U.S. Ranks Fifth in Global Index of Charitable Behavior

The United States is tied with Switzerland as the fifth most charitable country in the world, a new report from the Charities Aid Foundation America finds.

Based on data from an ongoing international Gallup survey, the World Giving Index 2010 (20 pages, PDF) ranked 153 countries — representing 95 percent of the world's population — by the percentages of the population that had donated to a charity, volunteered time to an organization, and helped a stranger in need in the previous month. In the United States, 60 percent of the population had given money, 39 percent spent time volunteering, and 65 percent helped a stranger.

Overall, Australia and New Zealand ranked as the most charitable nations in the world, followed by Ireland and Canada. Malta ranked first in the personal giving category (83 percent), Turkmenistan in the volunteering category (61 percent), and Liberia in the helping-a-stranger category (76 percent). Few countries demonstrated low scores in all three categories.

"When it comes to philanthropy, Americans do a lot...and can always do more," said CAFAmerica president Janet Boyd. "This survey highlights the need to engage workers in volunteering via the corporate sector, young people by new social media channels, and older Americans by means that are both comfortable and familiar to them. In my view, no one should take a critical view of the U.S.'s fifth-place rank in this report for a variety of reasons, but that also does not mean that we should be complacent as a nation when there is so much more that can be done."