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Residents Deliver for Local Charities

Report says state, Verona and Cedar Grove push New Jersey to number eight ranking for donations.


Rabbi Lawrence Groffman of Temple Sholom of West Essex in Cedar Grove realizes one of the reasons his temple is so successful is because of his congregation’s generosity.

“Our High Holiday campaign supports the overall day-to-day running of the temple,” Groffman said, “Our whole congregation is generous.”

A new study released Monday by The Chronicle of Philanthropy shows Essex County residents share Groffman’s assessment locally, countywide and statewide.

Charitable donations for non-profits and religious institutions in the state for 2008 ranked New Jersey in eighth place in the country, according to the report.

The report used IRS tax record for 2008, the most recent year data was available, to examine income levels and charitable donations made by taxpayers in each ZIP code.

The IRS releases figures for total amounts donated, but to protect privacy, the agency does not provide figures about the specific charities people supported.

Essex County ranked 62 out of 3,115 counties surveyed in the country with a median contribution of $2,712 per household and had total contributions for that year of $426.1 million, or 5.5 percent of resident’s total income, according to the report.

Bergen County residents were ranked 33rd out of the 3,115 counties surveyed with $680 million in total contributions that year. That figure breaks down to $2,413 per household or 4.6 percent of resident’s total income.

In Verona, Mayor Frank Sapienza lauded the donations report but also credited the township as being “a very generous community.”

Verona residents ranked 3,616 out of 28,725 towns for contributions, donating $11.1 million in 2008 with an average family contribution of $2,215.

People in Verona not only help when someone is in need, they also help in whatever capacity they can, he said.

“People help by volunteering,” Sapienza said, “We’re a family-oriented community and we always go out to help people” — if not monetarily then through meals.

Cedar Grove residents ranked 4,478 out of 28,725 towns for contributions, donating $9 million in 2008 with an average family contribution of $2,215.

Groffman said the congregation consists of a multi-generational group with many longstanding families, young families and older congregants.

Overall, charitable donations by New Jersey residents ranked eighth in the nation in 2008 with $4.5 billion, accounting for residents donating 3.7 percent of their annual income. In contrast, California finished in first place with $17.2 billion in charitable donations, with residents donating 4.4 percent of their annual income, while neighboring New York second place with $11.3 billion, accounting for 4.4 percent of resident’s annual income. North Dakota ranked last in the report with $163.5 million with residents donating 3.5 percent of their annual income.

“The donations vary by the individual,” Groffman said, but some people, he said, are philanthropically challenged by work and other economic hardships.

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