With millionaires in blossom at the millennium, a research group says there's plenty of charity potential in many of the country's largest and wealthiest states as well as the nation's capital.
The Newtithing Group has released a report on "Affordable Donations" that ranks individual giving in the 50 states and the District relative to financial wherewithal. In arriving at its rankings, the group considered individuals with adjusted gross income of more than $200,000, plus their wealth, based on IRS tax-filing data. Topping the list is Utah, where the Mormon Church is dominant and strongly encourages tithing.
According to Newtithing, of the 9,800 Utah filers with adjusted gross incomes of more than $200,000, donations per filer stood at $42,000. Their average assets were $3.2 million. The value of homes and retirement plans are not included in the latter figure.
In wealthier states, where a relatively higher number of people have large incomes, giving tends to be lower relative to assets, according to the San Francisco-based group. California, which has 248,000 filers at $200,000 or more, is 28th on the list, even though the state's relatively expensive homes are discounted. Texas was 31st, New York 43rd and Florida 49th. They are the four largest states in the country.
Locally, the District ranked 46th, with average donations of $24,000 but average assets of $5 million; Virginia was 19th, with average donations of $17,700 and assets of $3.1 million; and Maryland was 24th, with average donations of $15,900 and $2.9 million in assets. Delaware ranked lowest on the list, with 4,800 filers having average assets of more than $6 million and donating an average of $19,000.
Claude Rosenberg, president of Newtithing, hopes that the rankings will spur giving.
"If you really believe the private sector can do things more efficiently [than the government] . . . let's see what we can do about charitable giving," says Rosenberg, who spent 40 years in business before founding Newtithing.
The figures are available on the Internet at www.newtithing.org.
THEN AND NOW: As one millennium gives way to another, the influence of the most prominent benefactor of that other turn-of-the-century endures. Steel baron Andrew Carnegie sold his company 99 years ago and donated virtually all the $400 million in proceeds for social causes. He is best known for building more than 2,500 public libraries.
The current assets of the several foundations he set up, including the D.C.-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, are in the billions.
Present-day moguls are not likely to cash in their stock and devote all their time to giving their wealth away. But the causes Carnegie espoused--peace and "the diffusion of knowledge"--are drawing more support than ever: a billion-dollar pledge from Ted Turner for the United Nations, another billion from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for minority college scholarships, a gift of $23 million from an Indiana couple for the educational benefit of their small town, more than a handful of donations from individuals of $100 million or more for universities.
Many, like Carnegie, cite personal experience as prodding them to give.
"Andrew Carnegie never forgot the time when as a boy he had been unable to pay the subscription fee of $2 a year to borrow books" from a public library, Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corp. of New York, said in the foundation's recent annual report. "Public, he learned, does not always mean free. . . . Carnegie determined to make free library services available to all who needed and wanted them."
CENSUS REPORT: The Census Bureau reports that grantmaking and charitable services received $49 billion in contributions and investment income in 1997, the most recent year for which complete figures are available. The organizations employed 104,807 people at 11,906 locations.
The bureau also says that social advocacy organizations--human rights, environmental, conservation and wildlife groups--drew $7.5 billion in revenue, with 85,041 workers at 10,120 places. The District led the 50 states, with organizations collecting $1.2 billion.
CHARLIE AND FRIENDS: Soon you may never see Linus clutching his blanket in the comic strips again, but the ailing creator of Peanuts has secured himself a legacy beyond the funny pages. Much of Charles M. Schulz's charity has been anonymous, according to press reports. But among his identifiable donations have been $1 million each toward creation of a D-Day monument in Bedford, Va., and a cartoon museum in Boca Raton, Fla.
Meanwhile, the object of affection for Lucy's baby brother inspired "Project Linus," a charity that donates "security blankets" to seriously ill and traumatized children. Four years ago, a frail girl suffering from leukemia told Parade magazine that her blanket strengthened her resolve during chemotherapy. Thus was woven the project, with Schulz's blessing. Its Web site, www.projectlinus.org, says more than 120,000 blankets have been provided.
Kent Allen's e-mail address is email@example.com