But on lists that really matter, Birmingham often excels.
In fact, I could have titled this piece, “Atlanta is jealous of Birmingham” or “Chicago is jealous of Birmingham.”
Cities all over the U.S. want to be like us.
If you don’t believe me, just ask our United Way.
Birmingham’s the 49th largest metro, yet our United Way de Tocqueville Society is the 2nd largest in the U.S. De Tocqueville members contribute a minimum of $10,000 a year to our United Way campaign. That’s not per capita—that’s 2nd in real numbers.
We have more people donating at least $10,000 a year than Philadelphia, Los Angeles, or even New York. That doesn’t seem possible.
Here’s the 2011 de Tocqueville Campaign list from United Way of America.
3. St. Louis
6. Twin Cities
Caroline Bolvig, VP of Major Gifts at United Way, told me folks in other cities are in total disbelief when they hear Birmingham’s listed in the top ten.
But our Birmingham generosity story gets better. It’s unprecedented, but our United Way has made its campaign goal every year since 1934. (Almost 80 years ago).
You might think we appear generous because we have such a great United Way. Well, our United Way of Central Alabama is one of the highest rated public charities in America, but our generosity is much broader than that.
According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Birmingham is the third most generous of our 50 largest U.S. metros.
I think we would agree that generosity and caring people are top measures of a community’s quality of life.
United Way’s Bolvig told me she is covered up with visitors and callers wanting to know how Birmingham does it.
I asked her how she responds.
She tells them that for cities to be like Birmingham they would have to be Birmingham.
Now that should make us feel good.
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David Sher is a co-founder of Buzz12 Advertising and co-CEO of AmSher Receivables Management. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham)), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).