U.S. most generous nation, 'Red' states most charitable
It turns out that those who give more of themselves, their time, and their resources to help others typically are Americans … and generally speaking, they also happen to live in states that lean Republican.
A massive global research project spanning 126 nations and more than 1.3 million people over a ten-year period recently revealed that the United States is the most generous country on Earth. Around the time that research started, separate studies taken showed America's most charitable states are "Red" – that is, predominantly vote Republican – with religion playing a crucial role.
Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) – the United Kingdom-based nonprofit that conducted the decade-long research – determined generosity scores using three factors: donating money, volunteering time, and helping a stranger.
"The most generous country in the world over a decade of CAF World Giving Index is the United States," the 10th edition of the CAF report announced . "The U.S. occupies first place over the last 10 years with a score of 58%."
A bird's-eye view
Over half of the nations on the top-10 list have predominantly Christian, English-speaking populations:
- United States-58%
- New Zealand-57%
- United Kingdom-54%
- Sri Lanka-51%
Communist/atheist nations sandwich the nations/people groups ranked on the bottom-10 list, which includes Islamic as well as Eastern European populations.
- (#126) China-16%
- (#125) Greece-16%
- (#124) Yemen-17%
- (#123) Serbia-19%
- (#122) State of Palestine-19%
- (#121) Lithuania-19%
- (#120) Bulgaria-19%
- (#119) Montenegro-20%
- (#118) Croatia-21%
- (#117) Russia-21%
CAF chief executive John Lowe said the degree of charity is declining in the U.S. and in most of the nations topping the generosity list.
"The U.S. emerges as the world's most generous country over the course of the study, but the numbers belie a dip in donations in more recent years and echo what we have seen in other developed countries," Lowe stated in the report.
He encouraged individuals to assist fellow countrymen and those abroad to upset the trend.
"… [T]here is no secret to success in growing giving around the world, there is only hard work, an awareness of the inherent value of that generosity to our communities and a shared commitment to do more to make the biggest possible difference in the lives of our friends and neighbors," Lowe asserted.
When it comes to the most popular charitable act globally, being the Good Samaritan wins out.
"Helping a stranger is the most commonly performed giving behavior across the world, with 48.3 percent having done so across the ten years of the World Giving Index," the report divulged. "This equates to more than 2.5 billion people."
Breaking it down
When looking at individual categories, the U.S. stayed around the top 10 in all three – only missing the mark once.
"Although the United States ranked as the most generous country overall, it ranked 3rd most likely [72%] to help a stranger, 11th most likely to donate money [under 63%] and 5th most likely to volunteer time [42%]," The Western Journal gleaned from the report .
Despite its top ranking, generosity in the U.S. has waned since the middle of the Barack Obama administration, and a changed tax code implemented during President Donald Trump's first year in office could have also affected donation practices.
"The study also showed that while the U.S. ranked as the top country in the past decade, there has been a decrease in the country's generosity since 2014," the Journal's Kayla Kunkel pointed out. "CAF also noted that the 2017 tax haul may affect Americans' likelihood to donate money because millions of Americans are 'no longer claiming a specific charitable deduction for their donations through their tax return.'"
The U.S. ranked first overall, but the best- and worst-ranked in each category were:
- Donating Money: First place - Myanmar (81%); Last place - Georgia (6%)
- Volunteer Time: First place - Sri Lanka (46%); Last place - China (5%)
- Helping a Stranger: First place - Liberia (77%); Last place - Japan (24%)
Giving in America
A state-by-state study detailing giving demographics was conducted during the beginning of the CAF World Giving Index, and it found that virtually all of the ten most charitable states voted Republican. (Image left: 2016 election county map)
"A strong pattern that makes some commentators uneasy is the fact that, as [economist Arthur] Brooks put it, 'the electoral map and the charity map are remarkably similar,'" the Philanthropy Roundtable report noted .
"To quote the Chronicle of Philanthropy 's 2012 summary of its giving research, 'the eight states that ranked highest voted for John McCain in the last presidential contest … while the seven lowest-ranking states supported Barack Obama."
The top ten states for giving – provided by Philanthropy Roundtable, with giving as a percentage of adjusted income – were:
- Utah (6.6%)
- Mississippi (5.0%)
- Alabama (4.9%)
- Tennessee (4.5%)
- Georgia (4.2%)
- South Carolina (4.1%)
- Idaho (4.1%)
- Oklahoma (3.9%)
- Arkansas (3.9%)
- North Carolina (3.6%)
And the least generous states were:
- (#50) New Hampshire (1.7%)
- (#49) Maine (2.0%)
- (#48) Vermont (2.0%)
- (#47) New Jersey (2.0%)
- (#46) Rhode Island (2.1%)
- (#45) Massachusetts (2.2%)
- (#44) Connecticut (2.3%)
- (#43) North Dakota (2.4%)
- (#42) Wisconsin (2.4%)
- (#41) Hawaii (2.5%)
And according to the same study, states housing far-left urban strongholds were the most tight-fisted.
"Measured by how much they share out of what they have available, the most generous Americans are not generally those in high-income, urban, liberal states like California or Massachusetts," the Roundtable revealed. "Rather, people living in states that are more rural, conservative, religious and moderate in income are our most generous givers."
The Roundtable report pointed to calculations from the Chronicle to determine America's most generous regions.
"… [T]he biggest givers are found to be concentrated in 'Bible Belt' states in the South or where Mormons make up a large portion of the population," the report stated. "On the other hand, scant-giving households are heavily concentrated in relatively wealthy and secular New England."
Giving in the four major regions of the U.S. – by percentage of adjusted gross income donated to charity – was as follows: (1) South (5.2%); (2) West (4.5%); (3) Midwest (4.3%) and (4) Northeast (4.0%).
Giving in conservative and liberal cities reflected giving in states.
"Denizens of Salt Lake City, Birmingham, Memphis, Nashville and Atlanta donate from 4 to 6 percent of their discretionary income to charity, while counterparts in Boston, Hartford and Providence average just 2 percent," the report noted. "Silicon Valley is legendary for its wealth, yet lags badly in charity – the Chronicle data show San Jose and San Francisco falling near the bottom among our 50 biggest cities, giving away just 2.2 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively, of their income."
Marriage and faith
When the state-by-state survey took place at the beginning of the ten-year global survey, marriage was a major determinant of generosity when using statistics from the government's Consumer Expenditure Survey.
"The demographic characteristic most likely to increase giving to charitable causes is marriage," the Roundtable stressed. "Compared to the unmarried, married households were 62 percent more giving in 2011."
Those who were non-religious generally donated less.
"Surprisingly, people who volunteer at secular organizations are a bit under-giving, in regressions of the PSID statistics," the report added. "Meanwhile, persons who volunteer at religious organizations are dramatically bigger donors of money."
People of faith – especially evangelicals – led the way in generous giving.
"Charitable effort correlates strongly with the frequency with which a person attends religious services," the Roundtable explained. "Evangelical Protestants and Mormons in particular are strong givers. Compared to Protestant affiliation, both Catholic affiliation and Jewish affiliation reduce the scope of average giving."