MN Nice: State Ranks High In Volunteer Rate, Donations

Story by Rick Kupchella's

gallup charitable giving map

When it comes to giving, Minnesotans are among the most charitable in the country – especially when it comes to time.

That’s according to a new survey by Gallup, which found 53 percent of Minnesotans said they had volunteered time in the past month, the second highest number in the U.S.The survey also asked whether the individual had donated money in the past month. 66 percent of state residents said they had, which tied for ninth overall.

Combine the two questions together – have you both donated money and volunteered time in the past month? – and Minnesotans once again were No. 2, with 41 percent of respondents saying yes to both.

“Ask Three Times”

The proclivity for giving is kind of funny. Because even through Minnesotans are good at it, they’re not always very good at taking. Which makes the giving part is kind of awkward sometimes.

This has been described as the “Ask Three Times” cultural quirk that seems unique to Minnesota.

An assistant professor at Drake University, Cris Wildermuth, wrote about a friend from small town Minnesota.

“’Where I come from,’ Rich told us, ‘we always had to ask three times. Here is how this works: Suppose I offer to take you to the airport in the middle of the night. I say: Hey, would you like me to take you to the airport? You should never assume I really mean it… unless I ask again.’”

Rich said when he moved to Washington D.C., a friend mentioned he was taking a 5 a.m. flight. His Minnesota instinct kicked in and he offered a ride to the airport, expecting his friend to decline, as someone would back home. Instead the person jumped at the opportunity, and Rich gave his friend a very late ride.

Macalester student Ariel Estrella, who is from the east coast, wrote about her adjustment to the “Ask Three Times” rule. She wrote about an experience of offering candy to St. Paul friend.

“They said no, so I shrugged and went along eating. Judging by their reactions, I could tell they did want some, and after asking again, it turns out that they did. Through the following conversation, I learned then about the unspoken “offer three times, say no twice” ritual within Minnesota Nice. Apparently, it’s viewed as polite to refuse at first, which is why the person offering has to ask a few times.”

Utah Tops Minnesota

In the Gallup poll, Minnesota was bested only by Utah when it comes to volunteered time and combined charitable giving. 56 percent of Utah residents said yes to volunteering, while 48 percent aid yes to both volunteering and donating money. In addition, 71 percent of Utahans said they had donated money in the past month. The Beehive State ranked first in all three categories.

Gallup also notes people who rank better in studies of well-being tend to give back more. Of the most charitable states, all were above the national average for well-being. Minnesota ranked fourth overall on the most recent such index.

Here is the top tier of most-giving states, according to the Gallup poll. You can also click here to see how all 50 rank.

gallup charitable giving top 9

Local Social Experiment

Last year, a Minneapolis digital design agency conducted a give-or-take experiment on social media.

Space150 distributed cards that were worth ten dollars to the first 150 people who sent the company a tweet. Use the #give and the money is donated to a charitable cause (PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center). Use the #receive and space150 sends the ten bucks to you.

At the end, 92 percent of people chose to give the $10, while 8 percent of respondents chose to take it themselves.


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