Char∙it∙a∙ble (adj) full of love for and goodwill toward others.
The U.S. is home to hundreds of organizations that are committed to making the world a better place. We want to recognize a few of the charities doing big things in their local communities—and across the nation. Want to get involved? Good news: you don’t have to be a local to help out. The charities on our list (and many others!) offer an online donation option for anyone who’d like to contribute.
Click any state on the map to reveal its most charitable city. For a full description of the charity’s contributions, click the highlighted text, or simply scroll down the page.
America’s most charitable cities
1. Salt Lake City, Utah
Charity: Utah Food Bank
Thanks to nearly 300,000 volunteers who put in a combined 38 million hours of annual service, Salt Lake City is the most charitable city on the map. The city’s top charity, the Utah Food Bank, has been around for more than a century. And in a community where 1 in 7 people face food insecurity, its contributions are as vital as ever. The Utah Food Bank runs a virtual donation portal so locals and friends in other states can help them provide meals for children, adults and seniors in need.
2. Idaho Falls, Idaho
Charity: Boy Scouts of America, Grand Teton Council
Idaho Falls takes the silver medal for generosity. The city’s proximity to renowned national forests like Yellowstone is reflected through its most active charity, Boy Scouts of America, Grand Teton Council. The council’s volunteers, scouts and leaders contribute to the Idaho Falls spirit of service, community and camaraderie—so much so that their service work extends outside of their home state into Wyoming and Montana. The proceeds of the council’s annual popcorn sale support local troops and service projects.
3. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Charity: United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County
With a population of more than 400,000 volunteers, Milwaukee weighs in as the third most charitable city in the United States. The shore-side city known for its breweries is also big on giving back—especially through United Way. This organization invests in programs to provide a safety net for people in need, while working toward broader solutions to break the cycle of poverty. But volunteers aren’t the only ones that contribute. More than 40 local restaurants have pledged to donate a percentage of their total sales to United Way for the city’s United We Dine event. When it comes to making Milwaukee feel more like home, everybody gets involved.
4. St. Paul, Minnesota
Charity: Second Harvest Heartland
Minnesota’s capital city is also its most charitable city. St. Pauls’ top charity is Second Harvest Heartland, a hunger-relief organization that collects and distributes food across 59 counties. Second Harvest Heartland has distributed more than 70 million pounds of groceries to people in need, and about one third of these resources go to children. With help from community sponsors like local radio station myTalk 107.1, Second Harvest Heartland hosts a Food for Families drive each year. The drive aims to provide targeted relief for children who don’t have access to free or reduced-cost lunch while school is out of session.
5. Wichita, Kansas
Charity: Kansas Humane Society
More than 35% of Kansans are volunteers, making Wichita the fifth most generous city in the country. Wichita’s top charity is the Kansas Humane Society, and if history is any indicator, that won’t change any time soon. For over 128 years, the Kansas Humane Society has supported the state’s abandoned and homeless animals with adoption services, affordable spay/neuter procedures, youth education and community outreach. The shelter’s biggest event is its annual Woofstock fundraiser, a community festival that brings Wichita residents together to celebrate their furry family members.
6. Burlington, Vermont
Charity: Flynn Center for the Performing Arts
Burlington, Vermont comes in strong at #6. This small Northeastern city has lots of heart—and what’s heart without art? Burlington is proudly diverse, bustling and vibrant, so it’s no surprise that the top charity contributes directly to this culture. The Flynn Center for the Performing Arts fosters creativity and civic engagement by helping performing arts thrive throughout the state. Through donations and grants, the organization supports creative endeavors of local artists and offers cultural and educational programs for the whole community.
7. Omaha, Nebraska
Charity: Girls Inc. of Omaha
Nebraska’s largest and most charitable city sits along the Missouri river, where it serves as the home for the only Girls Inc. chapter in the state. Girls Inc. of Omaha supports and empowers young girls by providing counseling services, transportation, healthy meals and internet access. But it’s about even more than the tangibles. The organization offers mentoring relationships, educational programs and support in a safe space. Girls Inc.’s ultimate goal is to help Omaha girls grow into strong, smart and healthy women. So far, their efforts have paid off: recent data shows that 86 percent of girls involved in the Girls Inc. reading program made measurable improvements in literacy.
8. Fairbanks, Alaska
Charity: Fairbanks Community Food Bank
Fairbanks may be far from the mainland, but its contributions are far from forgotten. More than a third of all Alaskans provide volunteer services each year. And when it comes to compassion for community members, it’s clear that the Golden Heart City was aptly named. Alaska’s top charity is the Fairbanks Community Food Bank, which collects and distributes food to those in need. A key aspect of the food bank’s mission is to intercept and redistribute surplus food that would otherwise be wasted. Hardworking volunteers, online contributors and commercial vendors help ensure that no one in Fairbanks goes hungry.
9. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Charity: Sioux Empire United Way
South Dakota is home to 228,000 volunteers, and most of them are from Sioux Falls. This rapidly-growing Midwest metropolis is making a name for itself outside of the Mount Rushmore State. South Dakota’s top charity is Sioux Empire United Way, an organization that addresses the community’s most pressing needs in many different ways. Volunteer-led programs (i.e. library programs, after school programs, and mentoring programs) aim to improve the lives of those in the local community. This year, Sioux Empire United Way will host the 12th annual WomenUnite Event, a collaborative assembly in which women across the community come together to support grade school children in need of dental care.
10. Ames, Iowa
Charity: Iowa State University Alumni Association
Ames, Iowa rounds out the top 10 most charitable cities. This college town has a strong connection to Iowa State University, and it shows. Cardinal students, alumni and fans are committed to improving their community even beyond campus. The Iowa State University Alumni Association hosts events to foster positive engagement with the university and larger community. Cy’s Days of Service (named in honor of ISU’s cheeky cardinal mascot) is a month-long event open to all alumni and friends of ISU. It’s a full-month community service blitz when members do it all: donate blood, clean up local parks, volunteer at hospitals—and much more.
11. Seattle, Washington
Charity: Legal Foundation of Washington
Of Washington’s 1.6 million volunteers, more than half live in the Seattle metro Area. The sprawling city known for the Space Needle, delicious coffee and frequent rainstorms is on its way to adding one more attribute to this list: a passion for justice. The Legal Foundation of Washington helps ensure that all citizens (especially low-income individuals) have equal access to legal counsel and resources. Since its establishment, the LFW has dedicated 175 million dollars to further these efforts. In addition to providing assistance programs to those in need, the Legal Foundation of Washington encourages the larger legal community embrace this responsibility.
12. Portland, Oregon
Charity: Oregon Food Bank
The residents of Portland aren’t just eco-friendly. They also care about each other. The city boasts a higher percentage of volunteers than all of Oregon combined. And its top charity, the Oregon Food Bank, is largely responsible for these statistics. The food bank works to eliminate hunger in Oregon and irradiate its root causes. With more than 180,000 total service hours and 49.5 million pounds of emergency food, Portland volunteers are helping to realize this vision in Oregon. The Oregon Food Bank provides emergency food, nutrition education and public policy advocacy – as well as the hope for a hunger-free future.
13. Bangor, Maine
Charity: United Way of Eastern Maine
More than half of the population of America’s Northeastern-most state donates to charity. At the heart of Maine—and its altruistic efforts—is Bangor. The city’s dynamic mix of culture and compassion are illustrated through its relentless support of United Way of Eastern Maine. Bangor’s top charity aims to inspire positive change throughout the local community—and generate a ripple effect that impacts the entire state. United Way volunteers focus their efforts on education initiatives, income management and senior care. No matter which issues United Way works to improve, Bangor volunteers lead by example: the Maine mindset is “we” before “me.”
14. Denver, Colorado
Charity: The Colorado I Have A Dream Foundation
Colorado’s Mile High City certainly has a preoccupation with elevation. The capital city is actively working to raise the standard of living for its citizens—and the entire country. Denver’s top charity is the Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation (CIHADF), which helps at-risk youth lead lives without poverty, drugs, violence or crime. The intensive 12-year program provides mentoring relationships, personal enrichment, internship opportunities and academic assistance for its students. And the effects of the charity’s work are felt one life at a time. In nearly 25 years, the CIHAD foundation has supported and deeply impacted more than 630 students.
15. Great Falls, Montana
Charity: Special Olympics Montana
30 percent of Montana’s population actively volunteers, earning the Big Sky Country bragging rights as the nation’s 15th most charitable state. Its most charitable city, Great Falls, has a storied history—and based on its investment in community, a bright future. Great Falls volunteers are especially committed to Special Olympics Montana, an organization that empowers people with disabilities. Specifically, the organization focuses on providing physical fitness, sports training and athletic events for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities. With the help of countless volunteers and sponsors, 2,000 athletes compete in Olympic-style sports from snowboarding to basketball. These opportunities connect community members, help disabled individuals develop their skills and foster lifelong friendships between athletes.
16. Kansas City, Missouri
Charity: Veterans of Foreign Wars Foundation
Missourians have racked up an impressive 70.2 million hours of statewide service, and it’s largely due to Kansas City’s volunteers. The big city’s top charity works to improve the lives of veterans, active-duty military members and their families. By providing resources for long distance communication, assistance navigating complicated government claims, and financial grants for military families in need, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Foundation directly improves the lives of our soldiers at home and abroad. Best of all, the charity supports all branches of the military, at no cost to military members.
17. Richmond, Virginia
Charity: The Community Foundation Servicing Richmond and Central Virginia
Virginia is for lovers. And volunteers—2 million to be exact. The most charitable of these charity-lovers live in Richmond and are likely involved with The Community Foundation. This organization works to enhance the lives of its citizens by encouraging civic engagement and supporting charities that bring people of all ages, races and socioeconomic backgrounds together. The foundation connects Richmond residents with causes they care about to inspire philanthropy. By offering services to help locals decide where and what to give, The Community Foundation is helping hundreds find the best way to better their home state.
18. Bismarck, North Dakota
Charity: Delta Waterfowl Foundation
Bismarck’s top charity has been a fixture of North Dakota since 1911. The Delta Waterfowl Foundation works to support the state’s waterfowl population and educate Bismarck locals about duck hunting. From funding studies to improve waterfowl populations to positively influencing public policy, the organization works tirelessly to conserve duck habitats and uphold the tradition of responsible duck hunting. Fundraisers like community banquets, auctions and outdoor youth activities are meant to inspire future generations of waterfowl conservationists, ecologists and wildlife lovers.
19. Hartford, Connecticut
Charity: Greater Hartford Arts Council
Of Connecticut’s 65.4 million total service hours, 21 million were contributed by Hartford residents. The city’s top charity aims to unite its community through the love of art. And by coordinating, sponsoring and promoting hundreds of unique programs, the Greater Hartford Arts Council contributes directly to Hartford’s diverse culture. The council connects residents with relevant events and opportunities to fuel creativity, educate youth and provide experience for aspiring artists. Annual events like the Big Red for the Arts showcase bring Hartford’s top chefs, local artisans and community members together to celebrate art and its impact on their town.
20. Cheyenne, Wyoming
Charity: Boys & Girls Club of Cheyenne.
Since half of all Wyoming residents donate to charity each year, it’s unsurprising that Cheyenne has landed a spot in the top 20. The capital city’s #1 charity is the Boys & Girls Club of Cheyenne, a youth mentorship program that inspires kids from disadvantaged backgrounds reach their full potential. So far, Cheyenne contributors have made huge strides. According to a recent survey, 62 percent of Boys & Girls club alumni said the experience helped them commit to their education. 57 percent said it saved their life. Cheyenne’s charitable community is making an impact that can’t be overstated.
21. Baltimore, Maryland
Charity: Maryland Food Bank.
Maryland residents clock in an impressive 145 million hours of service per year. Baltimore alone is responsible for nearly half of that volunteer time, making it clear that the Jewel of Chesapeake County isn’t all crab shacks and microbreweries. This harbor-side city is leading the fight against hunger all across Maryland. Its top charity, the Maryland Food Bank, works to provide emergency meals for individuals and families, while pursuing long-term solutions to reduce hunger throughout the state. The organization’s noteworthy Farm to Foodbank program provides fresh food from a network of local farms to ensure nutritious meals for those in need.
22. Manchester, New Hampshire
Charity: Make-A-Wish Foundation of New Hampshire
Manchester, the heart of New England and the metropolitan center of New Hampshire, is the country’s 22nd most charitable city. Thanks to 27.8 percent of its residents, the city that’s already well-known for its history, industry and innovation can add another attribute to the list: generosity. The Make-A-Wish Foundation of New Hampshire helps grant the wishes of children facing life-threatening medical conditions. Volunteers and donors who contribute to Make-A-Wish transform the lives of children and families with support, hope, and smiles.
23. Indianapolis, Indiana
Charity: United Way of Central Indiana
Indianapolis residents contribute more than 50 million hours and 750 million dollars of service to their local community. The capital city’s top charity, United Way of Central Indiana, helps those in greatest need by bringing together organizations, businesses and volunteers to sponsor various programs. Reading programs prepare Central Indiana children to learn, leadership programs get youth involved in improving their community, and tax preparation services help families become financially stable. As the city grows and changes, United Way continues to innovate new methods to meet the community’s needs.
24. Detroit, Michigan
Charity: United Way for Southeastern Michigan
More than one fourth of all Metro Detroit residents volunteer. From the Greater Novi District to the Macomb County coast, Motown citizens contribute a remarkable 108 million hours of annual service to their community. These volunteers take a multifaceted approach to improving life in Michigan’s largest city, and their values are perhaps best exemplified by the city’s top charity. United Way for Southeastern Michigan aims to offer educational opportunities, satisfy basic needs and provide resources for financial stability to those in need. By helping to create conditions that foster success, United Way donors and volunteers have already affected positive changes that are making Detroit an even better place to call home.
25. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Charity: The Attic Youth Center
Metro Philly volunteers contribute 3.6 billion dollars of annual service to their community. The charity leading Philadelphia’s philanthropic charge is the Attic Youth Center, an organization that has grown from a weekly support group into a nationally-renowned community center for LGBTQ youth and allies. The Attic Youth Center is safe space where LGBTQ youth can find support, express their identities and participate in afterschool activities. Philadelphia residents’ contributions to this organization have produced a myriad of positive outcomes for the community’s LGBTQ youth: increased leadership capacity, improved literacy and study skills, and higher school attendance are just a few examples of the charity’s impact.
Making a statement
Each city’s top charity says a lot about the unique character of its residents—and the personality of their state as a whole. Local volunteers are the backbone of these organizations, but you don’t have to be a resident to contribute to the cause. The internet makes online donations possible, and these digital gifts power community involvement and improvement all across the country. Chalk one up for the World Wide Web!
Our ranking of the top 25 states is based on data obtained from volunteeringinamerica.gov. We found many of our top cities from the same site, and used the interactive map from philanthropy.com to fill in the gaps. Finally, we narrowed down the top charities operating in each city with information from charitynavigator.org.