IMPACT

World Giving Index: US Ranked Most Charitable Country On Earth (SLIDESHOW)

12/20/2011 08:46 am ET | Updated Dec 20, 2011

The United States climbed from fifth place to the rank of most generous country in the world, according to a recent global study.

In its second annual study of 153 countries, the Charity Aid Foundation concluded that the U.S. has demonstrated "strong" behavior across all three criteria measured -- volunteering, helping strangers and donating money. The U.S. has increased its charity by 3 percentage points this year, up to $212 billion.

"The point to leave with American leaders is the world really needs America; it needs its generosity, its resource and spirit, and though times are really hard, this is the time we need to keep giving as much as we possibly can," Richard Harrison, director of research at the UK-based Charities Aid Foundation told The NonProfit Times.

Ireland and Australia trailed behind the U.S. in giving, but the study noted that the most affluent countries aren't necessarily the most philanthropic. Only five of the countries featured in the World Bank's top 20 GDP made to the Charity Aid Foundation's top 20 list.

But when it came to measuring volunteering, the age demographic came into play. The number of people who volunteered among the 50 and over age group increased 2 percentage points from last year.

"More people gave their time to help others over the last year...a compelling and inspiring reminder of human kindness," wrote John Low, chief executive of the Charity Aid Foundation. "The fact that donations became less frequent in many countries is one of the real tragedies of the financial crisis."

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