How charitable are Americans?

Americans are good at making money — but we’re also good at giving it away.

by Justin Loiseau

In 2011, we came in first place as far as generous nations go in the Charities Aid Foundation’s World Giving Index. However, in recent years we’ve slipped.

Australia took the cake for giving in 2012, followed by Ireland, Canada, and New Zealand. The U.S. came in fifth place.

America’s charitable giving can be emotional, highly variable, and downright astonishing. Here are the facts, as well as tips on how to be an effective philanthropist.

Who’s Most and Least Generous

The World Giving Index takes a survey-based approach and, according to the survey, 42 percent of Americans said they’d volunteered in the last year, 57 percent reported donating money, and 71 percent reported helping a stranger.

But not all Americans give equally. The Chronicle of Philanthropy has crunched numbers on charitable deductions data, and the results are fascinating. Mormon tithing seems to lifted Utah — the average household gives away 10.6 percent of its discretionary income, the highest level in the nation. It’s no single state fluke, either. More religious parts of the U.S. are also more generous. And a new study released in October found that 23 percent of Jewish Americans include charities in their wills — almost twice the percentage of non-Jews.

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