Study: Largest donations come from Pitkin County |

Study: Largest donations come from Pitkin County

pitkin county correspondent

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


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


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


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


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