American are a giving people … but so are many others.

Giving during the holidaysComing off of Thanksgiving Day and heading into the remaining holidays of the year, with their emphasis on “giving,” it’s tempting for we Americans to think of ourselves as a generous people.

Which we are.  The latest comparative analysis proves the point.

In fact, America is tied with one other country as the most generous in the world.

And that other country is … wait for it … Myanmar.

That is correct:  the United States and Myanmar (Burma) each scored a 64% generosity rating in the recently published World Giving Index.  The two nations were followed closely by Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia.

The World Giving Index is actually an aggregated figure, calculated based on three kinds of giving:

  • Volunteering of time
  • Donating money
  • Helping a stranger

World Giving IndexData was collected in field research carried out across more than 140 countries via Gallup’s World View World Poll, then compiled by international research firm CAF-America for creating the World Giving Index based interview questions that measured the behaviors of people during the 30-day period prior to interviewing.

A sampling of adults in each of the countries was interviewed, with the percentages of people participating in each of the three behavioral attributes collected.  The scores were amalgamated to determine the overall index score per country.

How did the United States achieve its first-place tie?  It ranked #1 among all surveyed countries in helping a stranger (a participation score of 79%) … #5 in volunteering of time (a score of 44%) … and #9 in donating money (a score of 68%).

Myanmar’s route to the shared top spot was different:  It ranked #1 for donating money (a participation score of 91%) … #2 for volunteering time (a score of 51%), but only #49 for helping a stranger (a score of 49%).

2014 World Giving Index Heat Map by CAF
This 2014 World Giving Index “heat map” shows which nations are the most generous. (Gallup survey data amalgamated by CAF.)

For the record, here’s how the Top 10 countries fared in terms of their overall World Giving Index scores:

  • #1 (tie) USA:  64% World Giving Index score
  • #1 (tie) Myanmar:  64%
  • #3 (tie) Canada:  60%
  • #3 (tie) Ireland:  60%
  • #5 New Zealand:  58%
  • #6 Australia:  56%
  • #7 (tie) Malaysia:  55%
  • #7 (tie) United Kingdom:  55%
  • #9 (tie) Sri Lanka:  54%
  • #9 (tie) Trinidad & Tobago:  54%

Looking at the Top 10 list – and also at where the other countries surveyed fell further down the roster – it appears that living in a prosperous economy doesn’t necessarily translate into being more charitable.

If that were the case, we’d see the G20 economies making up the top tier — which they don’t.

“Aspiring” economies also don’t show up particularly well, either.  The so-called BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) are nowhere to be found in the Top 10 ranking.

The MINT nations (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) are no-shows, too.

Myanmar poses a very interesting case.  It’s 91% rating of people giving money reflects a practice of charitable giving (daana) that is a centerpiece tenets of religious observance amongst the Theravada Buddhists that thrive in the country.

And in the United States, charitable giving participation rates have grown significantly in the years since the Great Recession, so that today about two-thirds of adults reported donating money within 30 days of when they were interviewed.

For more details on the comparative study and the world rankings, click here.

A Game-Changer for Charitable Organizations and Causes?

Jumo, a social network focused on charities.Chris Hughes
Jumo, the newest social network focused on charities and social activism.
There’s a new international social media resource being launched. Jumo, which was unveiled this past week in a beta test version, aims to connect people with not-for-profit causes and charitable organizations.

Established in February 2010, Jumo describes itself as “a social network connecting individuals and organizations who want to change the world.”

The founder of Jumo is Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook who more recently served as director of online organizing for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008. He sees Jumo as a way for people to find and evaluate organizations that focus on the causes that interest them. Such organizations can range all the way from health and educational initiatives to ones dealing with advocacy issues such as gay rights.

News articles, YouTube videos, Twitter posts and other content will be added to Jumo pages, and users can also add their own comments and feedback.

What’s the inspiration behind Jumo? It’s to establish a social platform focusing on issues, advocacy and not-for-profit organizations rather than on personalities or branded products. “The more connected [an] individual is to an issue they care about, the higher probability there is they will stay involved over a longer period of time,” Hughes has stated.

As part of establishing its mission, Jumo has outlined the following three key factors:

 Millions of people are working to improve the lives of others, many of whom lack the resources to have major impact.

 There are millions of other people who would want to help, but don’t know how.

 Despite where we are with technology, it’s still difficult to find meaningful opportunities to get involved.

Jumo provides a platform wherein people can discover the type of causes and organizations they care about, follow the latest news and updates in those fields, and support the work of these organizations through the donation of skills, time or financial support.

In Hughes’ view, this is what differentiates Jumo from social media platforms such as Facebook, which also allows the creation of pages for non-profit groups. Facebook’s groups tend to be passive, with many an individual’s interaction going little beyond “following” or “liking” them.

Hughes believes there will be significantly more volunteering and giving associated with the people who interact with organizations on Jumo. And if that happens, it may finally fulfill the promise of online platforms enabling not-for-profits to raise money more efficiently and less expensively than via traditional means.

That’s a goal that has been stubbornly elusive to date, as only about 5% of all U.S. donations come from online giving, according to the Blackbaud Index of Online Giving.

How does Jumo intend to grow and thrive in the online world? As a not-for-profit initiative itself, it plans to rely on payments from users and sponsorships from groups that would like to receive more highly visible promotion on the site.

Jumo already contains ~3,000 charitable organizations and issues-oriented groups which have been “seeded” on the site. But any organization that is certified as “tax exempt” is eligible to set up a page on Jumo.

Is Jumo destined to transform social activism? Only time will tell … but it will be interesting to see how this interesting new venture evolves and grows in the coming months.