Most Charitable Cities of 2018

Fidelity Charitable has just released its 2019 Geography of Giving, an annual report that ranks the most charitable cities in the U.S. The cities are evaluated based on how much they contributed to the following key issue areas: arts and culture, education, environment and animal welfare, health, human services, international affairs, religion, and public society benefit.

“As the nation’s largest grant-maker, we seek to understand the complete landscape of American giving—the priorities, concerns, and values of donors across the country—to create a better-informed donor community,” said Pamela Norley, president of Fidelity Charity. “Last year, Fidelity Charitable’s 200,000 donors generously supported more than a 142,000 nonprofit organizations in every state and across the world, but what we consistently see is how dedicated our donors are to their local communities.”

Below are the winners, broken down by the eight key issue areas:

Arts & Culture

Portland, Oregon jumped five spots to become the titleholder in this domain. The previous winner was Boston.


Bridgeport, Connecticut was awarded number one in education for the second year in a row—quite impressive for a city with an estimated population of only 147,000.

Environment & Animal Welfare

Boston, Massachusetts beat out Providence, Rhode Island as number one in this arena.


Not only was Boston ranked number one for environment and animal welfare, it also proved to be the most generous city when it comes to health-related issues.

Human Services

Cleveland, Ohio climbed three places to become top dog in this sector, unseating previous contenders Boston and Bridgeport.

International Affairs

As the political capitol of the U.S., it’s no surprise that Washington, D.C. was ranked number one in this division.


St. Louis, Missouri held onto its title for the second year in a row.

Public Society Benefit

Miami, Florida was also able to retain its championship title for the second year in a row.

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The Foundation of Giving: New Movements by the Wealthy to Give Back

Front of the Gates Foundation building
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Giving Pledge is one way billionaires are giving back.
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Whether it’s inherent in the structure of a business or a personal choice made by the wealthy individual, more and more billionaires are choosing to give away massive portions of their wealth to charity. Sometimes the donations happen during the person’s lifetime; other times it’s a promise through a program like the Giving Pledge to donate a significant percentage of their money to charity upon their death.

On the business side, groups like global financial powerhouse General Atlantic are often founded on the idea of giving back to the community. Established in 1980, General Atlantic has more than 100 investments around the world. But it’s not just about the money—the company founder, Chuck Feeney, was determined to make philanthropy a vital part of the business.

According to Bill Ford, General Atlantic Chief Executive Officer, Feeny “was one of the early proponents of ‘giving while living’ and aimed to give his entire fortune away during his lifetime to support a number of philanthropic causes he was passionate about. In order to grow his capital available for giving, he partnered with us to invest in other promising entrepreneurs. So General Atlantic’s heritage has always been about backing entrepreneurs and innovators who are trying to build new businesses and who often pioneer new industries.”

In more modern times, many billionaires are not only integrating philanthropy into their businesses, but also turning to Bill Gates’s and Warren Buffet’s Giving Pledge. The pledge is not a legally binding commitment, but rather, a promise by the world’s wealthy to donate more than half of their fortunes to charitable causes either during or after their lifetime. The Giving Pledge is meant to help the wealthy inspire others by providing well-known examples of people who have gone above and beyond to give back to their communities.

Each Pledge member publicly announces his or her intent to give, as well as creating an official statement about their philanthropic plans. In addition, they gather throughout the year—and at one big annual event—to discuss issues of philanthropy.

As of 2015, this group included 193 individuals from around the world, with more constantly joining

“It’s really thinking about how iconic figures providing inspiration and support can inspire and serve as a model for society,” said Robert Rosen, Giving Pledge coordinator and Director of Philanthropic Partnerships for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “We aren’t looking to add any additional complexity.”

Will these billionaires actually give the amounts they’ve promised? So far, many have. And hopefully they will inspire an entirely new generation of philanthropic do-gooders to do great things for their communities.


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The Right Gifts for the Homeless

If you live in or near a big city, chances are you’re fairly accustomed to seeing homeless people. With colder weather already settled in and the holidays coming up, now would be a good time to spend some time putting together care packages for the homeless people in your area who could really use your help. But not everything is going to be useful for them, like gift cards to be used over the internet or jewelry. Here are some better options to pack into care kits for your homeless friends!


It’s very difficult to keep clean living on the street. Fill your packs with things that promote health, wellness, and hygiene, like hand wipes, tissues, toothbrushes and toothpaste, Band-Aids, a small first-aid kit, combs, and nail clippers. However, make sure you keep things like scented soaps or lotions away from any food items you want to pack so that they don’t start to smell and taste like each other. Additionally, try to keep anything alcohol-based out of the kit, like hand sanitizer or mouthwash.

Additionally, consider donating things like tampons and sanitary napkins, which are often not provided at homeless shelters.


Include soft, nutritious snacks like applesauce, pudding, trail mix, or beef jerky, and avoid hard or crunchy things like granola bars or candy. Most homeless people don’t have regular access to a dentist, so softer snacks will usually be preferred over crispy ones. But beef jerky, despite its leathery texture, is a popular item because of how much protein it provides.

Other items.

Things besides food and toiletries are likely to be appreciated, too. Things like sturdy travel mugs, socks, and mittens could really help someone out. But don’t give cash or used items, as used items can feel insulting. Putting religious literature into the pack is also generally not preferred, though many people do it out of kindness; but for homeless people who receive Bible verses and tracts all the time, it gets old.

When you give your kits to your homeless friends, be kind about it. Don’t be rushed, don’t throw the pack out of a car window, and don’t go alone. Stop and get to know the person you’re trying to help and let them talk to you—if they want to, which they may not. But if you’re prepared to listen, they might tell you their stories.

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American Giving Exceeds Pre-Recession Levels

According to the annual Giving USA report on charitable donations in the United States, in 2014, for the first time in seven year, donations in this country exceeded pre-recession rates. In 2014, adjusting for inflation, Americans gave $358.38 billion.

That was a 7.1% increase over 2013, and giving was up in several categories. Individual giving increased by 5.7%, which may not sound like a lot, but was responsible for 58% of the growth of giving in 2014. Foundation giving increased by 8.2%, while corporate giving saw the largest single increase, with 13.6% more than in 2013.

The report tracks a number of different charitable categories, including religion, education, human services, health, arts and humanities, environment, public-society benefit, foundations, and international affairs. Currently, and historically, the frontrunners for amount of donations received are religious organizations, which made $114.9 billion in 2014. Despite these big numbers, religious donations are actually decreasing, as other kinds of donations increase. The report notes that this is a byproduct of fewer Americans identifying with a particular religion, or donating at houses of worship. The remaining faithful seem to be contributing their fair share though.

Why have donations seen such an increase? The report maintains that it is due to the generally healthier American economy. As the economy improves and unemployment rates come down, more Americans are able to give, and it seems like they’re willing to do that. It stands to reason that the wealthiest Americans, who have traditionally dominated charitable giving, are giving the most, but they’re certainly not alone.

Beyond the obvious benefit of having more money with which to accomplish their goals, the increase in donations helps charities do their work better. Namely, as the non-profit sector seems to have fully recovered from the recession, charities and non-profits can finally start focusing more of their energy on using that money, instead of spending all their time getting it in the first place.

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Charity Donation App Tinbox Promotes Free Giving

If you could give one dollar of someone else’s money to a charity of your choosing each day, would you? The creators of Tinbox are confident that most people would, which is exactly why they started their charitable mobile app.

The Paris-based startup Tinbox was founded in January of last year by a couple of friends at Warwick University in the UK. It aims to make a business out of people donating freely to the charities of their choice via a mobile app. When the mobile-only startup launches for the public in a couple of weeks, it will allow users to choose a charity to donate €1 per day to without having to spend any of their own money.

The donation costs the app users nothing because it’s sponsored by one of the companies the app is working with. Brands are giving free donation cash to improve their brand image and consumer perception. Reportedly, SAP has committed to fund 10,000 click throughs thus far, and the mobile app is also in discussion with several other major brands. Corporate Social Responsibility has become such an integral part of running a business, so it makes sense that major brands would be jumping at the chance to support charitable causes.

“For app users we solve the problem of not being able to donate to the charity they care about. Our vision is that everyone is able to support the causes to them. Through Tinbox they have 1 euro per day that allows them to do so,” says Tinbox co-founder David Linderman.

Users are notified daily to sponsor a cause and when the user opens the app, they will see different causes that they can sponsor and then the user can select what the money is used for. Once the place to donate is selected, the sponsoring company will donate the money and their logo and message will be seen on the screen. Tinbox is competing with free charity donation websites that urge people to click to donate by viewing ads but users can’t be sure exactly how much they are donating.

Learn more about this new app by visiting


American Philanthropists Lead the Global Ranking of Giving

The United States ranks highest in  in regards to their amount of philanthropic giving.
The United States ranks highest amount of philanthropic giving.
IMG: via Shutterstock.

Have you ever wondered how different parts of the world rank in regards to their amount of philanthropic giving? Thanks to the “BNP Paribas Individual Philanthropy Index” by Forbes Insights, now you don’t have to.

According to Forbes, “the 2014 BNP Paribas Individual Philanthropy Index measures and reflects the commitment of individual philanthropists from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and, for the first time, the U.S. in terms of three main criteria: the amounts given, innovation and the effort invested to promote their causes,” of the annual study. The data for the Philanthropy Index is compiled in part from a survey of more than 400 individuals, as well as from additional interviews with “ultra-wealthy philanthropists” in the listed regions conducted by Forbes. The purpose of the Index is to measure the amount of sustainable and efficient philanthropy is being cultivated by the world’s top individual givers.

The Philanthropic Index measures the commitment of individual philanthropists based on the set criteria, and gives them a score out of 100, before evaluating these scores for regional trends. This year, the United States scores 53.2, followed by Europe at a score of 46.3, Asia at 42.4, and the Middle East at 29.4. According to Forbes, “In the highest-scoring regions, not only to individuals give the most, but they also approach philanthropy in an innovative way and actively promote their causes.

The overall regional scores of this year’s Philanthropic Index reveal that although the U.S. has the top ranking, Europe and the other regions are actually not that far behind. As Forbes notes, “The lead of the U.S., viewed as an innovator, is not wide. […] Outside the U.S., more philanthropists are operating their own programs,” rather than relying on inheritances as is the trend in Western Europe and America. Forbes calls Asian philanthropists “trailblazers in wealth creation and philanthropy,” and pegs them as being more innovative in this realm.

Some American philanthropists that can be considered innovators include Pierre and Pam Omidyar, Bill Gates, and dozens of others who are as committed to promoting their causes and being trailblazers as they are writing checks. Thanks to the BNP Paribas Individual Philanthropy Index, American philanthropists can take cues from other philanthropic leaders abroad, who are slowly gaining on them in terms of individual giving.

Learn more about the Philanthropic Index by visiting Forbes Insights.


Giving, for Your Health

Giving for your Health
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We already know that helping others feels good, but new research provides evidence that philanthropy also provides very real health benefits. In Leslie Goldman’s “4 Amazing Health Benefits of Helping Others,” she details the physical advantages associated with humanitarian work. Here are four more fantastic reasons to help others:

  1. You’ll Lengthen Your Lifespan. “A 2013 review of 40 international studies suggests that volunteering can add years to your life – with some evidence pointing to a 22 percent reduction in mortality,” explains Goldman. Happily, studies reveal that you can start adding years to your life at any time; the health benefits of philanthropy are applicable to people of all ages.
  2. You’ll Experience Greater Happiness. Goldman explains how doing things for others triggers the reward center in your brain to pump out dopamine, creating what researchers call a “helper’s high.” Basically, doing good deeds, donating money, and volunteering your time can give you a literal boost of happiness!
  3. You’ll Be Better Equipped to Manage Pain. Studies have shown that “on a scale of 0 to 10, people’s average pain ratings dropped from nearly a 6 to below 4 after volunteer training and six months of leading discussion groups for pain sufferers,” indicating a correlation between volunteerism and pain management. Offering emotional support, donating time, or funds, has been proven to benefit those already in physical pain.
  4. You’ll Have Lower Blood Pressure. “A 2013 study in the Journal of Psychology and Aging revealed that adults over the age of 50 who reported volunteering at least 200 hours in the past year were 40 percent less likely than non-volunteers to have developed hypertension four years later,” explains Goldman. Essentially, those who volunteered roughly four hours per week reported having lower blood pressure than those who hadn’t. Who knew volunteering could be so good for your health?

Make a New Year’s resolution to become a better humanitarian; it will benefit your community, as well as your health!



Story Matters

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Baby boomers, or people born before 1946, are now the group that gives the largest share of donations to charities.  A recent study has shown that they, and the previous generation, represent 70 percent of total giving.

It could be that younger generations are finding it hard to get and keep good paying jobs.  Those just out of college face the toughest job market in years.  Many have moved back in with their parents just to keep afloat.  They call them the “boomerang” generation because they return home.

Though many younger people want to donate, they just don’t have enough in savings or current income to warrant it.  Many are working in internships for free or minimum wage.

Another recent trend is that younger donors, under 50, want more visibility to see where their dollars are going.  They also want to see the charity’s results.

“Nearly 60 percent of millennials, and half of Generation X donors, said that seeing results from their contributions influenced their decision to give. By contrast, only a third of the oldest generation said the same.”

If you are a non-profit, look out because younger people also do not agree that cash gifts are the best way to donate.  They would much rather volunteer their time and efforts.  Though they said that, older people were more likely to have actually volunteered – 42 percent of people in their 70s versus 33 percent of millenials.

In terms of fundraising preferences, online giving is the best way.  Direct mail only works for people in their 70s and older.  Everyone else is going digital.  If you visit a non-profit’s website, you will almost always see a tab for donations.  If not, they really need to re-amp their site.

However, what all generations are asking for is back story.  They want to feel a connection to a cause if they are going to donate.  It’s important to bring people in and talk to them about what the organization is actually doing.  Story matters.

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Scott Harrison Asks Everyone to Give Up Their Birthday

Scott Harrison & Adrian Grenier
Scott Harrison & Adrian Grenier at a charity:water event.
IMG: lev radin/Shutterstock

One of American Express’s recent videos in their Passion Project campaign features the story of how Scott Harrison started charity:water.  Living the life of a nightclub promoter, Scott was unhappy and felt like he needed to do something more.  After learning about the need for clean water around the world, Harrison decided he wanted to help.  On his thirty first birthday, he called in all of his favors and asked all of his friends to come to his birthday party and make a donation.  With that and a promise to show his friends where all the money went, charity:water was born.

To read more about Scott Harrison and his charity, read our profile.


Five Benefits of Giving

Giving Benefits
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You know the feeling you get when you donate to a charity or give a gift to someone less fortunate?  It turns out that giving can also be good for you…and the rest of the community.  Here are the top five reasons to be a giver.

  1. Giving makes you feel happy.  A 2008 study by Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton and colleagues found that people felt happier when they gave money to somebody else than when they spent it on themselves. In a 2006 study, Jorge Moll and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health found that when people give to charities, it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect. Scientists also believe that altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain, producing the positive feeling known as the “helper’s high.”
  2. Giving is good for your health. A variety of research has proven that elderly people who volunteer their time actually live longer than those who do not.  Another study reports that “giving to others has been shown to increase health benefits in people with chronic illness, including HIV and multiple sclerosis.”
  3. Giving promotes cooperation and social connection.   When you give, you are more likely to get back.  It allows you to reach outside of your world and feel a kinship with others you might ordinarily not have.  It has a way of expanding horizons.
  4. Giving evokes gratitude. It doesn’t matter whether you are giving or receiving a gift.  The feelings created by that exchange are ones of gratitude.  It can be a way of expressing gratitude or instilling gratitude in the recipient. And research has found that gratitude is integral to happiness, health, and social bonds.
  5. Giving is contagious.  Sometimes when we give, it inspires others to do the same.  It can send a “ripple effect” out to many others.  You might not even know how what you do today affects people all the way around the world.