Happy America Ranks High in Giving

The U.K based organization-Charities Aid Foundation recently

Source: CAF Online

published a report (pdf) using a Gallup survey on the charitable behavior of people in 153 countries (representing 95% of the world’s population). The U.S. ranks number five tied with Switzerland, and falls short by 2% from top notch Australia.  The survey is simple. It asks people which/if any of the following they have done in the past month:

  • Donated money to an organization?
  • Volunteered their time?
  • Helped a stranger, or someone in need of help?

In addition to assessing charitable behavior, CAF compared it to national GDP and the population’s wellbeing (as measured by Gallup’s question assessing how a person feels about their life). Interestingly, the link between happiness and giving is stronger than the link between wealth and giving, suggesting that “giving is a more emotional act, rather than a rational one.”

The U.S. with a happiness score of 7.2, showed generosity in all three aspects:  60% of Americans donated money to an organization; 39% volunteered their time; and 65%  helped a stranger. The report also highlights that age and gender affected generous behaviors. As the rest of the world, women in the U.S. give more than the men, and they are more involved in volunteering than men.

As a benchmark to improve global giving, the World Giving Index strives for countries to make better decisions in giving. CAFAmerica CEO Susan Saxon-Harrold mentioned: “Many countries at the bottom of the list benefit enormously from U.S. philanthropy. Our organization is helping U.S. donors give to some of those countries and it’s important that Americans continue to build-up indigenous philanthropy in countries such as China, Russia and India.”

CAF notes that appearing higher or lower on the list is not necessarily a reflection of health of a society or the goodwill of its people – a valid statement considering that the report does not assess how much people give or volunteer, only if they have done so recently. Notably, U.S. private philanthropy to  international development causes continues to grow,  reaching $36.9 billion in 2008 (see Index of Global Philanthropy and  Remittances).


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