Which is the world's most generous country?

Story highlights

  • Myanmar and the U.S. hold the joint first position
  • Kenya is the most charitable nation in Africa

(CNN)A global survey of charitable giving conducted on 135 nations might give us a renewed sense of faith in humanity.

The World Giving Index 2014 examined whether people donated money to a charity, volunteered their time to an organization or offered assistance to someone they didn't know who needed help.
    A whopping 2.3 billion people worldwide reported helping a stranger over the course of one month last year, and over 1.4 billion donated money to charitable causes in 2013.

    The U.S. and Myanmar lead the pack

    It may not be surprising that the United States, one of the most affluent countries in the world, came on top as the most generous nation.
    What is more startling is that the accolade is shared with Myanmar, a nation ranked 151 spots lower than the U.S. on the GDP per capita scale.
    In fact, the report found that a nation's economic prosperity doesn't automatically translate to generosity.
    Only five of the countries in this year's World Giving Index Top 20 are members of the G20, a forum of the world's largest economies. Less affluent places like Sri Lanka and Trinidad and Tobago featured in the top 10.
    Other factors, like following a religious philosophy or responding to a natural disaster, were found to be major drivers of donations. Myanmar earned its top place mainly due to the fact that nearly all of the respondents, 91%, donated money to charity, a practice which is ingrained in the country's Theravada Buddhist community. Another high-ranking country with a large population of the followers of that religion is Sri Lanka, which ranked ninth in the Index.
    Malaysia's high jump in the ranking, from 71st place to seventh, was attributed to the outpouring of humanitarian aid after the devastating Typhoon Haiyan hit the neighboring Philippines.

    Kenya takes the top spot in Africa

    In Africa, Kenya has moved 18 places up this year, ranking 15th in the global index. It's the most charitable country in the continent, ahead of larger economies like Nigeria, which is in the 21st place, and South Africa which ranks 34th.
    Africans are also three times more likely to extend a helping hand to strangers than donate money or volunteer, which seems to show that they are more likely to manifest their generosity through community support than formalized channels.
    Another peculiarity of charitable giving on the continent is the African diaspora, which gave nearly $33 billion to aid organizations in 2014 according to the Hudson Institute.
    From a global perspective, the report concludes that the diverse nature of the top giving countries signals that regardless of geography or culture, people universally appear to respond to those in need.
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