Either Texas is one of the U.S.’s most generous states, or we’re cheapskates.
It depends whom you trust: The Chronicle of Philanthropy, or a dubious personal finance services website.
The Washington-based sales site WalletHub.com jarred Texans this week by ranking Texas 48th of 50 states in charitable giving and volunteering.
When it came down to actual giving and not just participation, Texas did even worse: 49th out of 50, and thank goodness for Arizona.
Except WalletHub’s calculations came out completely opposite from most philanthropy rankings.
The Chronicle, for example, has ranked Dallas-Fort Worth the ninth most generous metropolitan area.
According to the Chronicle, we give an average of $56 a week, or 5 percent of our income.
Johnson County is actually the most generous county in the region, giving a median donation of about $92 a week, slightly ahead of Dallas.
That’s consistent with other rankings in recent years showing Johnson County as one of the most generous, similar to Wal-Mart headquarters Bentonville, Ark., or Charlottesville, Va.
But here’s the catch: Those figures give more weight to church donations and tithes. Southern cities with big churches, and religious centers such as Salt Lake City, rank high.
Both the WalletHub.com and Chronicle studies ranked Utah and Salt Lake City at the very top. But after that, the Chronicle numbers favored Southern metropolitan areas such as Memphis, Nashville and Atlanta, while WalletHub.com’s formula favored Minnesota, Oklahoma and smaller states such as Delaware or New Hampshire.
This might explain the difference: WalletHub.com gave equal weight to the “number of charities per capita” and “number of food banks per capita,” rankings where Texas’ size and sprawl doesn’t fit the formula. (For example, Texas was bottom-five in “fewest charities.”)
(Also, the WalletHub.com study did not include donations to charitable foundations, explaining that there is no way to ensure they are used for the public good. That discounted gifts from many Texas families.)
The WalletHub.com study was compiled by Richie Bernardo, a reporter and data analyst.
Among his other work for the website, which publishes studies to attract readers and sell them financial services: “States With The Biggest Bullying Problems,” “Worst Cties for Drivers,” “Most Gambling-Addicted States” and “Fattest States.”
Texas’ great ranching, oil and business families have set the standard by giving generously, and most Texans chip in.
Something about this study just didn’t add up.