Lindsey and I watched an excellent inward-looking and feel-good report on ABC last night about charitable donations in America: who gives and who doesn’t. The report suggests that roughly 75% of Americans donate, and individually they are more generous with their time and wallets than any other country’s citizens several times over saying “no other country comes close” when it comes to giving.
But our Federal government only ranks 21 out of the top 22 charitable countries on a percentage basis despite monetarily donating more money than anyone else? But that’s only half the story: “While the U.S. government gave about $20 billion in foreign aid in 2004, privately, Americans gave $24.2 billion… Regardless of what our government does, Americans are anything but cheap.”
Why is my biased American self saying this? Because despite the fact that the US has its flaws, the argument that America is stingy is trite and cliche. As a bonus: “Immigrants in America send about $47 billion abroad to family members and home towns. That’s anything but stingy.”
So shall we live it up and boast in our plentiful giving? Not at all. 20/20 also discloses which group of Americans gives the most on a percent basis: the working poor followed by select rich individuals. The middle class as a whole gives the least and cites “not enough money” as the reason for not giving. That’s classy.
And “liberal” is synonymous with giving so surely those who profess to be more generous towards others are on the whole, right? No. And don’t call me Shirly: “It turns out that this idea that liberals give more… is a myth. Of the top 25 states where people give an above average percent of their income, 24 were red states in the last presidential election… conservatives give about 30 percent more, and incidentally, conservative-headed families make slightly less money.”
While I’m sure many devout liberals donate, talk is cheap at the consensus level as the article notes: “You find that people who believe it’s the government’s job to make incomes more equal, are far less likely to give their money away.” [DISCLOSURE: I skew conservative but vote for democrats around 40% of the time.]
And finally, what’s the biggest indicator that an individual will give? Religious participation by “silly inferior people” with a belief system. “The single biggest predictor of whether someone will be charitable is their religious participation.” And that’s not just to their own churches in the form of tithing, it’s all across the board even giving more on an individual basis to secular charities than others.
But the real point is, however, that everyone can give more. We are all blessed. All should give equally and generously and we will find greater happiness, health, and peace of mind in the process. Yours truly very much included.