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Americans are World Champions in Philanthropy

USA Today:
The biggest chunk of the donations, $96.82 billion or 32.8%, went to religious organizations. The second largest slice, $40.98 billion or 13.9%, went to education, including gifts to colleges, universities and libraries. About 65% of households with incomes less than $100,000 give to charity, the report showed.
"It tells you something about American culture that is unlike any other country," said Claire Gaudiani, a professor at NYU's Heyman Center for Philanthropy and author of The Greater Good: How Philanthropy Drives the American Economy and Can Save Capitalism. Gaudiani said the willingness of Americans to give cuts across income levels, and their investments go to developing ideas, inventions and people to the benefit of the overall economy. Gaudiani said Americans give twice as much as the next most charitable country, according to a November 2006 comparison done by the Charities Aid Foundation. In philanthropic giving as a percentage of gross domestic product, the U.S. ranked first at 1.7%. No. 2 Britain gave 0.73%, while France, with a 0.14% rate, trailed such countries as South Africa, Singapore, Turkey and Germany.
Philanthropy is on the rise in Germany, and various organizations and media outlets describe the US as a role model for Germany.
One reason, why Germans do not donate as much as Americans could be that the German welfare state is bigger, i.e. Germans pay taxes rather than donate money to help the poor, the sick, and to finance religious groups. German solidarity is organized via taxes rather than donations. Both systems have advantages and disadvantages.
Still, Davids Medienkritik has a good point: "Why aren't these amerikanische Verhältnisse headline news in German media?"

Related posts in the Atlantic Review:
Learning from America: Philanthropy and Immigration
Importing the American Spirit of Civic Responsibility to Germany
Americans donate and volunteer a lot for good causes abroad


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Austrian on :

It makes a huge difference if donations are tax-exempt or not. In Austria, we are quite charitable as far as I know, but I cannot deduct my donations from my taxes, or I would give a great deal more. Remember, too, that we have a church tax, while churches in the USA, including the Catholic church, have to rely entirely on donations. Then all those donations to schools and universities are really donations from the rich to other rich people, or at best the middle class. The same goes for donations to museums, etc., which are mostly to enhance social standing among the rich, and do nothing for the needy. You simply cannot directly compare donations in two such different systems.

Don S on :

One implication of the 'shurch tax' is that the State gives it's approval to specific religions by financing them. That in turn is driven by the political process in the end, is it not? So while all is sweetness and light because the Roman Catholics are tolerating the Lutherans it is possible to forsee a situation far in the future when the Sunni's persecute the Shias in a European country. Pasively by cutting off their funding; or actively by other means? Far in the future I emphasise. Hundreds, nay thousands of years!

Pat Patterson on :

More than 50% of the total dollars donated to charity in the US come from households of earnings of $50,000 or less. 75% comes from households of earnings of $100,000 or less. The very rich may give more dollars but compared to the other two groups they give less per capita, 2.7% vs. 4.2%. The only two groups that give less, percentage wise, are millionaires and the non-working poor, even though they may actually have as much income, via transfer payments and subsidized services, as the working poor. Households with $25,000 in income donate 4.7% a year plus are twice as likely to do volunteer work. If some of the wealthy have the money to donate, to museums, universities, symphonies, operas etc., possibly so that they or their spouses get to serve on the boards of those groups, then so what? Mother Theresa was said to have remarked (doubtful) when asked about taking tainted money from Charles Keating, "...t'aint enough." One reason that the state doesn't support the churches via tax money goes back to the early colonial period when the Anglican Church was the official church and everyone, including Baptists, Moravians, Catholics, Jews, Methodists, Presbyterians, Quakers and Shakers for example were required pay a tax to support the Anglicans who were not only a minority in the colonies but were Loyalists to the core. Plus as a bit of trivia in some states, notably Virginia and New York, people had to go to the Anglican priest for their marriage to be considered legally binding.

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