News and analysis
November 18, 2014

United States Ranks 9th in the World in Giving to Charity

The United States climbed into the top 10 on an annual ranking of the countries with the most charitable people but still lags behind smaller and poorer nations like Myanmar, Malta, and Thailand.

The World Giving Index 2014 report released today puts the United States ninth for giving to charity, up from 13th place on the 2013 index. According to the report, 68 percent of Americans surveyed last year said they had made a charitable donation in the previous month. That figure—the highest reported for the United States by the five-year-old index—is up considerably from the 2011 low of 57 percent.

The increase may reflect that Americans are acutely aware that the recession’s effects linger even as the economy rebounds, says Ted Hart, chief executive of the U.S. office of the Charities Aid Foundation, which released the index. "The scars from the Great Recession are still here," says Mr. Hart. "A lot of people are still hurting, and Americans want to help."

The United States also scored in the top 10 on the index’s two other measures of altruism: helping strangers in need (first) and volunteering (fifth). Seventy-nine percent of Americans surveyed said they had helped a stranger in the previous month, while 44 percent said they had volunteered. The United States was the only country in the report to rank in the top 10 on all three measures.

For the report, Charities Aid Foundation draws data from a Gallup survey of at least 1,000 people in each of 135 countries.

Other findings:

  • Myanmar ranked first in the world in giving, with 91 percent of survey respondents reporting a donation given in the previous month. The report attributes this high rate to the religious practice of supporting the thousands of Theravada Buddhist monks in the country.
  • Worldwide, the percentage of individuals making a charitable donation dipped less than a percentage point, to just under 28 percent. The report suggests this decline may reflect reduced giving among young adults, who suffered high unemployment rates in many parts of the world.
  • The index for the first time reported giving declining globally while the two other measures of altruism increased.

Send an e-mail to Drew Lindsay.