Montclair residents donate almost 5.3% of their income to charity, while Upper Montclair residents donate 3.8% of their income, according to a new study released Monday by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
That's better than the New Jersey average of 3.7% given.
Montclair residents ranked 1,098 out of 28,725 New Jersey towns for contributions, donating $24.1 million in 2008 with an average family contribution of $2,881.
Upper Montclair residents ranked 1,382, donating $21.5 million with an average contribution of $5,314.
The median income cited for Montclair was $54,581 while it was $140,231 for Upper Montclair.
In nearby Bloomfield, an average of 4.3% of income was given. The town ranked 2,093 in the state, donating $16.7 million in 2008.
Many churches and synagogues in Montclair and elsewhere have continued to encourage charitable giving even in the midst of tough economic times.
Melody Williams, director of Christian education at the Presbyterian Church of Upper Montclair, said that the congregation's involvement in a wide range of causes has grown steadily in the 15 years that she's been a member of the church.
She said that the church's members "have made great efforts both monetary and physically to practice their faith in a very active way ... knowing the need is even stronger during these tough times."
Rabbi Laurence Groffman of Temple Sholom of West Essex said one of the reasons his temple is so successful is because of his congregants' generosity.
“Our High Holiday campaign supports the overall day-to-day running of the temple,” Groffman said. “Our whole congregation is generous.”
The study shows Essex County residents share Groffman’s assessment locally, countywide and statewide.
Charitable donations for non-profits and religious institutions in the state for 2008 ranked New Jersey in eighth place in the country, according to the report.
The report used IRS tax record for 2008, the most recent year data was available, to examine income levels and charitable donations made by taxpayers in each ZIP code.
The IRS releases figures for total amounts donated, but to protect privacy, the agency does not provide figures about the specific charities people supported.
Essex County ranked 62 out of 3,115 counties surveyed in the country with a median contribution of $2,712 per household and had total contributions for that year of $426.1 million, or 5.5 percent of resident’s total income, according to the report.
“The donations vary by the individual,” Groffman said, but some people, he said, are philanthropically challenged by work and other economic hardships.
Groffman said the congregation consists of a multi-generational group with many longstanding families, young families and older congregants.
Overall, charitable donations by New Jersey residents ranked eighth in the nation in 2008 with $4.5 billion, accounting for residents donating 3.7 percent of their annual income. In contrast, California finished in first place with $17.2 billion in charitable donations, with residents donating 4.4 percent of their annual income, while neighboring New York second place with $11.3 billion, accounting for 4.4 percent of resident’s annual income. North Dakota ranked last in the report with $163.5 million with residents donating 3.5 percent of their annual income.