Myanmar shared the top position with the United States according to the survey, which was conducted by the UK-based Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) based on three criteria: donating money to charity, volunteering time, and helping strangers. In his foreword to this year’s report, CAF’s chief executive Dr. John Low states: “The index shows high levels of generosity in countries facing turmoil – reflecting a pattern of giving in post-conflict nations as people help others through the most difficult of times. And it shows people’s innate desire to help others, even in nations which do not have anything like the standard of living enjoyed in the West.”
Early morning alms round in Myanmar. From burmadhamma.blogspot.com
According to Jessica Durando of USA Today, the US is the only country ranked in the top ten in all three factors, with a score increase from 61 per cent in the previous index to 64 per cent. Myanmar’s high score of 91 per cent, on the other hand, comes from donating money alone. The CAF report states that the munificence of Myanmar—it has 500,000 Buddhist monks—stems from the Theravada Buddhist practice of dana, or generosity, and that “the position of Myanmar reminds us how important each country’s distinctive culture is in the predilection of its people to be charitable.” Esther Htusan of the Associated Press writes that the half million Buddhist monks make up of almost one per cent of the country’s total population, and donating money and food to them is a way of earning merit. The monks, who spend most of their time meditating and praying, do charitable deeds in return, which keeps the giving cycle alive.
The report also praises women all over the world, who often earn less than their male counterparts. “Since 2009, women have become more likely than men to donate money to charity at a global level – this is despite the gap in economic participation that still exists between men and women worldwide. Reflecting this global disparity, women are only more likely to give money in high income countries; in middle and low income countries men are more likely to donate,” it states.
Patrick Rooney, associate dean for research and academic affairs at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, told Jessica Durando that giving in the States has grown at a reasonable rate since the Great Recession. “The good news is that giving didn’t fall off the map during the Great Recession. The bad news is as we’ve recovered it’s continued to grow but more slowly than we hoped for,” he said, adding that Americans are “very philanthropic.”
Other countries among the top ten, in order, are Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, Sri Lanka, and Trinidad and Tobago. Thailand, one of the three major Theravada countries, was ranked 21st. According to the CAG report, only 5 of the G20 countries are in the top 20 this year, and 11 were ranked outside the top 50; 3 were even outside the top 100.