What does your hometown (rather than your religion, race, or political beliefs) have to say about your level charitable giving? Do you buck the trend or are you right on target?

Here’s the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s rankings of charitable giving for 366 U.S. major metropolitan areas. (Not taken into account, was volunteerism which surely counts for generosity!)


Giving of all kinds can help your emotional well-being, as studies show, though studies aren’t really needed to prove this—if you are a giver, the benefits are apparent. There are all kinds of reasons to give. Many traditional life paths have rich histories of charitable giving and volunteerism.

In our Jewish tradition, a bare-minimum of 10 percent of one’s income is given to charity. Actually, giving 20 percent is standard in many of our communities and many of the people who do so are not rich, in fact, far from it. What type of charity to give to is where you can get really creative. These are not limited to education, hunger, homelessness, disabled children or adults, medical and health charities, etc.

Our tradition also suggests (some say requires) that we tithe our time, so that at least 10 percent of working-hours are given with no charge. Yes, we’re busy.

Charity is actually a mistranslation of the traditional Hebrew word tzedaka; the word translates more closely to “righteousness” or “justice” which is achieved when an individual chooses to give money and his/her time for good causes. That the individual chooses to do so is all-important—compelled or enforced charitable giving does not confer the same psycho-spiritual effects. Free will is all-important.

Choice, free-will, thoughtfulness;these are respected and necessary to achieve uplifting charitable giving and volunteerism. Some of the effects of giving are obvious and not even altruistic: When you give to others, you yourself feel better, good, fabulous. 

Sometimes, I suggest that depressed clients (those who are able and for whom it is appropriate) to volunteer some of their time. Last year, a client who was depressed began volunteering at a local program here in NYC, the NYC Food Bank. From there, his volunteering mushroomed (pun intended). Now, he’s getting together a program which helps get nutritious food to those with addiction and mental illness. We plan to blog about it soon as we get the green light.