Correction: In an earlier version of the graphic with this story, the bar accompanying the 47 percent change in home median listing prices was too short. The version below has been corrected.

Reid Wilson is the author of Read In, The Post’s new morning tipsheet on politics. If you have a candidate for Best State, e-mail reid.wilson@washpost.com.

A lesson all parents hope to instill in their children: It’s better to give than to receive. Apparently, people who live in Utah get the message better than the rest of us.

Two studies show that more Utah residents give time and money to charity than residents of any other state. What’s more, the average Utahn gives a higher percentage of his or her discretionary income to charity than those who live elsewhere.

A Gallup survey released this month showed that 71 percent of Utah residents donated money to a charitable cause in the past month, the highest rate in the nation. New Hampshire and Illinois residents tied for second, at 70 percent each. Fifty-six percent of Utah residents said they volunteered their time, also more than any other state; only Minnesotans, 53 percent of whom said they volunteered, came close to matching Utah’s giving ways.

But what really sets the Beehive State apart is the amount of money its residents donate. A 2012 survey of itemized deductions reported to the IRS, conducted by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, showed that the median contribution from a Utah resident was a whopping $5,255 — more than 10 percent of the median discretionary income in the state. To put that in perspective, Washington, D.C., residents gave the second-most per household, $2,995, at 7.7 percent of their median discretionary income.


Best state graphic June 1 2014, Best recession Recovery: North Dakota (seregim/The Washington Post)

Trevor Neilson, president of the Global Philanthropy Group, pointed to the history of Utah’s founding: A community of Mormons came to settle near the Great Salt Lake, without a government to take care of them. Contributions from individuals, as they could, became essential to the well-being of the group.

“The history of Utah is one of pioneers who came west to try to find a better life, and they had to do it on their own,” Neilson said. “People from Utah don’t rely upon the state to address the problems they see in their community. They have a deeply held belief, that often ties to their faith, that if they have the means to help, they need to help.”

People who live in Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshiregave less than 3 percent of the median discretionary income to charity, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy study, putting them at the bottom of the rankings. And Gallup’s poll found that less than a quarter of residents in Kentucky and Nevada said they contributed both their time and money to a cause.

Giving is linked to better community well-being, Gallup says. States with higher-than-average donating and volunteering tend to be happier and healthier.

But when it comes to generosity, no one beats Utah’s giving spirit.

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Reid Wilson covers state politics and policy for the Washington Post's GovBeat blog. He's a former editor in chief of The Hotline, the premier tip sheet on campaigns and elections, and he's a complete political junkie.