Americans are well-known for their generosity. But when you compare the charitable giving in the United States to other nations, one country comes out on top, and it’s not America.
This might surprise you: The most generous country in the world is Myanmar, according to a new report by U.K.-based Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), an international nonprofit organization.
The United States and Myanmar — formerly called Burma, it is beginning to emerge from decades of profound poverty and isolation — shared first place charitable giving honors last year. But the Southeast Asian country surpassed the United States in this year’s giving index, as more Myanmar residents reported donating money to charity in 2014 than in 2013.
“The CAF World Giving Index continually confounds any attempts to define what it is that makes a country generous,” said CAF chief executive John Low in a statement. “Some might expect to see the culture of giving being greatest among the wealthiest nations but, as this year’s report shows, the reality can often be quite the opposite.
The CAF said Myanmar’s strong culture of Theravada Buddhism is the driving force behind its high levels of giving, with 92 percent of Myanmar residents donating money and 50 percent volunteering their time.
“The majority of Myanmarese people are highly devout Theravada Buddhists, regularly giving money and time to ordained monks and nuns, and for the upkeep of temples,” the report concluded.
Myanmar earned an overall score of 66 percent on the giving index, which means that 66 percent of Myanmar’s residents have helped a stranger, given money to charity or volunteered their time in the past year. The United States earned a score of 61 percent.
The CAF’s world giving index, now in its sixth year, is based on survey data for 145 countries compiled by Gallup. The generosity score is based on the number of people who give, not the dollar amount.
According to the CAF, the top 10 most generous countries in the world are:
- United States
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- Sri Lanka
Globally, the CAF said more than 1.4 billion people donated money to charity in 2014, which is an increase from 2013.
“The world is becoming a more generous place,” Low said. “It is heartening to see that, even during these times of economic uncertainty across the world, people are increasingly likely to donate money to causes to help others.”
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