Beltway of Giving: Giving by the Numbers



Washingtonians may fancy themselves some of the most charitable individuals in the country and now they have the stats to back them up. D.C.-based Chronicle of Philanthropy’s recently released the “How America Gives” study analyzing the charitable giving patterns within the United States.

The data examined itemized tax returns filed with the Internal Revenue Service in 2008, the most recent year for which data are available, for individuals making more than $50,000 per year. More than one million itemized tax returns were included in the analysis of the Washington metropolitan area, placing the region 4th nationwide for a total giving contribution of $4.3 billion.

Not surprisingly, several of the region’s most affluent zip codes topped the list, including Potomac, Maryland (20854), followed by Chevy Chase, Maryland (20815), McLean, Virginia (22101), Bethesda, Maryland (20817), Washington, D.C. (20016) and (20008), Fort Washington, Maryland (20744), McLean, Virginia (22102), and Upper Marlboro, Maryland (20774 and 20772).

The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, a tax-exempt, public charity made up of charitable giving funds established by individuals, families, corporations and other organizations currently manages more than 800 donor funds with assets totaling more than $360 million. Terri Lee Freeman, president of the Community Foundation, asserts a majority of individual donors in the region focus their dollars on higher education, K-12 education and human services. “I think many folks are interested in making sure that their philanthropy is personally rewarding and beneficial to the larger community….There are a growing number of philanthropists far more interested in solutions to problems than simply plugging the dyke.”

Potomac resident June Hess attributes her long-term individual giving patterns to life circumstances. “Having been very fortunate in my life it’s very important to give back to those who need,” said Hess. “I’ve always been surrounded by loving family and friends [and] I like to support women and children that are in financially, physically and emotionally abused circumstances.”

The Chronicle report also found that while Potomac may be one of the most affluent zip codes in the area and lead the pack in contributions, low-to-middle income communities in the region were more inclined to give a higher percentage of their discretionary income to charity. In fact, District Heights, Maryland (20753) ranked number one in the region, followed by Hyattsville, Maryland (20787), Washington D.C. (20030 and 20019), Capitol Heights, Maryland (20791), Washington, D.C. (20032), Capitol Heights, Maryland (20743), Suitland, Maryland (20746), District Heights, Maryland (20747) and Temple Hills, Maryland (20757). Important to note is the total contribution amount and number of itemized tax returns analyzed by the Chronicle for these zip codes was significantly smaller.

“I really don’t see any difference by jurisdiction in the issue-areas for giving. Years ago we could look to the suburban jurisdictions and really view them as bedroom communities of privilege,” says Freeman. “That is no longer an accurate description. I can’t think of any jurisdiction that isn’t in some way touched by an education gap and wealth gap within their population.”

Learn more about the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region at and find out how your zip code ranks in the Chronicle of Philanthropy report [here](

Jade Floyd serves on the board of directors for the D.C. Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative and Project Create. She is a frequent volunteer and host of fundraising events across the District, supporting arts, animal welfare and education programs.

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