03 October 2013


Story First Appeared in  Crain's Detroit Business.

GRAND RAPIDS, MI -- When it comes to giving, Grand Rapids ranks as one of the country's most generous cities.

When compared to cities across the country, Grand Rapids comes in at 13th out of the top 20 determined by nerdwallet.com, a consumer finance site.

It's the only Michigan city to make the list that evaluates communities on volunteerism and philanthropy.

But Grand Rapids falls short of a trio of Utah cities that top the list: Provo, Ogden and Salt Lake which rank first, second and third, respectively.

Grand Rapids' volunteer rate is 36.7 percent, compared to Provo's to 58.5 percent. There was even a wide span between annual volunteer hours, with Grand Rapids' averaging just under 34 hours compared to 147 hours in Provo.

When it comes to donating money to causes, Grand Rapids residents give less than half than their counterparts in Provo: 13.9 percent compared to 5.3 percent.

Grand Rapids had an overall score of 30.5 percent compared to Provo's 100 percent.

The three top communities on the list are at ground zero of the Mormon faith, whose members belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which is headquartered in Salt Lake City.

Religion plays a role in levels of philanthropy, whether that is volunteer or donating money, says Divya Raghazan, a nerdwallet senior analyst.

She noted that while Grand Rapids is known for having generous deep-pocket philanthropists, the list also looks at community's population to see if residents, in general, tend to donate time as well as money.

"Most Christian religions request 10 percent tithing but Mormons are more likely to do it," said Raghazan. "There is a strong culture of charity and volunteerism in the Mormon Church, and I think in several other religions as well."

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