How 'Generous' Is San Francisco? No. 13 Nationally, According to List.

If only San Francisco could harness the kinetic energy generated by tens of thousands of coins being shaken in thousands of pan-handlers' cups -- we could power this city and sell off the surplus and re-invest it in coins in cups.

To our knowledge, there's no accurate measure of how much loose cash is handed to those lobbying for it within city limits (if so, we'd love to see it). But we do know how much money San Franciscans donated electronically with benevolent intentions -- and we rank decently compared to our fellow Americans.

The technology company Convio -- which creates software for nonprofits with an eye on fund-raising -- has released its 2009 list of "Most Generous Cities." Yes, it's something of an hyperbolic title -- the company estimates its software serves as a conduit for some 10 percent of the nation's online charitable giving. That's a lot of money -- some $921 million yearly -- but 90 percent of the funds are still unaccounted for in these rankings. Also, Convio's list doesn't take into account government funding of nonprofits (we give nearly half a billion to them here in San Francisco -- which is something of a mixed bag). Be that as it may, we rank 13th out of 278 cities of 100,000 or more (last place: Brownsville, Texas).

Convio spokesman Tad Druart noted that the Humane Society, Feeding America food banks, the American Red Cross, and the Susan G. Komen Foundation all use his company's software here in San Francisco. It's donations to organizations like these being tracked for these rankings.

So, how'd we do? In 2009, San Franciscans made 86,045 online donations totaling $7.48 million. This gives San Francisco, a city of 808,000 a "Donation Per 1,000 residents" tally of $9,242. That's good enough for 13th; just ahead of Atlanta and just behind Austin.

The No. 1 spot on the poll belongs to Alexandria, Va. -- a city of 143,000 that gave around 2.9 million. Nos. 2 through 11, incidentally, are: Cambridge, Mass.; Arlington, Va.; Washington, D.C.; Minneapolis; Seattle; Berkeley -- California's top giver, proportionately; St. Louis; Bellevue, Wash.; and Ann Arbor, Mich. Then Austin. And then us.

You can read the entire list here: Most Generous List.xlsx

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