Macomb, Oakland counties ranked in top 10 most generous Michigan counties

Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published October 30, 2018

MACOMB COUNTY — Financial advisors SmartAsset recently released a study naming Macomb and Oakland counties in the top 10 most generous counties in Michigan.

The company looked at a variety of factors to see how much people in Michigan donated by county, and then ranked its findings.

“Oakland and Macomb counties each performed well in our metrics for donations as a percentage of income, and proportion of residents making charitable donations, which helped generate their top 10 rankings,” said SmartAsset Senior Public Relations Associate Steven Sabato. “Oakland had a score of 69.4 on the contributions as a percentage of population index, which was the highest in Michigan. Macomb ranked seventh on that same index, helping propel them into the top 10.”

SmartAsset officials did not want to speculate on why certain counties gave more than others, but given that donations are often higher with larger numbers of residents who make higher salaries, the economic stability of the respective counties was likely a factor.

SmartAsset then calculated an average for each county.

“We looked at two factors: how much people donate as a percentage of their net income, and the proportion of people in a given county who made charitable donations. Places that performed the best in those metrics ranked higher in the study,” Sabato explained. “We used data from the 2016 tax year to complete our study.”

Oakland County ranked second in generous Michigan counties with an index rating — the system SmartAsset created to look at the various factors — of 55.4 percent. About 69.4 percent of residents donated something in the time period looked at, which was the highest percentage by population in the state. Macomb County had an index rating of 40.8 percent, and 51.8 percent of people donated something.

The No. 1 spot went to Ottawa County, on the west side of the state, which also had an index rating of 55.4 percent, but was ranked higher than Oakland County due to people contributing larger donations. 

“To determine the amount that people donate as a percentage of their income, we first had to calculate people’s net income. To do this, we looked at tax return data and subtracted total taxes paid, mortgage interest, mortgage points and mortgage insurance payments from total income to get each county’s net income,” Sabato continued. “We then divided each county’s total charitable donations by its total net income to see how much county residents are donating relative to their income. Next, we took the total number of tax returns with charitable donations and divided them by the number of total tax returns for each county to get the proportion of people in each county who make charitable donations. We then indexed and equally weighted the two factors to yield our most charitable counties score.”

The Lighthouse Outreach Center of Roseville is a food bank on Gratiot Avenue south of 12 Mile Road in Roseville that serves about a grocery cart full of food to about 2,000 homes every month. Bruce Calderwood, the director of the center, said he believes the results of the study, but added that things can look differently from those on the ground in the fight against poverty.
“We are happy to help. … Most of our financial support comes from Oakland County and Wayne County. We get food from the Macomb Food Program and Focus: Hope in Wayne County,” said Calderwood “These facts sound correct; we get a lot of support through those programs, and there are several churches that donate to us and do it with joy. We are very thankful for the help we get, but the community itself doesn’t provide a lot of support to us directly.”
The staff at SmartAsset hope this study encourages people to reach out and help others.

“We hope readers can see this study and learn how their local county compares to those around it in terms of charitable giving,” Sabato said. “Folks who donate money will feel the individual impact, but this helps give it some more local and statewide context.”