Evanston Tops Neighbors In Charitable Giving

A national ranking of the most giving zip codes shows that Evanston donates more than many surrounding North Shore communities, including Northbrook, Deerfield, Highland Park, Wilmette and Glencoe.

Evanston residents are among the most generous on the North Shore when it comes to charitable donations, according to 'How America Gives,' a study from the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Based on the study’s rankings, Evanston falls at No. 209 of 11,522 municipalities ranked throughout the country, donating a total of $72.7 million in 2008, according to tax returns.

Regionally, Evanston lands toward the top of surrounding communities, with donors giving 5 percent of their income on average and a median contribution of $3,213.

(Check out the tables below for a closer look at Evanston giving and how we compare to surrounding towns, the county, state and country, plus a breakdown of Evanston giving by income level). 

Evanston residents give a smaller percentage of their income than residents of Winnetka (No. 1 on the North Shore), Lake Forest, Kenilworth, but gave more than residents in Northbrook, Glenview, Deerfield, Highland Park, Wilmette, Glencoe and Skokie. 

The study shows how states, cities and neighborhoods rank in generosity using data by zip code, income level and charity given, taken directly from 2008 tax records. It can also be broken down by income level, age and race.

According to the study, Evanston residents gave less on average than Cook County as a whole (5.6 percent), despite a higher than average median income. But the giving rate of Evanston residents is greater than the average giving rate for the state of Illinois—4.2 percent—and greater than the national average of 4.6 percent.

“I think Evanston residents in general are committed to the idea that Evanston residents have to take care of their own,” said Jeremy Barrows, director of development and communications for the Evanston Community Foundation, which distributes grants to local nonprofits twice a year.

“There’s a sense that people have chosen very purposely to live in Evanston because of the values embodied in the Evanston community,” he adds.

Marybeth Schroeder, vice president for programs at the Evanston Community Foundation, notes that giving back is one of the themes of the city’s history.

“Evanston historically has always been a progressive community,” she says.

Social reformer Frances Willard set the tone for the city, and the Evanston Women’s Club dates to 1889, Schroeder explains. The vast number of faith communities in Evanston may also contribute to the city’s tradition of philanthropy.

While the study reveals that Evanstonians as a whole are more generous than residents of many other (and often wealthier) suburbs nearby, it also shows that the wealthiest Evanston residents donate the smallest percentage of their income.

Residents making $50,000 to $99,999 donated 9.1 percent of their income in 2008, while residents making $100,000 to $1999,000 donated 4.7 percent of their income. Those making more than $200,000 donated 4.1 percent, according to the study’s authors. Data does not include people with incomes below $50,000, because of discrepancies in the way their charitable giving is reported, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

For more details about the data and methodology, browse the full study here. 



Giving on the North Shore

Town % of Income Given Median Contribution Winnetka 5.4


Lake Forest 5.2


Kennilworth 5


Evanston 5


Skokie 4.9 $2,721 Northbrook 4.4


Glenview 4.2


Deerfield 3.9


Lake Bluff 3.9


Glencoe 3.8


Highland Park 3.7


Wilmette 3.6


Evanston Giving

Total contributions $72.7 million Median contribution $3,213 Median discretionary income $64,757 Percent of income given 5%

Evanston Giving by Income Level

Income % of Income Given $50,000-$99,000 9.1 $100,000-$199,999 4.7 $200,000 and up 4.1 All income levels 5

Giving by Comparison

Group % of income given Median contribution Median income Evanston 5
$3,213 $64,757 Cook County 5.6 $2,419 $43,531 Illinois 4.2 $2,371 $56,113 United States 4.7 $2,564 $54,783

* Source for charts: Chronicle of Philanthropy



Lightsleeper August 24, 2012 at 01:07 AM
Before we get too smug, it's important to note the flaw in this study. It lumps taxpayers' donations to churches into the "charity" category. This means that these dollars are padding the numbers. Equating 501(c) with "charity" yields some counterintuitive results. It could coincidentally be true that Evanstonians are particularly charitable, but this study — or at least this breakdown of the numbers — doesn't demonstrate anything definitive about relative generosity.


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