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Despite hard times, Americans are the most generous in the world

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 20 2011 3:56 p.m. MST

Salvation Army volunteer Vincent Callendine, a bellringer outside a store in Phoenix, accepts the donation of Julia Webrand of Phoenix, Friday, Nov. 25, 2005. (AP Photo/Will Powers)

WILL POWERS, ASSOCIATED PRESS

The United States is the most generous nation in the world, according to a global study released Monday.

Ireland was ranked second place in the World Giving Report 2011, followed closely by Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

The United States moved to the top-spot from fifth place in 2010.

Two out of three Americans donate money to charity and two out of five volunteer their time, according to the report, which was conducted by the UK-based Charities Aid Foundation. Seventy-three percent report helping a stranger.

Overall, the United States earned a score of 60 on the World Giving Index. The average score for all countries included in the survey was 31.6.

"In spite of economic hardships and uncertainty in the future, the American spirit is caring and strong," said David Venne, interim CEO and director of finance for CAFAmerica, a member organization of Charities Aid Foundation.

Not all of the world's most generous countries are the world's most affluent. Only five of the countries featured in the World Bank top 20 by GDP were also included in the World Giving Report top 20. Sri Lanka, Thailand and Lao People's Democratic Republic all made the top ten. Morocco and Nigeria ranked in the top 20.

Worldwide, more people volunteered and helped strangers in 2011 than 2010, according to the report. The percentage of people donating money dropped.

"This is a very positive and heart-warming insight into how the global community is responding to the economic and social turmoil," said Richard Harrison, director of research for Charities Aid Foundation. "However ... the challenging news is that the proportion of people giving money to charity fell. This is worrying as falling donations mean less aid during disasters, less access to clean water, good hygiene and decent housing, and a reduced capacity to care for the most vulnerable in society. It is important for America and for the global community that Americans who can afford to give, do continue to give".

EMAIL: estuart@desnews.com

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