Top 15 Most Generous Cities in the U.S.
Generosity takes many forms. Think of the most generous people in your life—they are probably frequent gift-givers, but probably also quick to offer their time and attention. Generous people know that giving makes the world a better place, and that the spirit of generosity inspires other good acts.
In 2020, as the U.S. reeled from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, online giving saw a huge boost. Americans gave $471 billion to charities that year—a record-breaking amount. And while many of us have returned to work and to our normal lives as much as possible, fortunately, giving continues as well, with Americans volunteering their time and money to local and national organizations. According to GoFundMe, someone makes a donation every second to one of their campaigns, and since 2010, they have raised $15 billion.
We looked at our own data and compiled a list of the 15 most generous cities in America. Taking a look at volunteer rates, monetary donations, and nonprofit organizations, we determined which U.S. cities make generosity a priority.
And not only do the residents of these cities give to charity and volunteer their time in large numbers, but they also give generously to one another, out-giving every other U.S. city. Looking at our 2021 data to calculate the total number of Client Giant gifting touches by location to see which cities came out on top in generosity.
Did your hometown make the list?
1. Ashburn, VA
The city of Ashburn comes out on top by a long mile, with over 11,000 gifts given! Whether gifting to clients, loved ones, or employees, Ashburn residents are eager to show their appreciation with thoughtful gifts. And beyond individual gifting, the people of Ashburn are generous with their time and money, volunteering and donating to a wide range of local organizations and causes, including literacy efforts, animal shelters, and healthcare needs. Organization Spotlight The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia awarded over $6.5 million in grants and scholarships during 2021.
2. San Diego, CA
According to our data, San Diego is full of generous people. Altogether, San Diego residents gave over 5,800 meaningful gifts through Client Giant to the people on their lists. And individuals are also eager to give in other ways, volunteering with and donating to local organizations like Feeding San Diego and South Bay Community Services. When it comes to generosity, San Diego never hesitates to give, whether to a close friend or coworker, or to the community at large!
3. Orlando, FL
Orlando is close behind San Diego in generosity. Residents of this Florida city enjoy showing their appreciation and love through gifting thoughtful touches. And with over 12,000 nonprofit organizations in the Orlando metro Children’s Home Society of Florida area, residents often show their generosity by giving to charity as well, from environmental groups like the Save the Manatee Club to family-focused nonprofits like the Children’s Home Society of Florida.
Organization Spotlight: The Heart of Florida United Way has given $8.7 million to help over 6,000 residents of Central Florida increase their health and well-being, among many other contributions to the local community.
4. Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas may be known for gambling and partying, but its residents are some of the most generous in the country. Whether giving to charity or sending meaningful gifts to everyone on their lists, the people of Las Vegas joined the national trend in giving more throughout the pandemic. And they continue to show their generosity today, donating time and hours to organizations like Three Square, which is dedicated to feeding the hungry in the Las Vegas metro.
Fun fact: Las Vegas was previously named the fastest-growing U.S. city in terms of generosity.
5. Irvine, CA
The city of Irvine is so generous, it’s mentioned right on their website: “In Irvine, the spirit of giving is alive and well. People in Irvine are generous and eager to find ways to help others in need.” We agree! Irvine came in fifth on our list of the most generous cities in the U.S. and is the second city in California to rank. Residents of Irvine love to give, whether showing their appreciation through personalized gifts to employees and clients or volunteering their time to a favorite local cause.
Give back: Find places in Irvine to volunteer on their city website here.
6. Seattle, WA
Tied with Santa Ana, CA, for the city with the most food banks, Seattle hosts over 21,000 nonprofits. Some of the largest organizations focus on recreation, arts, culture, and environmental issues. Seattle also ranks high on the list for volunteering with residents donating time as well as funds to local organizations like the Seattle Children’s Hospital, the Pride Foundation, and Seattle Humane. Whether giving to individuals or organizations, residents of the Emerald City are happy to tap into their generosity.
Find causes to support: The Seattle Times publishes an annual Giving Guide to encourage locals to give back by volunteering and making charitable donations to local nonprofits.
7. Bellevue, WA
Next on the list: Bellevue is the seventh most generous city in the U.S. Residents gave over 2,600 thoughtful gifts in 2021 to show their appreciation, and the city boasts a 38.1% volunteer rate, which is the eighth highest among all metro areas, according to SmartAsset. In the same report, Bellevue tied with Seattle for the percentage of tax returns with charitable donations (13.96%).
Fun fact: Downtown Bellevue is home to a variety of nonprofit organizations serving the local community.
8. Chicago, IL
Coming in eighth for personal gifting and third for most animal shelters, Chicago residents give to just about every kind of cause. Some of the largest organizations in the Windy City include Feeding America and the American Brain Tumor Association. A 2015 study discovered that Chicago is one of the most generous cities in America when it comes to charitable giving and that residents especially love to focus on giving their time and money to local organizations.
Organization Spotlight: GiGi’s Playhouse Chicago strives to change the way the world views Down syndrome, promoting acceptance for all.
9. Lake Stevens, WA
The state of Washington is particularly generous with a third city making its way onto the list (and not the last Washington city either). Lake Stevens may be small population-wise, but their generosity is off the charts! Residents showed their appreciation with just over 2,500 thoughtful gifts in 2021 and regularly give through both volunteering and financial donations to local organizations focused on education, children, athletics, and a variety of other causes.
Organization Spotlight: The Lake Stevens Food Bank provides food to the hungry in the community.
10. Henderson, NV
Rounding out the top 10 is the second Nevada city on our list! Henderson residents are eager to express their appreciation. Beyond individual gifting, locals in this city give not just financially, but donate their time and talents as well through volunteering.
Organization Spotlight: Nevada’s largest literary nonprofit, Spread the Word Nevada, calls Henderson home and has distributed over 6 million books to low-income families and youth in the state.
11. Charlotte, NC
Whether sending meaningful and thoughtful gifts to colleagues and clients or volunteering their time and finances to better the community, residents of this North Carolina city are especially generous. Charlotte is home to over 13,000 nonprofit organizations, such as the 24 Foundation, which focuses on the lives of those affected by cancer, and Alexander Youth Network, a nonprofit dedicated to providing treatment to children with emotional and behavioral issues.
Find ways to give back: SHARE Charlotte connects volunteers and generous donors to organizations throughout the metro area.
12. Lynnwood, WA
The fourth Washington city on our list, Lynnwood’s generosity is evident in the more than 2,000 thoughtful gifts residents gave to show their appreciation in 2021. Additionally Lynnwood residents also give their time, talents, and finances to nonprofit organizations, from local chapters of national nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity to purely local efforts like the Lynnwood Food Bank.
Organization Spotlight: Camp Korey supports children living with serious medical conditions as well as their families, providing programs year-round.
13. Scottsdale, AZ
Representing the generosity of the Southwest on our list, Scottsdale residents rank just barely behind Lynnwood with their individual giving efforts. In addition to thoughtful touches to show appreciation to clients, employees, and other recipients, Scottsdale residents help their local community in a variety of ways, from volunteering to donating.
Ways to give locally: Scottsdale Cares is a city initiative that allows residents to add just $1 to their water bills and donate to the program. That money then goes to a variety of community organizations and initiatives, including services for disabled adults and emergency crisis support.
14. Huntington Beach, CA
Cheers for the West Coast! Right behind Washington with the second most cities on the list, California continues to prove its generosity. Residents of Huntington Beach enjoy sending thoughtful surprise gifts to demonstrate their appreciation, as well as donate to local and national organizations.
Organization Spotlight: Animal lovers can volunteer (or adopt a furry friend) at the Orange County Humane Society in Huntington Beach.
15. Washington, D.C.
Closing out our list of the top 15 most generous cities is Washington, D.C. The nation’s capital city hosts the headquarters of multiple national organizations, as well as some very generous residents. People who live in D.C. donate over $894 million to charity each year. Organizations like Lutheran Services in America contribute to health services, while Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit for advancing arts and culture in the United States.
Organization Spotlight: One of D.C.’s oldest and largest multicultural organizations, the YWCA National Capital Area provides career training services and mentorship to young people throughout the metro.
Why generosity matters
Giving has a positive effect on both the recipient and the giver, contributing to happiness, social connection, and even good health. And just like happiness, giving is often contagious, leading the recipient to pay it forward and be generous to someone else, whether that means donating to a charitable organization, volunteering their time, or giving a thoughtful gift to a colleague, client, or friend.
Generous people don’t just donate their time or money for their own benefit; in fact, things like tax breaks tend to be far from most givers’ minds.
So why do people give to charity?
- They have a personal connection to a cause.
- They want to do something meaningful.
- They enjoy making an impact.
- They want to make a difference.
With over 80% of all donations to nonprofits coming from individuals, not businesses or corporations, each person can make an impact for the greater good.
While many of us feel a little more giving around the holidays, generosity shouldn’t be seasonal. From food banks to organizations in need of volunteers, there are plenty of ways to give your time or money year-round to worthy causes.
Giving can be as large as making a big donation to a local charity or as simple as mowing your elderly neighbor’s lawn or helping out a friend in need. You can find ways to be generous in your neighborhood, your city, and even the world.
Whether your city is listed above or didn’t quite make the cut, you have the power to make a difference and change lives for the better in your community and beyond. If you have the power to make someone’s day, you’d be crazy not to.