A look at charity around the world in and the U.S.

About 20% of annual nonprofit revenue is raised in December. Today we look at charity around the world and in the U.S.

World Giving Index

The people of some countries around the world are notably generous and being wealthy is not a requirement. The World Giving Index is an annual report published by the Charities Aid Foundation. The report examines charitable giving in three categories: donating money, volunteering time and helping strangers. Of the three giving behaviors, helping a stranger is the most commonly performed worldwide, with more than 2.5 billion people having helped a stranger in the last 10 years.

The Charities Aid Foundation World Giving Index is based on data from Gallup’s World View World Poll 13, an ongoing research project that was carried out in 114 countries in 2020. Together, those countries represent more than 90% of the world’s population.

In the 2021 edition, the United States, which ranked first in the world in giving for the years 2009-2018, fell to 19th in 2020. However, the U.S. was not the only high-level giver to drop. In fact, many countries that landed in the top 10 in most charitable countries in previous years slid out of the top 20. This was most likely due to complications during the pandemic.


The top charitable countries represent different levels of wealth, different cultures, religions and geographies. For example, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Indonesia are all classified by the United Nations as lower-middle income countries; however, they also were three of the top 10 most charitable countries in the world.

No. 1 United States and No. 2 Myanmar

When data from all 10 years was compiled, the United States emerged as the most charitable country with a score of 58%. Of those surveyed in the U.S. over the 10-year period, 72% reported helping a stranger, 61% reported donating to a charity and 42% reported having volunteered their time to an organization.

Myanmar’s overall score of 58% earned it the rank of second-most charitable country in the world. Despite being a lower-middle income country, Myanmar had the highest percentage of people donating to charities at 81%. Myanmar has a large population of Theravada Buddhists for whom small, frequent acts of giving are the norm. In fact, this generosity helped earn Myanmar the No. 1 spot during the data years 2013-2016 when more than 90% of the country’s residents donated money to charitable causes.

The following statistics are from the National Philanthropic Trust regarding charitable giving in the U.S. in 2021:l Americans gave $484.85 billion. This reflects a 4% increase from 2020.

Corporate giving increased to $21.08 billion — a 23.8% increase from 2020.

Foundation giving increased to $90.88 billion — a 3.4% increase from 2020.

Giving by bequest was $46.01 billion — a 7.3% decline from 2020.

In 2021, the largest source of charitable giving came from individuals, who gave $326.87 billion, representing 67% of total giving.

In 2021, the majority of charitable dollars went to:

Religion (27%)

Education (14%)

Human services (13%)

Grant-making foundations (13%)

Public society benefit (11%)

Giving in 2021 increased in nearly every sector, with double-digit growth in gifts for arts, culture and humanities (27.5%), public society benefit (23.5%) and environment/animals (11%).

The following ranking for states is from‘s rankings released in November. WalletHub determined the most charitable of the 50 states by comparing them across 19 key indicators of charitable behavior. The data set ranges from the volunteer rate to the share of income donated to the share of sheltered homeless.

Sources: Gallup News insights, Charities Aid Foundation, Wallethub

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