IMPACT

Americans Are Really Generous, But They Have Some Stiff Competition: Study

While a booming economy certainly helps, it’s hardly required in order to become one of the most generous nations in the world, a new study has proven.

The U.S. and Myanmar tied for first place for the country that gave the most last year, according to the 2014 World Giving Index. And just five countries that made it to the top 20 are members of the G20 -- the world’s largest economies -- according to the report, which was released Tuesday by Charitable Aid Foundation America (CAF).

To get a well-rounded perspective on people’s giving patterns, respondents were asked if they donated money, volunteered with an organization or helped a stranger in the past month and the answers were averaged to determine a final score. The report was based on Gallup data collected across 135 countries.

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  • 10 No. 10 Malaysia
    Malaysia was one of the countries to see the most improvement. There, 62 percent said they helped a stranger and 58 percent d
    MOHD RASFAN via Getty Images
    Malaysia was one of the countries to see the most improvement. There, 62 percent said they helped a stranger and 58 percent donated money to charity. 
  • 9 No. 9 Ireland
    In Ireland, 67 percent of people donated money to charity and 59 percent helped a stranger. 
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    In Ireland, 67 percent of people donated money to charity and 59 percent helped a stranger. 
  • 8 No. 8 Sri Lanka
    In Sri Lanka, 59 percent of people give to charity. 
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    In Sri Lanka, 59 percent of people give to charity. 
  • 7 No. 7 Netherlands
    Following its first time placing outside of the top 10 in last year’s report, the Netherlands reappeared in seventh pla
    Biris Paul Silviu via Getty Images
    Following its first time placing outside of the top 10 in last year’s report, the Netherlands reappeared in seventh place this year.
  • 6 No. 6 United Kingdom
    In the U.K, 75 percent said they donated money. 
    oversnap via Getty Images
    In the U.K, 75 percent said they donated money. 
  • 5 No. 5 Australia
    Australia, where 72 percent of citizens donated money to charity, came in fifth place. 
    Photo by Bobby-Jo Clow via Getty Images
    Australia, where 72 percent of citizens donated money to charity, came in fifth place. 
  • 4 No. 4 Canada
    Canada came in fourth place with 69 percent of people saying they helped a stranger, 67 percent having donated money and 44 p
    iannelson via Getty Images
    Canada came in fourth place with 69 percent of people saying they helped a stranger, 67 percent having donated money and 44 percent volunteering their time. 
  • 3 No. 3 New Zealand
    New Zealand saw a major jump in the amount of people donating to charity, allowing it to climb from 13th place to 6th place t
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    New Zealand saw a major jump in the amount of people donating to charity, allowing it to climb from 13th place to 6th place this year in the donation category. It came in third overall. 
  • 2 No. 2 USA
    The U.S.’s giving levels may have dropped from last year's record high of 68 percent to 63 percent, but its volunteer r
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    The U.S.’s giving levels may have dropped from last year's record high of 68 percent to 63 percent, but its volunteer rates are on the rise. Forty-seven percent of women gave back last year, up 4 percentage points from 2013.
  • 1 No. 1 Myanmar
    Thanks in large part to its high proportion of Theravada Buddhists, who practice Sangha Dana, Myanmar was the most generous c
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Thanks in large part to its high proportion of Theravada Buddhists, who practice Sangha Dana, Myanmar was the most generous country last year. Its citizens volunteered the most and with 92 percent of its citizens giving to charity, it also came in first for donations.

The U.S. was the only country to be ranked in the top 10 for all three giving criteria and saw monetary donations increase by 6 percent last year.

Globally, more people are volunteering their time and helping strangers, but there was a slight downtick in the proportion of people donating money. That decrease was likely tied to the fall in global GDP growth.

Mynamar, where 91 percent of the country donated money, climbed its way to No. 1 with its deeply-rooted charitable traditions. Charity or dana plays an integral role in the Theravada Buddhist community, which has about 500,000 monks there.

Several developing or lower-income countries -- including Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Trinidad and Tobago -- ranked among the most charitable.

Malaysia -- which tied for seventh with the U.K. -- saw a 26 percentage point increase in its giving score from last year. That jump was connected to the country’s commitment to helping its neighbor, the Philippines, after last year's Typhoon Haiyan.

"The index shows high levels of generosity in countries facing turmoil -- reflecting a pattern of giving in post-conflict nations as people help others through the most difficult of times," John Low, chief executive of CAF, said in a statement. "And it shows people’s innate desire to help others, even in nations which do not have anything like the standard of living enjoyed in the West."

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story featured a photo said to have been taken in Trinidad. It was photographed elsewhere.

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