• Memphis, Tennessee ranked as the most charitable city in the United States, according to a new study from the Chronicle of Philanthropy
  • On average, people in Memphis give 5.6% of their incomes to philanthropy.
  • The study notes that the city’s ranking was spurred by a large number of donations to public schools, including from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in the past decade.

November 28 is Giving Tuesday, a holiday that follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday – shopping events when Americans spend billions of dollars. The goal of Giving Tuesday, on the other hand, is to encourage people to donate money to charities.

Some cities may give more than others this year. According to a new study from the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Memphis, Tennessee is the most charitable city in the United States for 2017.

The Chronicle, a magazine that covers the nonprofit industry, found that the average Memphis resident gives 5.6% of their income to charity. In recent years, the city has used donations to improve Overton Square, maintain Beale Street for tourism, extend the Green Line bike trail, renovate Shelby Farms park, and complete Big River Crossing, a boardwalk over the Mississippi River.

Southern cities rooted in church philanthropy, like Birmingham and Atlanta, also led the ranking. Memphis is the top city largely due to local family donations to public schools, spurred by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s $90 million grant to Memphis’ education system in 2009.

Over the last decade, the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis - a local organization that includes 800 families - has increased nearly 50% in asset size to $430 million, Robert Fockler, president of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, told The Commercial Appeal.

The donations to public schools keep coming despite the fact that many wealthy families attend expensive private schools in the area, he added.

"What happened here among these privileged families was the realization that if we're going to make this city better, we have to invest in Memphis," Fockler said.