A story of great interest to me has been making its way through the local press today. It pertains to Massachusetts reputation as being cheap when it comes to charity.
In fact, the original study, calculated on something called the”Generosity Index” ranked Massachusetts 49th in the country, only beating out New Hampshire when it comes to charitable contributions, on a gross income basis. That study, initiated by a company called “the Catalogue for Philanthropy”, has now been called into question.
(However, the organization’s leadership has backed off its claims about Massachusetts’ frugality:
Spokesman Martin Cohn said that the Generosity Index never was supposed to be scientific, and that the catalogue’s only goal is to get people to talk more about philanthropy, which the organization feels will increase charitable giving.
”We’ve never purported this to be a scientific study — it’s an index," he said. ”An index by definition is an indication.")
Unfortunately, the press took the original authors’ conclusions as the last word, and many were critical of Massachusetts “stinginess”, including the New York Times, as well as the Florida Times-Union, which said: ”Northern liberals talk about compassion for the less fortunate, Southern conservatives act."
Now, the Boston Foundation has done a study of its own, and tweaked the methodology. Based on their own calculations, Massachusetts comes in a much better 11th out of 50 in charitable giving. The new study incorporates the higher cost of living in Massachusetts (and higher taxes) to establish how much is being given to charities from net income.
In the press:
Boston Business Journal: "Charity cheapskate" reputation of Bay State unmerited
Boston Globe: Mass. generous after all, study finds