Loudoun’s Giving Continues to Lag Behind the Rest of Virginia

For a second year, research conducted by the Chronicle of Philanthropy to measure charitable giving reveals lackluster household giving in Loudoun County.

While most of Loudoun’s neighboring counties reported an increase in giving between the study’s release first in 2014 and again in 2017, Loudoun residents’ giving rates have remained flat.

The most recent study reflects spending in 2015. Loudoun residents gave 1.9 percent of their income. That equates to a median gift of $3,685. Their generosity lagged behind nearby counties and the state average. That same year, Fauquier County residents gave 3.2 percent of their income, Clarke County gave 2.8 percent, Fairfax County gave 2.6 percent, and Virginians on average gave 2.9 percent of their income.

The study, How America Gives, offers an analysis of the giving patterns of Americans who earn $50,000 or more annually and who itemize charitable deductions on their income-tax returns for 2012 and 2015.

Itemized giving of these taxpayers represents nearly 80 percent of all individual charitable contributions and offers the best comparison into giving at local levels, according to Amy Owen, president of the Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties. It also includes giving to places of worship and nonprofits serving education, health, animal welfare and other charities.

The key measure is the giving ratio, Owen stated. This is the total of a locality’s charitable contributions as a share of its total adjusted gross income. For instance, if itemizing taxpayers in a given area earned on average of $100,000 and gave away $3,000, that area’s giving ratio would be 3 percent.

If Loudoun County’s giving were equal to the giving rate of Virginia’s overall giving ratio of 2.9 percent, it would generate an additional $155,000,000 for charity, according to the Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties.

The first How America Gives study released in 2014 prompted the charitable foundation to launch its Faces of Loudoun campaign. The campaign spotlights Loudoun residents who have relied on the services of local nonprofits addressing homelessness, aging in place, intellectual and mental disabilities, domestic violence, health, addiction, teen suicide, mental health, hunger insecurity, and employment.

“Our research indicated that many of our local residents don’t understand there is need in Loudoun County,” Owen said.

After hosting a series of focus groups with a variety of people, ranging from first responders to business leaders, the responses revealed two key concerns, Owen said. “First, participants vocalized their perception of limited or no need in Loudoun. And, second, they exhibited a startling lack of awareness of existing nonprofits providing core safety net services in the community.”

Launched in March 2017, the Faces of Loudoun campaign is based on the adage that “people give to people,” explained Owen. “If we can help each other see the people their local gift helps, we can inspire more giving right here at home.”

Throughout this year, the campaign will continue to feature local residents who’ve been helped by the nonprofit community, volunteers of some of the organizations, and some of the key nonprofit staff and leaders running the county’s core safety net nonprofits.

Learn more about the Faces of Loudoun community service campaign and the stories portrayed at FacesofLoudoun.org.

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