When I reached the age of senior discounts, I wondered whether I should accept them. Because others likely have greater need for this generosity, it has become my practice to take the discount, collect these bits of change or occasional dollars that I would have paid absent the discount, and then contribute my windfall to the Interfaith Council on my birthday, a nice little bonus to our family’s philanthropic commitments. I enjoy sharing my thinking with cashiers and invariably it brings a smile to their faces. These smiles make me think about charitable giving in our community.

Recently the Chronicle of Philanthropy published a landmark study, including an interactive database, of charitable giving across the U.S. in 2012. Did you know that those with incomes greater than $50,000 donated 4.7% of their income to charity? Charlotte residents contributed 5.8% of their income, earning them sixth place among the 50 largest U.S. cities. Orange County and our neighbors in Durham paint a striking picture. In Orange County the median discretionary income was $73,000 and we donated 4.6% of that income to charity, less than the national median. For Durham residents, the median income was a more modest $50,000 and yet they more generously donated 6.1% of their income to charity. Think about this for a minute. The income in Durham is nearly 30% less than the income in Orange County and yet our neighbors to the east contributed nearly a third more of their income to charity. This bears repeating. Durham residents earned a third less in income, but contributed a third more to charity.

Just imagine all the good that could be done, if the median contribution in the WCHL listening area matched the 6.1% given by Durham residents. Go to Chapelboro.com to learn about the many organizations and causes in our community alone that would benefit from these gifts. Talk to your friends about why you give, where you give, and discuss how Orange County can become a more generous player in the philanthropic world.