Religion plays a major role in how much money Americans give to charity. The parts of the country that tend to be more religious are also more generous.
Donors in Southern states, for instance, give roughly 5.2 percent of their discretionary income to charity—both to religious and to secular groups—compared with donors in the Northeast, who give 4.0 percent.
But the generosity ranking changes when religion is taken out of the picture. People in the Northeast give the most, providing 1.4 percent of their discretionary income to secular charities, compared with those in the South, who give 0.9 percent.