Gazette Editorial Board
Whether it’s being healthy or volunteering, anything less than No. 1 in the nation isn’t good enough for Gov. Terry Branstad.
Branstad last year launched a campaign with a goal of Iowa becoming the healthiest state in the nation by 2016, up from 16th, as measured by Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. On Monday, the governor announced public support for another initiative driven by the private sector: “Volunteer Iowa: A call to service.”
Unsurprisingly, Iowa already ranks No. 2 in volunteerism, says Volunteering in America. About 38 percent of Iowans helped others in 2010. The governor and others say we can and should do better because, like being healthier, there are benefits. Iowans average 34 hours of volunteer time a year, but if raised to 50 hours, the state’s non-profits could be $1 billion more effective.
At the same time, we’re curious about an item reported Friday by The Gazette: In terms of money donated to non-profits, Iowa ranks 33rd (Chronicle of Philanthophy).
That seems incongruous, given that being generous with one’s time usually accompanies financial generosity for causes people support.
Or maybe not.
The money rating is based on income tax filings for Iowans with incomes of at least $50,000 and who itemize deductions. Because the Iowa median income is $38,000 and many filers don’t itemize, our state’s low ranking in donations may be misleading. Also, Iowa ranks 43rd in wage level (U.S. Department of Labor). Maybe we donate at a rate higher than our incomes might suggest.
Ratings don’t always account for all relevant factors. Still, we know Iowans as a generous people. We hope and expect many will answer the call to step up their service to others. Check out this initiative at www.volunteeriowa.org, or call (800) 308-5987
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