Albany shows its generous nature


There have been reports on statistics about the Metro Albany area that have been less than flattering, but the five-county area deserves a pat on the back for one important area — giving.

A report by the Chronicle of Philanthropy ranks Metro Albany — comprising Dougherty, Lee, Baker, Worth and Terrell counties — as the top-ranked metro area in the state when it comes to giving as a percentage of income. Even more impressive, the Albany MSA ranks No. 8 nationally among 366 metro areas.

On the county level, Dougherty ranked No. 61 out of 3,115 U.S. counties. Terrell led the five-county MSA at No. 24, followed by Baker, No. 46; Worth, No. 223, and Lee, No. 628. Adjacent to the Albany MSA, Mitchell was No. 255 among the nation’s counties; Colquitt was No. 155; Tift, No. 277; Calhoun, No. 43, and Sumter, No. 191.

Georgia as a whole ranks well on the list, No. 9 out of 50 states and the District of Columbia.

These numbers are not gross donations, but donations as a percentage of income. For Metro Albany, that 8.4 percent represents a median annual donation of $4,274 on a median income of $50,602.

That’s an important factor as federal money for social programs come under a harsher gaze in Washington as the arguments over how to divvy up the billions of dollars in revenue the federal government gets every year and which programs should be cut reach a crescendo as the congressionally created fiscal cliff nears. In the past few days, there finally appears to be some movement from the Republicans and Democrats toward a solution that would prevent an indiscriminate cutting of federal spending regardless of a program’s merit.

Who knows? Perhaps when the gentleman in the red fur suit comes by next week he’ll bring the gifts of civility, listening, courage and wisdom to our leaders in the White House and the Legislature. But our guess is none of the individuals in the legislative and executive branch even had those on their lists this year.

The report by the Chronicle on Philanthropy had data that might surprise some who tend to stereotype givers and takers. For instance, states that were politically dominated by Republicans also dominated the list for the most-giving states, while the least generous states were primarily Democratic controlled.

Of the four regions, the South as a whole gave a larger percentage than the others, primarily because of strong giving to religious organizations such as churches.

While every dollar donated to a worthy cause is important regardless of rankings and such, it is — especially in this season when giving and helping those in need tugs the hardest at the heart strings — pleasant to note that the residents of our metro area are doing a good job of sharing what they have with those who have not. Charity is its own blessing, and let’s hope that the blessings continue.