I don’t know how many of you are old enough to remember Steve Martin in the movie “The Jerk” but there is a really funny scene where he explodes into exuberant jubilation when he realizes his name has “made” the phone book—he dances around and says, “The new phone book is here, I’m somebody now!”. I kind of get that same feeling when we publish the most generous cities list every year. I wait impatiently like a kid on Christmas to see who’s coming out on top.
This year’s winner, Seattle, has a long tradition on our list, but never in the pole position. Ironically, as I was flying earlier this month there was a big article in the Airline magazine about the “philanthropy web” in Seattle—mostly rooted in , yes, you guessed it, former (and a few current) Microsoft employees. So what makes Seattle (and neighboring Bellevue at #9) our big winner?
Well, it isn’t more philanthropic in general. The Washington DC metro area far outpaces them in terms of overall philanthropy (online and otherwise). Salt Lake City, UT outpaces every other city in America with a whopping 68% of households that give.
So what is Seattle’s secret?
It’s one of the most wired cities in America. And although it fell from its 2009 #1 Wired position to #3 in 2010, it still ranks #1 in two of three categories:
- It has the highest percentage of homes that are accessing the internet via high speed broadband at 4%
- It has the highest number of broadband service providers at 13 (apparently they like choice in their broadband providers in Seattle)
In the final category, highest number of wi-fi spots per capita, Seattle ranks 3rd at 7 per person. After losing its #1 ranking in 2009, I am sure they are throwing up new Starbucks locations like crazy. In order to catch Atlanta in this ranking, they will need to get to 16 wi-fi hot spots per person. That’s a lot of Starbucks.
While our ranking doesn’t exactly map to America’s Most Wired Cities, there is definitely correlation. The Washington DC metro area makes both rankings with DC, Alexandria and Arlington on our list, as does the San Francisco Bay Area with Berkeley and San Francisco, also both on our list. These communities may not give more in total, but they definitely give more on line. Perhaps it’s their “wired” nature? I suspect these same places also pay more bills online and buy more goods and services over the internet, but I haven’t seen those statistics.
Can’t quite figure out how St. Louis, Missouri snuck in there, but I’ll have to ask Gene Austin, our CEO who hails from there. I am sure he has a theory on that.