Confessions of a blogger

I have a confession to make . . . I have been out of the country for the last two weeks on a cruise touring the Baltic Sea with stops in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia and Norway (we also spent a few days in London .. and yes, parts of it were on fire and rioting). I pre-wrote two weeks of blogs and asked my friend Marissa (who is a fellow blogger at One World One Plate) to publish my posts every day. If you like food, I encourage you to check into Marissa’s blog. As for my blog, I hope you enjoyed the voices of real donors and real volunteer solicitors over the last two weeks. I need to jump back into the saddle and thought I’d briefly share a few observations on charitable giving from my trip.

As I hopped all over northern Europe, I kept my eyes and ears open for signs of philanthropy. I witnessed American Airlines flight attendants making a group solicitation on behalf of UNICEF.  A “voluntary donation” was included (?!?!) in the price of admission to the Tower of London by the British government to help underwrite renovations.  I saw Boy Scouts in Stockholm, Sweden and dined with a Rotarian from Toronto, Canada on the cruise ship.

The more I saw, the more I became convinced that philanthropy unites people from different backgrounds. However, I find myself wondering why there are substantial differences between countries charitable giving data. Did you know:

  • The USA leads the world in charitable giving as a percentage of GDP, giving almost 2-percent of our GDP to charities. Canada and Great Britain are traditionally in second place and donate less than half of that.
  • When looking at charitable giving, volunteerism, and general “kindness to humankind,” the USA falls to #6 on the list of “Worldwide Giving Index” scores. (Source: The Guardian)
  • The USA falls to #18 on the list when you look at what percentage of the population makes charitable contributions. (Source: The Guardian)
  • Finally, the USA ranks #10 on the list of percentage of population who has volunteered time to an organization in the last month. (Source: The Guardian)

I am left thinking that the explanation for these discrepancies is more than just wealth and the size of our economies. All you need to consider is that Turkmenistan is at the top of the volunteerism list and Thailand and Morocco are ahead of the USA in percentage of the population making a charitable contribution.

Do you believe that government policies affect how many people make charitable contributions? Who contributes? Who volunteers? How kind and generous we are to each other? Or is it cultural? In your experiences, does philanthropy unite us? If so, how have you seen it happen?

Here is to your health!

Erik Anderson
Owner, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

About DonorDreams

Erik got his start working in the non-profit field immediately upon graduation with his masters degree in 1994. His non-profit management and fundraising experience numbers nearly 20 years. His teachable point of view around resource development is influenced by the work of Penelope Burk and those professionals subscribing to a "donor centered" paradigm. Donors have dreams and it is our responsibility to be dream-makers because donors are not ATMs.

Posted on August 22, 2011, in Fundraising, resource development and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I wonder if the type of government (socialist, democratic, dictatorship, etc.) has anything to do with the percentage donated, and if the number of hours in the average work week for any given country affects the number of volunteer hours.

    Interesting numbers! Thanks for sharing. Your trip sounds fabulous!

    • Thanks for jumping in … and yes, the trip was amazing!

      I think you’re onto something when it comes to the role of government in our societies. (Please don’t read this as me agreeing with Tea Party positions on the role of government) Perhaps, the USA has greater charitable giving because our government doesn’t provide nearly as many social programs for the poor, senior citizens, kids, etc. This revelation also has me worrying about the effect that government funding might have on the non-profit sector in the USA.

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