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An Echo Press editorial: Generosity runs high in county

By the Echo Press Editorial Board

BackpackAttack 3509.jpg
Ernest Klennert, left, and Jim Phillips, both of Alexandria, pack bags with cereal, pudding, fruit cups and more during the local United Way Backpack Attack effort at Broadway Ballroom Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022.
Alexandria Echo Press file photo
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Here’s a bit of holiday cheer to close out the year.

A new study ranks Douglas County as the 10th most generous county in Minnesota.

In a recent study , SmartAsset dug into IRS data to find the places where residents were giving the most.

Out of Minnesota’s 87 counties, only nine were ranked higher than Douglas County – Carver, number one, followed by Hennepin, Washington, Scott, Dakota, Ramsey, Wright, Anoka and Olmsted.

It’s worth mentioning that only two of those in the top 10 – Olmsted (where Rochester, with a population of more than 121,000, is located) and Douglas.

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The rankings weren’t just thrown together. They were based on a detailed analysis.

The study measured how much people donate as a percentage of their net income and the proportion of people in each county who make charitable donations.

To determine the amount of money that people donate as a percentage of their income, SmartAsset first calculated the net income for everyone in each county. To do this, it looked at tax return data and accounted for federal, state and local taxes paid.

SmartAsset also accounted for deductible entries, including mortgage interest, mortgage points and mortgage insurance payments. It then divided each county's total charitable donations by its total net income to see the amount of money residents in each county have donated relative to their income.

Next, it measured the total number of individual tax returns that show charitable contributions and divided that by the total number of individual tax returns in each county. This provided a proportion of people in each county who make charitable donations.

SmartAsset then indexed and equally weighted the two factors to yield a Most Charitable Places Index.

Douglas County’s high ranking shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Time and time again, local residents and businesses have showed a spirit of generosity that goes above and beyond expectations – whether it’s donating to a good cause like “Fishing For the Cure” – a cancer fighting event that has raised more than $400,000 in donations since its start in 2007 – or the Jingle Bells Telethon that collected more than $100,000 this year, or whether it’s to worthy non-profit organizations such as United Way of Pope and Douglas County and its many programs – Backpack Attack, winter coat drive, food drops and more.

Douglas County’s generosity also shined brightly back in 2007-2009 when the YMCA started a campaign to build a facility in Alexandria – a $9 million undertaking that some believed wouldn’t succeed because of the Great Recession and a slow start to the fundraising. But the community defied the odds, boosted the fundraising efforts and put the project over the top. The Y broke ground in April, 2009 and has had expansions since then.

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We’re fortunate to live in an area that’s brimming with generosity, an area that tries to leave our tiny corner of the world a better place for generations to come.

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