There are all sorts of ways to measure generosity because the concept of giving means different things to different people.

In my more than three decades of calling South Dakota home, I have found the people here to be among the most selfless when it comes to looking out for the needs of others.

But this is also a part of the country that also holds fiscal responsibility in high regard, sometimes giving off the appearance of being frugal, miserly, cheap, or as one recent survey showed - downright stingy.

BestLife created their 'stingy index' to compare the giving in each of the 50 states.

To accomplish this they analyzed the Fraser Institute's Generosity Index, which ranked states by tax-declared donations to charity per capita. They also looked at a TSheets' survey of more than 10,000 service industry workers to determine which state was the best tipper. They then averaged holiday spending data from TitleMax and 24/7 Wall St. and calculated that as a percentage of disposable income per capita (using income data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis).

What they discovered did not paint the Mount Rushmore State in a very flattering light.

South Dakota's stingy index score of 78.34 is the sixth highest in the nation.

In a world where 20 percent is now considered the standard gratuity at a restaurant, our average of 16.53 percent fell well short. The best tippers in the country reside in Maine, which averages a tip of 19.36 percent.

The folks in Alaska hold down the dubious distinction of scoring a maximum 100 on BestLife's stingy index.


  1. Alaska
  2. North Dakota
  3. West Virginia
  4. Wyoming
  5. New Mexico
  6. South Dakota
  7. Tennessee
  8. Louisiana
  9. Oklahoma
  10. Washington

On the other end of the giving scale are the most generous states in the country, led by Utah, which checks in at a perfect zero on BestLife's stingy index.


  1. Utah
  2. Connecticut
  3. New Jersey
  4. Georgia
  5. Maryland
  6. Virginia
  7. Delaware
  8. Maine
  9. Rhode Island
  10. Massachusetts
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