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Poor give more in Hall County
Chronicle of Philanthropy study shows residents agree that lower-income residents donate more freely
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Despite their deeper wallets, wealthier Georgians give less to charity than their lower-income neighbors, a study shows.

A recent analysis from the Chronicle of Philanthropy studied the charitable habits of Americans based on itemized deductions on tax returns, and it broke down the data by income levels.

The study indicates the lower a person’s income in Hall County, the greater percentage he or she gives to charity.

Jackie Wallace, president of United Way of Hall County, said it’s a development she’s seen in her work.

“It is a trend we’ve seen, though in general this is a very generous community,” Wallace said. “As that data shows, we’re doing far better than the national average in terms of giving.”

The national average is about 3 percent, according to the Chronicle, while the Hall County average is 4.23 percent.

Jim Mathis Jr., president of the North Georgia Community Foundation, said he also believes the county is very generous, though he and his wife have seen a giving discrepancy in their work as well.

“My wife was a CPA for a while and she said it was amazing how many wealthy people didn’t give much at all,” Mathis said. “That was just an observation she made when she would see tax returns, that it was amazing how many people just don’t give.”

Mathis said his organization and the United Way works with people differently in the community to support philanthropic endeavors. He said the community foundation works with wealthier area residents to cultivate giving. His clients tend to give savings accounts or trusts while the United Way works with “day-in, day-out checkbook givers.”

“We try to encourage that group we’re talking about to give,” Mathis said of wealthier North Georgia residents. “That’s our job.”

Wallace pointed out a wealthier donor might fund one big “bricks and mortar” project at an area university or institution, while lower-income people might make smaller donations more regularly.

There are some wealthy donors, however, who choose to regularly support human services, according to Wallace, including those provided by the United Way and area nonprofits.

Hall County residents who make less than $25,000 annually were the most generous in the area, giving 7.17 percent of their adjusted gross income in 2012. Residents of the same area making more than $200,000 annually gave 4.26 percent.

Wallace stressed that the study is based on percentages, meaning wealthier residents still often give a large sum of money. The average contribution for a person in Hall County making $200,000 or more was $20,211, while the average for a person making less than $25,000 was $1,955.

Among the nation’s largest cities, Atlanta was the fourth most generous, a statistic Wallace said reflects North Georgia’s giving spirit.

“That obviously extends up into our community as well,” she said. “This is one of the most philanthropic communities, I think in the nation. It’s amazing that a community our size has this amount of giving. It’s really quite special.”