Study: Pitkin County tops in donations |

Study: Pitkin County tops in donations

ASPEN ” Boasting hundreds of nonprofit organizations, Pitkin County can put another feather in its philanthropic hat.

A study released earlier this month showed residents of Pitkin County to be the most generous in Colorado, giving an average of $12,978 to charities. Averaging $8,477 in charitable gifts per donor, Eagle County was second in the survey.

Vail topped all Colorado communities, towns and cities, with an average of $15,674 per donor. Aspen, Woody Creek, Avon and Snowmass completed the top five.

The study, called “The State of Giving,” was issued by the Colorado Nonprofit Association, and was sponsored by a number of state foundations, including the Aspen Community Foundation and the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation.

Using federal tax data collected in Colorado for the 2005 tax year (the most recent year available), the report based its findings on information gleaned from zip codes and income levels.

The study focused on six regions in Colorado. The Northwest region ” home to 20 counties including Garfield, Eagle and Pitkin ” “demonstrated impressive generosity,” the report noted.

Ten percent of the state’s charitable giving in 2005 came from the Northwest region, while Eagle and Pitkin counties, as well as six others in the region, surpassed the state and national average for the percentage of income given to nonprofits.

Pitkin County residents gave 4.2 percent of their income to charity in 2005, compared to the U.S. average of 3.6 percent and the state average of 3.4 percent. Based on that same criteria, Delta County residents were the most generous in the Northwest region, giving 5.3 percent of their income to nonprofits.

The report ranked Avon residents atop the 10 largest communities in the Northwest region, giving 5.3 percent of their income to charity. At 4.1 percent, Aspen was No. 2, while Glenwood Springs residents averaged 3.6 percent and Carbondale residents 3.2 percent. (Vail did not qualify because its population was not large enough.)

When it comes to percentage of incomes given to charity, the most generous Colorado town of all was Manassa, located in Conejos County. Residents of Manassa, which has a population of just over 1,000, gave an average of 9.7 percent of their income to charity.

The metro Denver region, comprised of seven counties, ranked last, averaging 3.3 percent of income given to charity.

The study also noted that Coloradans in the lower income bracket ” those with an adjusted income under $50,000 ” gave 5.2 percent of their earnings to charity in 2005. Countering that were those earning between $75,000 to $100,000, who donated 3 percent.

All told, Coloradans gave $3.8 billion in gifts to charity in 2005. That was a 13 percent increase over 2004. Likewise, the average contribution increased by 10.5 percent in 2005, even though adjusted gross income of Coloradans who filed 1040 tax returns improved by 7 percent.

The chief reason for the increased generosity, the report explains, was Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast region in August 2005.

“Donors from across the country contributed generously to victims of this unprecedented natural disaster,” the State of Giving report said. “Coloradans were no exception.”

The report was not all glowing. Colorado ranks 36th nationally when it comes to percentage of income giving to charity, while the state ranks No. 5 in average income.

In a prepared statement, Charley Shimanski, president and CEO of the Colorado Nonprofit Association, said: “While we are excited to see generosity in Colorado growing, we can only imagine how great our state could be if our donors just gave a little more. If Coloradans had given at the same level as the average American “just two-tenths of 1 percent higher ” charitable giving would have been $243 million greater. That’s an increase nearly equal to the $246 million in total foundation funding in the same period.”

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