Saturday, January 15, 2011

Charity: Which country gives most?

This chart confirms what I have always believed; that Americans are incredibly generous people.

The data behind this chart captures private transfers by charitable organisations abroad. Americans, on average, give $52 a year to non-governmental agencies for development purposes outside the country.

This is the voluntary type of development aid, not the sort that is enforced by a tax system. This is people sticking their paws in their handbag, opening their purse, and pulling out some notes for a collection box. This is genuine giving.

The UK, in contrast, doesn't score terribly well. We give on average five dollars a year; less than a 10th of what the typical American gives. We are fractionally ahead of Japan and Italy, but we are well behind Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Ireland.

So, the next time you hear someone go on an ignorant rant about America and its foreign policy, gently remind them about America's extraordinary private and essentially personal generosity to other less fortunate people in the world.

(The data is from the OECD).


  1. It’s really great to do charity and be a part of a social cause! It takes a lot of efforts and patience to raise money for various social causes.

  2. To be absolutely fair you have to take into acount levels of taxation in each country: in France there is a view that the levels of taxation are such that aid to charity is, in parts, managed by the state. Which makes sense, as the charities you see the most in the media are not always the most needy, or get so much that it would be fairer if they shared with other charities (eg massively succesful Tsunami appeal while famine broke out in Darfur.

  3. @ Anonymous
    the govt giving money has nothing to do with individual charity. The govt giving away your money doesn't mean you are charitable at all, it means your gov't is. Therefore when you speak of given to charity based on GDP then you should NOT take into consideration what the gov't gives away. I have never in my life heard of someone getting credit for being charitable by merely giving their money away in taxes.

  4. I like people making ethical evaluation with a predisposed mind set and selecting the data as it fuels their satisfaction.
    First anyone should be cautious of self congratulations(even from one country toward another)
    -type of: "I am, it is ... the greatest country in the world, the -est one in human history"
    - Honestly, any human or group of human or human constitution or human writing...; qualified as the "best" (compared to other human stuff) is utter baloney and crap.

    I am Franco-American who has lived in both countries, so I can be a living example of proper experimentation and give some explanation about the difference to end with the conclusion that neither one is better than the other one when it comes to giving. (American vs French)

    So here it goes; I gave more dollars when I was in America than in France - it would conclude than American are more blablabla - but I am a French citizen - ok, may be the atmosphere in France, or me, back in that country, had a sudden metamorphose (both way, when I arrived in the States and vice versa) - I can assure you it is the same me through history.

    The reality is simpler to explain
    At times, when in the States, I had my best salary ever (compared to France) and less taxes overall - so I had more cash to spare but the same charitable heart - (BTW, I had my worst salary, also in the States)

    Also it is part of American life to be "courted" to give money for charity and zillions of causes - every month you get solicited or reminded - French life is more quiet and less "demanding" on your moral fiber to "prove" you are a good citizen.

    Also, where Americans got the idea that French people didn't choose or agree to share (repartition of common resources) via taxes? we did choose this way (but don't agree on the amount of taxes evidently)
    here it is a cultural thing

    - Charity and giving is a very personal thing in America, while it is a collective thing in Latin France;
    meaning they express their "charitable" feeling within a group action more than individual action.

    - France has over 1200 years of Aristocratic Charity examples that were so hypocritical that the French people simply don't buy individual "goodness" as a real demonstration of giving; and truly, one can see that the richer a person is, the less of one's assets the person is sharing - both, in France and in America the most giving people (in % of their income) are at the bottom income bracket when compared to the upper income one (even in dollars amount, they seem to give more)

    Also a big incentive I had in the States, was that I got tax break for doing so - you get almost nothing back in the French tax system. And America is full of organizations, that set up charitable actions - one wouldn't dare to not give as a proper member.

    At last, there are way less "in need" people around us in France than in the States - the income inequality is less than in the States, the resources, health, educational needs are much lower since those are very cheap in France and thus you witness (eye sight) regularly a greater disparity in America, and this is a big incentive to give when you have the mean; is that fundamentally a better sign?
    Look at Walmart employees obliged to depend on state funded Health Emergency care and charitable giving to be able to offset health problem when they occur - There is no Supermarket employees in France, reduced to such situation - conclusion, seeing all these American rescuing these Walmart employees is this a demonstration that America is more giving? - Guess what, most French people will do if you tell them that kind of demonstration - they will laugh...