Is there science to give? Does the reason you make donations to charity have less to do with you and more about your geographical location? Maybe. According to an annual study, World Giving Index, performed by the Charities Aid Foundation, people who were raised in certain countries may just be more likely than others to reach a hand into their pockets to lend one to a person in need. Of course, there are many variables that may lead a person to donate or take part in some charitable service, including household values, life experiences or whether or not the bell-ringing Salvation Army volunteer sufficiently guilt-tripped you out of five dollars. However, your country of residence may have contributed more to your decision to give than you may know. The economic status, donation culture, and traditional or cultural beliefs of any given country also have the ability to inspire our thoughts about charitable donation.  These conditions may also have a substantial effect on person-to-person assistance, such as, giving money to a homeless individual or providing transportation for an elderly person to his or her home.  So, how exactly is donation culture different across the globe?

US/North America

Let us first go to the United States of America, where it was reported in 2018, that although the US-led in the total amount of money donated from citizens, the number of people donating had seen a sizable decrease, particularly in the middle class.

In 2017, the United States placed second in the world for the number of people that donated to any given charity, only surpassed by India. It must be noted, though, that the giving culture in the United States has been very much popularized through various media and incentives. While many countries offer incentives and deductions on charitable donations, recently, the United States has undergone major reform in the tax law, which has affected how these incentives will be dispersed. This tax reform will give full-credit deductions on donations exceeding $12,000 per individual, compared to the $6,400 required prior to the bill. Following this, the US saw a decrease in the total amount of charitable donations in 2018, as well as, in the total number of people that donated.  This presents another variable to our question: does this tax reform affect your probability of donation? While most would argue that charitable donations of any kind should be given without the expectancy of a reward, the truth remains that not everyone will agree. Charitable deductions may prove to be a factor some and not for others.

In terms of volunteering their time, 39 percent of Americans were recorded stating that they volunteered within the last month. Hardly a surprising outcome, seeing as the US holds the top spot for sending out the most missionaries around the world. A more unexpected ranking, though, maybe the fact that with 72 percent of Americans having confessed to helping a stranger within a month, the US was only able to secure the tenth position.

South America

If you are from a Central or South American country, you may be more likely to donate your time and effort than giving a monetary donation.  Studies have shown that Mexico and Brazil, the only two to represent their regions in the top ten of any of the rankings, stretch their charity muscles by personally going out and doing the hard work. It is important to note that this is just in comparison to other countries.  Another study has shown that the most common form of giving in Brazil is through a donation to a religious organization.


Asian countries have grown considerably more keen on charitable donations, specifically in monetary donations. Exaggerated by the quick and steady rise of numerous Asian economies, countries such as China, Japan and India have recorded higher numbers and quantity of charitable donations in the last few years than ever before.  Although these countries have improved, China (142), Japan (128) and South Korea (60) have ranked among the lowest on the overall Giving Index, with scores of 17, 22 and 34 percent, respectively.

South Korea has been moving a slightly different direction with ten of the leading conglomerates having reduced charitable donations by close to 20 percent total in the last three years. Donations from individual citizens have also seen a drop.

India has also seen this steady rise in donation culture. While India has led for many years in the total number of people that have donated in any capacity, it has ranked fairly low in its percentage of the population that has done so. This is undoubtedly liable to the fact that India has an astounding more than 1.3 billion citizen population for which to account.


It was recently reported that an elderly Zimbabwean woman walked over 10 miles to a nearby village to donate clothes to survivors of the Cyclone Idai. These kinds of honorable donations to help strangers are by no standards a once in blue moon occurrence on the continent of Africa. In fact, in a 2017 *survey, African countries garnered five of the top ten spots for participating in helping a stranger, all of which ranked higher than top-grossing countries, United States, China, and Japan. Another factor that may contribute to these findings is the skepticism in some NGOs that have misdirected donations or even politicians that have mishandled public health resources.  Wariness of these swindles enforces a need to personally offer a helping hand.


Australia and New Zealand have ranked amongst the top in the world for overall giving, whether to charity, strangers or monetary donation. Even so, the two countries have also seen a dip in charitable donations over the last five years. Reasons for this decrescendo can be attributed to various changes in the economy.

One of the most trending donations made in the Oceanic sector of the world recently is the generous one made by the notorious “Egg Boy”, Will Connolly. After being arrested for essentially smashing an egg on a politician during an address, supporters around the world gathered over 50,000 AUD for legal costs. Connolly, instead, donated the majority of the funds to victims of the New Zealand mosque attacks.

As much as we try to crunch numbers and figures, the fact remains that the biggest factor in whether or not an individual will make a charitable donation is the person him or herself. Unfortunately, no matter the country’s economic status, there will always be an area of suffering and coupled with the need for charitable works. Whether that helping hand comes in the form of a monetary donation, volunteering your time, or giving support to a stranger is irrelevant. The most important thing is that you reach out.