How much does the most generous country in the world give to the needy, on average?

Over one billion dollars a day, that’s how much.

Last year Americans gave $373.25 billion to charity according to the recently released Giving USA 2016: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2015.  Giving increased over the past two year for the first time in a decade, perhaps because of a reviving economy, to reach an all-time high.

America — and believe-it-or-not Myanmar — share the distinction of being the most generous countries in the world according to Charities Aid Foundation’s annual World Giving Index. Canada and Ireland rank third and fourth. Among the US states, red states give more than blue states and southern states give more than northern states.

How can we best help the poor?

Find the solution here.

In other words, some Americans are more willing to outsource their compassion to the government than others.

Why is this a problem? For one, government anti-poverty programs don’t work well to reduce human misery. The Heritage Foundation found that after 50 years and $22 trillion in government anti-poverty spending:

“[P]rogress against poverty, as measured by the U.S. Census Bureau, has been minimal, and in terms of President Johnson’s main goal of reducing the “causes” rather than the mere “consequences” of poverty, the War on Poverty has failed completely. In fact, a significant portion of the population is now less capable of self-sufficiency than it was when the War on Poverty began.”

The poor are made worse off by indiscriminate government welfare spending. Private community and church-run programs are more likely to take into account individual situations and to require accountability. Both givers and receivers are involved voluntarily. Receivers are not entitled to benefits. Givers are not coerced into giving.

Government programs hurt many of the recipients they are intended to help, but how about potential givers?  Do the poor become out of sight, out of mind because someone else, the government, is taking care of them?  At least one study suggests that government welfare spending in the US reduced charitable activity. That the citizens of large welfare states in Europe give far less to charity than do US citizens, seems to confirm the trend.

With more than $19 trillion in US government debt and counting, it’s time for politicians to recognize the value of private charitable institutions and their potential in replacing unsustainable government programs.

What do you think? Are we better able to help the poor through government programs, prone to inefficiency, or private charity and getting personally involved in local non-profits? Share your thoughts on Facebook!

How can we best help the poor?

What impact have government programs made? Are there better options to combat poverty? Find the solution here.

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