More donors supporting human services causes post-pandemic than ever before, with twice as many cities citing this as a No. 1 priority, Fidelity Charitable study finds

BOSTON, June 6, 2023—The giving habits in many U.S. cities have changed post-pandemic, with more donors giving to human services organizations and many regional giving patterns shifting, according to the 2023 Geography of Giving report released today by Fidelity Charitable®, an independent public charity and the nation’s largest grantmaker.

The report compares geographic giving trends in 30 U.S. cities from the most recent pre-pandemic year of 2019 to 2022, when the world began to emerge from COVID-19. It also explores the percentage of grant dollars that donors recommended to nonprofits located in their own communities. Notably, on average, 4 out of every 5 donor accounts in the top 30 cities supported nonprofits based in their local areas. The report also pinpoints regional shifts in giving priorities, including the emergence of human services as the new most popular charitable sector in a majority of cities analyzed in the study. 

Human services rises to become the most popular charitable cause   

In multiple regions, donors increased grant recommendations for charities like food banks, homeless shelters, and youth programs, making human services the most commonly supported cause area in the majority of Fidelity Charitable’s top 30 cities. In 2022, human services ranked as the No. 1 priority in 16 cities, doubling its prevalence from 2019 when it ranked No. 1 in eight cities. The trend toward human services followed geographic lines: Seven of the 8 cities where human services became the new top sector in 2022 are located on the East and West coasts. In 6 of these 8 cities, the most popular sector previously was education. Religion—the previous No. 1 charitable sector in 2019—was still highly popular among donors, ranking as the most commonly supported cause area in 12 of 18 cities across the central and southern U.S.

“So much of the giving that happens in this country is influenced locally by the communities where people live, work, and pray,” said Jacob Pruitt, president of Fidelity Charitable. “By looking at the more than 2 million donor-recommended grants we made in 2022 through the lens of the communities where our donors live, we can help jump-start conversations about giving priorities and creating local impact.”

During 2022, Fidelity Charitable donors recommended a total of $11.2 billion in grant funding to 189,000 unique charities in every state and across the world.

New rankings: Top cities for giving 

City rankings by local charity support 

On average across the top 30 cities, 4 out of every 5 donors recommended at least one grant to a nonprofit located in their metro area. Due to the prevalence of donors supporting local nonprofits, the study analyzed the percentage of grant dollars sent to local nonprofits—rather than proportion of donors recommending grants—to measure local charity support. St. Louis and Salt Lake City held steady from 2019 as the top two cities where local donors recommended the highest percentage of grant dollars to nonprofits located in their own communities. Cities in the Midwest were well represented in the rankings, with St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Milwaukee claiming 3 of the top 5 spots. Baltimore and San Diego entered the list at No. 7 and No. 10, respectively.  

#1 – St. Louis (—)
#2 – Salt Lake City (—)
#3 – Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta (+4)
#4 – Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis (—)
#5 – Cincinnati-Middletown (+4)
#7 – Baltimore-Towson (New)
#10 – San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos (New)

City rankings by charitable cause area  

The study ranks 30 U.S. metro areas based on the proportion of local donors who recommended grants to nonprofits in the following categories: arts and culture, education, environment and animals, health, human services, international affairs, religion, and society benefit.

Arts and culture

The rankings for giving to arts and culture charities, including museums, arts organizations, and public broadcasting, remained largely steady from 2019, with Boston and San Francisco claiming the top two spots in 2022. Minneapolis, with its thriving visual arts community, entered the top 10 list at No. 9. 

#1 – Boston-Cambridge-Quincy (—)
#2 – San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont (+2)
#3 – Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton (-1)
#4 – Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington (New)


Seven of the top 10 cities for education giving, including to schools, universities, literacy initiatives, after-school programs, and libraries, maintained their same positions in 2022 from 2019. There was only one newcomer to the list: Miami, which entered the rankings at No. 10. 

#1 – Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk (—)
#2 – Boston-Cambridge-Quincy (—)
#3 – San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont (—)
#10 – Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach (New)

Environment and animals

Support for environment and animal charities held even in 2022, with donors recommending grants to a range of nonprofits, including water conservation organizations, zoos, and animal shelters. Notably, Philadelphia and St. Louis joined the list as newcomers for 2022.

#1 – Boston-Cambridge-Quincy (—)
#2 – Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton (+1)
#3 – San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont (-1)
#9 – Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington (New)
#10 – St. Louis (New)


The three top-ranked cities for giving to health charities in 2019—Boston, Bridgeport, and Miami—remained atop the rankings in 2022, with donors in these areas showing strong support for hospitals, medical research, and health treatment programs. While the top of the rankings remained unchanged from 2019, three metro areas were new to the list in 2022: Cleveland, Detroit, and Baltimore. 

#1 – Boston-Cambridge-Quincy (—)
#2 – Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk (—)
#3 – Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach (—)
#4 – Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor (New)
#6 – Detroit-Warren-Livonia (New)
#7 – Baltimore-Towson (New)

Human services

Cleveland claimed the new No. 1 ranking for percentage of donors who recommended grants to human services charities, the most popular charitable sector among Fidelity Charitable donors nationwide. Baltimore newly entered the rankings at No. 7. 

#1 – Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor (+2)
#2 – Boston-Cambridge-Quincy (-1)
#3 – Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk (-1)
#7 – Baltimore-Towson (New)

International affairs

Washington, D.C.—the country’s metropolitan center for global affairs—maintained its top ranking from 2019. Seattle, Boston, Baltimore, and San Diego—all metro areas with globally diverse populations—either climbed or newly appeared in the rankings. 

#1 – Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria (—)
#2 – San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara (—)
#3 – New York City-Northern New Jersey-Long Island (—)
#4 – Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue (+5)
#7 – Boston-Cambridge-Quincy (New)
#8 – Baltimore-Towson (New)
#9 – San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos (New)


City rankings in the religion sector demonstrated significant year-to-year consistency, with all cities on the top 10 list from 2019 reappearing in the rankings for 2022. Although there were no newcomers to the list this year, Indianapolis climbed four spots to claim its new No. 1 ranking.  

#1 – Indianapolis-Carmel (+4)
#2 – Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown (+1)
#3 – Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington (-2)
#5 – Detroit-Warren-Livonia (+4)
#8 – Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta (+2)

Society benefit

Top-ranked Miami maintained its No. 1 ranking from 2019 as a consistent supporter of nonprofits focused on civil rights, community improvement, social advocacy, and volunteerism. Cleveland and Milwaukee both moved into the rankings at eighth and ninth place, respectively.

#1 – Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach (—)
#2 – New York City-Northern New Jersey-Long Island (+1)
#3 – Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk (-1)
#8 – Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor (New)
#9 – Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis (New)


For more information, view the full report here.

About Fidelity Charitable

Fidelity Charitable is an independent public charity that has helped donors support more than 382,000 nonprofit organizations with nearly $73 billion in grants. Established in 1991, Fidelity Charitable is rooted in innovation, from its launch of the first national donor-advised fund program to its facilitation of difficult-to-donate assets to its tech-forward giving platform. The mission of the organization is to grow the American tradition of philanthropy by providing programs that make charitable giving accessible, simple, and effective. For more information about Fidelity Charitable, visit

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