America has its share of problems: political gridlock, national debt, lagging economy… But in spite of these things, Americans are the most generous people in the world, according to a new report from the Charities Aid Foundation.
The report examined giving trends in 150 countries, using data from Gallup's Worldview Poll, and focused on three measures of generousity: donating money, volunteering time, and helping a stranger. Worldwide, there were increases in volunteering and helping a stranger, and a slight decrease in donating money. This is no surprise considering the economic slowdown, but it's certainly encouraging to see that, in spite of everything, people gave even more time and helped strangers more.
Lately, I've been encouraged by these awesome stories of people helping strangers in the U.S.
- A man talks his young mugger out of the crime by taking him out to dinner and giving him advice.
- A Secret Santa (and now string of Secret Santas) walks into K-Mart and pays off other families' lay-away accounts for Christmas gifts.
- Reddit users donate over $30,000 to help a family with a child who needs a bone marrow transplant.
In this Christmas season, stories like these really remind us how important and rewarding it is to help each other. As I wrote in the December policy focus, real charity in the private sector can be an engine of change in our society, by encouraging people to live productive lives and pass along kindness to others in need.
Still looking for that last minute gift for someone in your family? A recent poll shows that 80 percent of people would prefer a donation be made in their name to a charity than receive a useless gift. Think about it!
Most importantly, as Americans, let's celebrate this official title as the most generous nation in the world by committing ourselves to give even more. Even if our efforts aren't measured by international indexes, let's give more time to our families, our friends, and to strangers. Let's donate money to causes we really believe will better our country. Let's always be on the lookout for the chance to help someone. Let's continue to set an example to the world of how a strong civil society can facilitate prosperity and opportunity for everyone.