Myanmar’s Giving Dumps U.S. Out Of First Place

A decrease in rate of monetary giving and kindness to strangers has bumped the United States off of its perch atop the World Giving Index. Within a given month, 76 percent of Americans helped a stranger, 63 percent donated money and 44 percent volunteered in 2014. Those figures stood at 79 percent, 68 percent and 44 percent, respectively, in 2013.

The U.S.’s average score of 61 places it second in the world behind Myanmar with 66 in the 2015 rankings, which are based on 2014 survey data. The U.S. tied Myanmar atop the 2014 rankings with a score of 64 and was the world’s most generous country in 2013, with an average score of 61 – three points above Myanmar, Canada and New Zealand.

The 2015 World Giving Index is the sixth such effort by the Charities Aid Foundation of Kent, United Kingdom. The index is based on fieldwork conducted during the course of the year in more than 140 countries by the market research firm, Gallup, as part of its World Poll Initiative.

For the full rankings, visit www.cafonline.org.

Among the key findings in the 2015 index are:

  • Iraqis helped strangers at a greater rate than any other nation, 79 percent, followed by Liberia at 78 percent and the U.S. at 76 percent. In terms of numbers of people, India had the most individuals helping strangers with 335 million, followed by China and the U.S. with 262 million and 198 million, respectively;
  • 92 percent of the people of Myanmar had donated money within the past month, topping those of Thailand with 87 percent. The U.S. ranked 12th with 63 percent, but was second in terms of total number of people giving at 164 million, behind India’s 184 million;
  • Myanmar also led the world in percentage of people volunteering within a month’s time at 50 percent, besting Sri Lanka’s 48 percent and Liberia’s 46 percent. The U.S. ranked sixth at 44 percent and, again, finished second to India in numbers 157 million to 115 million;
  • After leading the world in rate of volunteerism in every prior index, Turkmenistan dropped to 66th in 2015. The report cites the impact of culture on giving as a cause. Saturday subbotniks, the giving up of a Saturday to volunteer or perform unpaid labor, were cancelled in Turkmenistan in 2014, according to the report. Religion is also cited as a cause for giving, as Theravada Buddhism is credited for promoting generosity in Myanmar; and,
  • Political conflicts and natural disasters can, too, impact giving. The percentage of Ukrainians donating money more than quadrupled from 9 percent in 2013 to 38 percent in 2014, a spike the index attributes to helping those impacted by conflict in the country. Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina all saw increases in donations from 2013 to 2014, likely due to massive flooding in southern Europe in May of 2014.