George McCully, president of the Catalogue for Philanthropy, said the Generosity Index has become the go-to source for tracking charitable giving in the U.S. “We’re not really generating any data,” said McCully. “We’re just correlating data from the IRS, including itemized charitable deductions, with average income.”
McCully, who is Episcopalian, said he didn’t set out to prove or establish anything, just to see how philanthropy played out on a state-by-state level.
According to McCully, Jews are the most generous of any religious group. Among Christians, Baptists rank first. That helps explain the Magnolia State’s generosity, since 34 percent of Mississippians are Baptists.
McCully said that when the catalogue’s data began to get national attention, he found himself on the talk-show circuit clearing up misconceptions. “Everyone wanted to make it a Blue-Red issue,” said McCully. “They were determined to conclude that Republican states were more generous than Democratic states. I categorically disagree with that. It’s clear from our research that it’s religion and giving, not political affiliation and giving.”