While a booming economy certainly helps, it’s hardly required in order to become one of the most generous nations in the world, a new study has proven.
The U.S. and Myanmar tied for first place for the country that gave the most last year, according to the 2014 World Giving Index. And just five countries that made it to the top 20 are members of the G20 — the world’s largest economies — according to the report, which was released Tuesday by Charitable Aid Foundation America (CAF).
To get a well-rounded perspective on people’s giving patterns, respondents were asked if they donated money, volunteered with an organization or helped a stranger in the past month and the answers were averaged to determine a final score. The report was based on Gallup data collected across 135 countries.
The U.S. was the only country to be ranked in the top 10 for all three giving criteria and saw monetary donations increase by 6 percent last year.
Globally, more people are volunteering their time and helping strangers, but there was a slight downtick in the proportion of people donating money. That decrease was likely tied to the fall in global GDP growth.
Mynamar, where 91 percent of the country donated money, climbed its way to No. 1 with its deeply-rooted charitable traditions. Charity or dana plays an integral role in the Theravada Buddhist community, which has about 500,000 monks there.
Several developing or lower-income countries — including Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Trinidad and Tobago — ranked among the most charitable.
Malaysia — which tied for seventh with the U.K. — saw a 26 percentage point increase in its giving score from last year. That jump was connected to the country’s commitment to helping its neighbor, the Philippines, after last year’s Typhoon Haiyan.
“The index shows high levels of generosity in countries facing turmoil — reflecting a pattern of giving in post-conflict nations as people help others through the most difficult of times,” John Low, chief executive of CAF, said in a statement. “And it shows people’s innate desire to help others, even in nations which do not have anything like the standard of living enjoyed in the West.”