The United States is the most generous country in the world over the past decade. Why? Because Americans donate a lot of money. In 2017 alone, Americans have donated $27.7 billion. This amount of donation was more than the entire GDP of more than 40 countries in the world.
For some people, this amount isn’t impressive, considering that America is a rich country, and Americans simply afford to be generous. One would think that if people around the world can give more, they would.
However, generosity isn’t just measured by how much money was given. The World Giving Index by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), a UK non-profit organization, has been ranking 128 countries about acts of generosity in these three areas: donating money to charity, volunteering time to help an organization, and helping a stranger.
The USA is followed by Myanmar and New Zealand in the World Giving Index 2019. The top countries represent a wide range of levels of wealth, cultures, geographies, and religions. There’s no one trait that points to a country’s generosity – the top countries are a mix of both the wealthy and the much less affluent.
Here are the most generous countries in the world:
- United States
The United States has been the most generous country in the world, as it reached an overall score of 58% in the World Giving Index. Around 72% of Americans helped a stranger, 61% donated money, and 42% volunteered their time, ensuring a top position for the country. According to a 2019 Giving USA report, Americans donated about $427.7 billion to charity in 2018 alone. Despite a record-low unemployment rate, 56% of Americans say that income constraints keep them from giving more. About 71% said that debt prevents them from donating as much as they would like.
Myanmar takes the first place when it comes to donating money to charity. Over the past decade, 81% of the people surveyed in Myanmar said they had donated their wealth. But the amazing thing about Myanmar is that it’s classified as a lower-middle-income country by the World Bank, confounding traditional assumptions that link generosity to wealth. The CAF attributes the citizen’s generosity to the high number of Buddhists in Myanmar. However, political and social crisis in the country has become more difficult in recent years, as its Rohingya minority continues to be persecuted as it struggles with poverty and lack of access to citizen rights.
- New Zealand
New Zealanders are very generous, as it is the only country to be listed in the top 10 of all three giving categories. About 64% of people have said to have helped strangers, 65% donated their money, and 41% volunteered for the charity.
During the first World Giving Index, Australia tied with New Zealand in the first place as the most generous country in the world. After ten years, Australia and New Zealand remained as one of the most generous countries in the world.
Ireland is the most generous country in Europe. While the country peaked in 2012 and 2014, it reached its lowest score in 2017. Over the past decade, 56% of the Irish population has donated money, helped others, or given time to charity.
Canada is one of the strong performers in the World Giving Index for ten years. The country’s generosity peaked at 60% in 2014 and 2015, but since then, it followed a downward trend. Canadians are generous with donating money to charity and offering help to other people. It’s pretty much expected of them since Canadians are known as nice and kind people.
- United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is the second most generous European country, and it’s also one of the kindest ones when it comes to donations – taking the second spot in that category. Over the past decade, about 71% of people surveyed had given money to charity in the last four weeks before being interviewed. This giving behavior reflects the philanthropic tradition of the country. On average, people in the UK donate $710 a year.
The Dutch are particularly generous in donating money to charity, which is most likely caused by religious giving. Over half of the population participates in at least one of the three categories. The generosity of people in the Netherlands peaked at 56% in 2015 but has been declining ever since.
- Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is the second most generous country in Asia. Like Myanmar, it also has a lower-middle-income economy. Compared with other countries who are generous with their money, Sri Lankans are generous with their time, as volunteering for a charity is popular in the country. It ranks as No. 1 in this aspect, as 45% of the population volunteers. Sri Lanka has a high population of Theravada Buddhists, a branch of Buddhism that mandates giving.
While other countries are following a downward trend in generosity, Indonesia is the only country in the top 10 to have improved its score significantly over the past years. The country was ranked in 50th place in 2010 and climbed its way to the top. Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population, and religious giving is common. The Islamic practice of “zakat,” which means religious giving for charitable causes, is linked to Indonesia’s high generosity.
- United States