Philanthropy & volunteerism

Updated 7/20/19

Volunteer labor and contributions are all measures of social responsibility and community improvement efforts, although local data is limited. The Urban Institute, National Center for Charitable Statistics reports on IRS charitable giving by states. Nevada has at times surpassed the national average itemized charitable contributions (AICC) and increased charitable giving as a percentage of income. Washoe County average itemized contributions were $3,324 in comparison to $2,785 for Nevada in 1997; Washoe County increased to $3,999 in 2006 averaging more than the state.

In TMT’s December 2007 community survey of Washoe County residents, 12.8% responded that they did not donate to nonprofit organizations, however, 50.2% donated to 1-4 nonprofits, 20.4% donated to 5-10, and 8.8% donated to 11 or more nonprofits, and 28.6% donated to local nonprofits.


  • AAGI = average adjusted gross income
  • AICC = average itemized charitablecontribution
  • GI = Generosity Index; GI starting 2005 may not be comparable to earlier years
  • NCCS began changing data formats & archived data after 2013; new open platform not yet released (as of 7/19); 2014 & forward reporting via the Frasier Institute & the St. Louis Fed for AAGI; data may not be comparable to prior years
  • The Catalogue for Philanthropy calculated the Generosity Index (GI) using IRS data on annual average gross income (AAGI) and average itemized charitable contribution (AICC) through 2004. The Catalogue now calculates an Opportunity Index (OI) looking at high-income states and giving according to state ranks. The new index looks at philanthropy from the perspective of whether those in the highest income groups (over $500,000) utilize their opportunity to give more. Nevada’s average itemized charitable contribution on the OI in 2005 ($39,893) ranked 6th in the nation, but the average adjusted gross income ($873,153) ranked the 2nd highest, which implies that Nevadan’s with high incomes can give more (Nevada’s percentage of itemization of charitable contributions is only 79% for 2005).
  • The Giving USA reports published by the Giving USA Foundation have reported that individual giving is mostly to religious organizations. The Foundation Center’s “Highlights of Foundation Giving Trends,” February 2009 reported the following giving: independent foundations primarily to health, environmental, international affairs, science, and social science organizations; corporate foundations to public affairs/society benefit; and community foundations to education, human services, arts and culture, and religion.

According to the “Volunteering in America” reports by the Corporation for National & Community Service, Nevada ranked 50th among states with the lowest volunteer rate in 2011, moving up to 49th starting 2012-14; which continued in the 2018 report.  Nationally, over one-third of volunteers focus their efforts on religious activities.  In the 2018 report, Nevadans reported almost one-third of their 2017 volunteerism to mentoring, tutoring or fundraising , much of which could also be for religious purposes.

Although individual year statistics are not yet available for mid-sized cities such as Reno, the averaged years rate has declined as Reno’s economy has improved. The good news for the Truckee Meadows area—average volunteer hours per resident 2007-2009 for Reno was 45.2, but increased significantly 2007-10 to 60.0, ranking Reno 4th within the 75 mid-size cities, although Reno slipped to 9th in the 2012 report. This increase may be correlated to continuing high unemployment allowing those who volunteer, to volunteer more hours;  although this would go against national trends.  The main volunteer activity in Reno continues to be fundraising at 22.0% for religious and education organizations.

Tracking community volunteerism is a challenging task as thousands of local residents regularly volunteer their time and effort to all sorts of organizations—nonprofits, faith-based, educational institutions, and human services organizations. In TMT’s December 2007 community survey of Washoe County residents, 50.8% responded that they volunteered for a nonprofit organization in the past year vs. 47.6% who had not volunteered. Of those volunteering, 18.6% reported volunteering 11 or more hours in the past year; 11.8% volunteered 5-10 hours; and 17.2% volunteered 1-4 hours.


  • Rates are averaged over 3 years;  mid-sized cites could be averaged over 4 years


The Urban Institute, Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, National Center for Charitable Statistics;

Catalogue for Philanthropy;

The Frasier Institute

Corporation for National & Community Service

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