The World Giving Index, a survey of 135 countries and their charity habits, was released last month. How does the United States fare?

The good news: The U.S. hit the top of the list for helping a stranger in need, with 77 percent of respondents saying they’d been a good Samaritan in the past month.

The U.S. ranked third in volunteerism, with 45 percent of respondents saying they had volunteered in their communities.

But when it came to the percentage of people donating money to charities, 12 countries did better than we did.

The No. 1 and 2 spots went to Myanmar, with 85 percent of folks reporting they donated, and the United Kingdom, with 76 percent. That compares to 62 percent of Americans surveyed.

The survey was based on three questions in a Gallup poll of 1,000 people in each country. It asked about three forms of giving — with money, volunteerism and “helping strangers.”

Combining all three forms of charity, the U.S. came in number one, followed respectively by three second-place winners — Canada, New Zealand and Myanmar.

The survey, sponsored by the Charities Aid Foundation of England, found several trends.

• Women are more likely to donate money than men.

• Men and women volunteer at roughly the same rates.

• Men helping strangers was one of the biggest growth areas.

The survey found that charitable giving in developing countries was growing, even outpacing the U.S. Unexpected on the list: The people of Thailand took fifth place in donating money to charities, at 70 percent, and those in Indonesia, ranked 12, at 63 percent.

People donate for different reasons, the report said. Take the case of Myanmar.

“People donate with the expectation of having a better next life,” said Naing Oo, a Myanmar writer quoted in the report. “People are not motivated to donate for education or health, but to build a pagoda or monastery.”

Find the report at


Jean Hopfensperger 612 673-4511