We’re A Generous Country By Betsy Newmark

Next time you hear some European elitist turn a nose up about American materialism, you should think of this story. Americans last year gave a record amount of charity.

Americans gave nearly $300 billion to charitable causes last year, setting a record and besting the 2005 total that had been boosted by a surge in aid to victims of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma and the Asian tsunami.

Donors contributed an estimated $295.02 billion in 2006, a 1% increase when adjusted for inflation, up from $283.05 billion in 2005. Excluding donations for disaster relief, the total rose 3.2%, inflation-adjusted, according to an annual report released Monday by the Giving USA Foundation at Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy.

And we give such record amounts even if you control for population.

Gaudiani said Americans give twice as much as the next most charitable country, according to a November 2006 comparison done by the Charities Aid Foundation. In philanthropic giving as a percentage of gross domestic product, the U.S. ranked first at 1.7%. No. 2 Britain gave 0.73%, while France, with a 0.14% rate, trailed such countries as South Africa, Singapore, Turkey and Germany.

And it is not just the super rich who are giving away money.

About 65% of households with incomes less than $100,000 give to charity, the report showed.

They are giving to religious organizations, schools, disaster relief and a whole host of charities. Americans seem to regard it as a natural expense to give some of their money to charities; perhaps other countries’ citizens look to the government to take care of such tasks.

This content was used with the permission of Betsy’s Page.

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