Kindness Big

Yes, this is my question – do they believe in God or this is just high moral qualities, or something else? Despite US rough economy, Americans are still some of the world's most generous people.

A first of its kind survey found the United States tied for fifth place when it came to charity.
Australia and New Zealand tied for first place, followed by Canada, Ireland, the U.S. and Switzerland. The British-based Charities Aid Foundation looked at the percentage of people who donate time or money and help strangers. Madagascar was last out of the 153 countries surveyed.

Just recently Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett asked American billionaires to pledge at least half of their fortunes to charity, either in life or upon death.

While pledging is certainly a potentially generous step, what really matters is not what one promises to give away but what one hands over, an irrevocable gift. When you calculate the list of the Forbes 400, you don’t subtract their promised philanthropic gifts until it is out of their hands and their foundation’s hands (this is particularly important to note if they still control the foundation’s purse strings).

The most exclusive subset of the world’s wealthiest: those living philanthropists who had at that point given away $1 billion or more. Only 14 people in the world made the cut for this list of Billion-Dollar Donors, and only 11 of the world’s 793 billionaires, just about 1%. The other three donors, including SAP co-founder Dietmar Hopp, had fallen out of the ranks due to their generosity.

Gates led the list by almost an order of magnitude and so it is not surprising he is leading billionaires into philanthropy, starting with his good friend Warren Buffett, who had no record of giving until a few years ago and who apparently was influenced to give during his lifetime by Gates. The Microsoft chairman also seems to be rubbing off on the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim Helu. The two just held a press conference earlier this week to announce big donations to combat poverty in Mexico and Central America.