live among the wealthy.

Paul Piff, a social psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, told NPR that during his years of research he also has found that higher income people in diverse economic areas give more than those who live in wealthy areas.

"The more wealth you have, the more focused on your own self and your own needs you become, and the less attuned to the needs of other people you also become," he told NPR's Pam Fessler.

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