‘Tis the season: When it comes to volunteerism and giving, just how generous are Vermonters?

According to a recent survey by the Washington, D.C.-based personal-finance website  WalletHub, when it comes to charities among the 50 states, Vermont has the most charities per capita. Yet the state did not make the top 20 list of most charitable states.

Lou Varricchio/TNR

VERMONT GIVING: Vermonters tend to give more to local charities than on a statewide level, according to Joanie Praamsma of the Pregnancy Resource Center of Addison County. (Pictured: Praamsma, left, with Client Services Director Fawnda Buttolph)

The site’s rankings are based on Giving Tuesday and focus on the year-end charitable season of giving. The event was created six years ago by the New York-based Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact.

According to WalletHub, Vermont has the most charities per capita, at 27.14. This is more than four times Nevada, the state with the fewest in-state charities, at 5.95.

Nevertheless, the Green Mountain State didn’t make it into the top 20 most generous in the United States. Vermont ranks 33rd among the 50 states when it comes to charitable giving.

“With a third of all annual giving taking place in December, and the U.S. ranking No. 5 overall in the 2017 World Giving Index, our report on 2017’s Most Charitable States includes a charity calculator to help donors decide whether to give time or money for maximum philanthropic impact,” WalletHub’s Communications Manager Diane Popa told True North Reports.

How does Vermont stack up when it comes to volunteering and giving back to the community? When it comes to having a population of dedicated volunteers, Vermont ranked No. 1 in retaining community volunteers.

WalletHub reported the following data on Vermont collected by its survey takers:

  • Volunteerism rate: 31.04 percent, 12 out of 50
  • Volunteer retention rate: 75.9 percent, 1 out of 50
  • Volunteer hours per capita: 37.1 percent, 13 out of 50
  • Community-service requirement for high school graduation: 25 out of 50
  • Share of population collecting and distributing clothes for the needy: 22.73 percent, 35 out of 50
  • Share of population collecting and distributing clothing for the needy: 11.25 percent, 47 out of 50
  • Share of Vermont’s population fundraising or selling items to raise money for charity: 25.73 percent, 19 out of 50.
  • Share of income donated to charities and the needy: 0.94 percent, 45 out of 50
  • Share of population donating personal time to charities and the needy: 44 percent, 12 out of 50
  • Rank of population donating money to charities and the needy: 34 out of 50
  • Public charities per 100 residents: 27.14 percent, 1 out of 50
  • State regulations affecting charities: 40 out of 50
  • “Feeding America” food banks per 1 million residents: 86 percent, 19 out of 50
  • Overall score: 61.9 percent
  • Overall rank: 33 out of 50

WalletHub survey analyst Jill Gonzalez told TNR that, at least in terms of volunteering, Vermont does quite well compared to rest of the United States.

“Vermont has the 12th highest volunteer rate at 31 percent and the highest volunteer retention rate in the country at 76 percent,” she said. “However, when it comes to distributing food and clothes, the state ranked below average with just 23 percent of the population distributing food and 11 percent distributing or collecting clothes, the third lowest share in the country.”

However, when it comes to charitable giving, in terms of out-of-pocket money, the picture looks very different, Gonzalez added.

“Less than one percent of Vermonters’ income is donated. Fortunately, it appears that Vermont’s residents — 44 percent of them — prefer to donate their personal time (rather than money).” Gonzalez said.

“That’s certainly helpful since the state has the highest number of public charities at over 27 per 10,000 residents,” she added.

When it comes to helping out those in need, in the true sense of the old adage, time is just as valuable as money in the minds of most Vermonters.

Joanie Praamsma, executive director of the nonprofit, faith-based Pregnancy Resource Center of Addison County in Middlebury, agrees that Vermonters are somewhat cautious when donating their hard-earned money to charity. However, she suggested that it is born of good old-fashioned New England pragmatism.

“I used to work for a statewide nonprofit, so I have the perspective from giving at a statewide level to giving on the local level,” Praamsma told True North. “I observed that I didn’t see as much giving on the big level as much as you do locally. Vermonters like their towns and villages. Thus, people appear to give more on a very local level. I’d suppose that’s because donors are more simply more connected to their own communities.”

As far as the current state of volunteerism goes across Vermont, Praamsma said she gives it a “big thumbs up.”

For example, we have three volunteers working in our Middlebury office right now, with a total of six volunteers who help us out for certain events. And then we have to count the 15 generous churches and their congregations who help us, too. So far, we haven’t lost a single dedicated volunteer.”

Lou Varricchio is a freelance reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at lvinvt@gmx.com.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Public domain and Lou Varricchio/TNR

One thought on “‘Tis the season: When it comes to volunteerism and giving, just how generous are Vermonters?

  1. Lou,
    Vermonters are willing to be generous with their physical charity efforts at the grass roots level, but they just do not have the financial wherewithal to be more generous money wise, which is the metric of your article.
    It shows, Vermonters are money poor, on a relative basis.
    High taxes, surcharges and fees likely have something to do with it, as well as having the most socialistic state government in the US.
    Oh, I forgot, Vermont’s government is also rated among the most corrupt in the US, and ranks 44 in business friendliness, according to Forbes.

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