• January 25, 2015

U.S. Ranks Fifth in New Global Survey on Giving

The United States tied for fifth place with Switzerland in a new survey on giving habits in 153 countries, with Australia and New Zealand taking the top spots.

The "World Giving Index 2010"—prepared by Charities Aid Foundation, a British charitable financial-services organization—found that 60 percent of Americans had donated money to an organization, 39 percent had volunteered their time to an organization, and 65 percent had helped a stranger in the previous month.

A country's overall ranking is based on the average score of those three categories, based on data collected by Gallup's WorldView World Poll in March 2010. Giving money or time to an organization could include political parties or groups as well as charities, the report said.

Australia and New Zealand tied for first place, with a score of 57 percent, followed by Canada and Ireland, which each earned 56 percent. While the United States did well overall, at 55 percent, it was not tops in any individual category. Malta ranked first in giving money (83 percent), Turkmenistan in volunteering time (61 percent), and Liberia in helping strangers (76 percent).

"No one should take a critical view of the U.S. fifth place rank in this report," Janet Boyd, president of Charities Aid Foundation America, in Alexandria, Va., said in a statement. "But that also does not mean that we should be complacent as a nation when there is so much more that can be done."

The index shows a wide variety of giving patterns. While many Liberians helped strangers, for example, only 8 percent donated money. The report notes that the growth of civil society has been impeded by war, famine, and disease in many countries.

Globally, helping strangers was the main form of giving. Forty-five percent of the world's population did that in the previous month, compared with 30 percent who gave money and 20 percent who volunteered.

The researchers also examined whether giving was tied more to wealth or happiness—and happiness won. They found that the percentage of people who give correlates more with countries whose populations are more satisfied (according to a Gallup survey) than with countries with high gross domestic products.




1. mlinnovations - September 13, 2010 at 04:08 pm

While the article about how the U.S.A. ranks in giving is somewhat interesting, it is of no real value other than to start some discussions. So, while not worthless, the rankings are nearly so. The problem is determining what should and should not be counted or examined. If I'm a country whose citizens universally help little old ladies across the street, the ranking system used in the study could call my country more giving than a country that is actually more generous with the checkbook. Would that be a meaningful analysis of giving? It would have been interesting to see stats on actual dollar giving as a percentage of GDP. But, even that would not tell the whole story. For example, the government of Sweden spends an enormous amount of money on social welfare programs that, in the U.S.A. might be funded through private donations. Since Sweden is a democracy and the government freely represents its citizens' will, should those government expenditures be counted when considering the issue of national "giving"? To properly evaluate national giving, it would seem to me that one would need to also include government spending on social welfare (areas that may be funded by government or private support in other nations).

On of my major frustrations as a development professional has been that as the nonprofit sector has grown and professionalized, giving as a percentage of GDP in the U.S. has not really changed, remaining at about 2 percent. So, what can we do to increase philanthropy? I believe that one major move that nonprofit organizations can make is to get more proactive with planned giving. Among Americans over age 30, only 22% (Stelter study) say they have been approached to make a planned gift!!! The average bequest gift in the U.S. is $35,000 to $40,000. So, a very modest increase in planned giving could have a dramatic impact on overall philanthropy. Planned giving is the major gift of the middle class. In my new book, "Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing," I've outlined a number of marketing strategies that can help the nonprofit sector implement and enhance planned giving programs. For more information, one can visit www.mlinnovations.com/books.

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