Americans: A nation of givers

AmirAshkan Pishroo
by AmirAshkan Pishroo

For its March/April 2008 issue, The American has run an intriguing research by Arthur C. Brooks, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, who maintains that Americans are the most giving people in the world.

For instance, he asks, “Are Americans more or less charitable than citizens of other countries?” His findings: “No developed country approaches American giving. For example, in 1995 (the most recent year for which data are available), Americans gave, per capita, three and a half times as much to causes and charities as the French, seven times as much as the Germans, and 14 times as much as the Italians.

Similarly, in 1998, Americans were 15 percent more likely to volunteer their time than the Dutch, 21 percent more likely than the Swiss, and 32 percent more likely than the Germans.”

All of us who care have carelessness in us, imagine that anything our past self has done our present self could do better.


Recently by AmirAshkan PishrooCommentsDate
The assassination of an author
Oct 16, 2008
John McCain & the making of a financial crisis
Oct 07, 2008
If you were a Jew
Oct 05, 2008
more from AmirAshkan Pishroo
American Wife

nope, I haven't given up on reading.

by American Wife on

I've simply given up on continuing a antagonistic exchange with you.  I'll be the first to admit I'm "excitable"  But there's the difference.  It's my opinion you're combative and I'm not going to waste my or your time on a difference of opinion.

You're in the wrong place if you don't care for people who wrap themselves in a flag (or whatever) and are proud of who they are based on where they're born my dear.  It's my experience that Iranians are some of the most passionate and proud human beings I've ever come across.  I mistakenly thought you were proud of who you are. 

My dad always said it best.    American born / Irish heritage

And yep... still proud of it...:-)


American wife, gave up reading?

by Jaleho on

I kinda guessed you would! So, now you prefer to get to the more mundane chats like:

"Why you seem so determined to provoke me is something else. " 


Now now, provoke you to THINK maybe. But, aside from the fact that I don't care for people who wrap theselves in a flag and keep on saying how PROUD they are for having been born some place, frankly you assume again too much about yourself by thinking that I am determined to provoke YOU. I have always tried to be polite enough to answer YOUR "outrage" or seemingly lack of comprehension about something IIIII write, or I try to take the time to answer when YOU pose a question to ME. See the emphasis?

If you don't like an answer or explanation of an idea that is antagonistic to your preconceived ideas, the solution is simple: do not ask or make unlearned remarks.


BTW, you then continue with another wrong preconceived conclusion:

" Perhaps it IS because I'm American... who knows. "


No American wife, as much as you seem to revere being American, you ARE not American, you are Irish...IIII know :-)

American Wife


by American Wife on

As you yourself said, one can pick and choose.  Just as Republican and Democrats spin their own version of issues, this is a matter of opinion.  You're obviously anti-American, which is cool.  That's what America is all about... the freedom to have an opinion and to voice it.  So let's just agree to disagree.  Why you seem so determined to provoke me is something else.  Perhaps it IS because I'm American... who knows.  Your condescending tone obviously reflects your insecurity and inability to be polite...:-)

It's too gorgeous a day to let your negativity ruin my mood!

I AM proud to be an American and I know of at least a few people who do care...:-)  Find something that YOU can be proud of and you'll be a much happier person!


American wife, try to read to learn something

by Jaleho on

rather than throwing meaningless slogans based on your preconceived ideas. You inform us:

"I am proud to be an American."

Believe me, every canny observer here already knows that your conscious or subconscious choice of "American wife" for a user name in "" reflects that pride. You can shout that sentence ten times a day, you can ask God to bless America,  your good  boys in the uniform, paste it on your car, and wave hundered American flags, but.... the rest of 6 billion people in the world neither care how you feel about YOURSELF nor feel you're anything special.


Now if you can absorb that, and as I told you in Trita's thread:


try reading an article for comprehension rather than "instant outrage" or fresh "slogans," then you would you would be able to concentrate and read something thoroughly, not just a pargraph that stirs those "quick emotions" in you.


So, now that you read a bit past the charted data, for a full understanding please continue reading few more lines past your favorite paragraph:

...other issue also is whether personal remmittances can be counted as American
giving, as people point out that it is often foreign immigrant workers
sending savings back to their families in other countries. Political
commentator Daniel Drezner takes up this issue arguing, “Americans aren’t remitting this money—foreign nationals are.”

Comparing Adelman’s figures with her previous employer’s, USAID,
Drezner adds that “Adelman’s figure is accurate if you include foreign
remittances.” However, if you do not count foreign remittances then it
matches the numbers that the research institute, the Center for Global
Development uses in their rankings (see below).


American Wife

if you read a little further in Jaleho's link...

by American Wife on

"As an aside, it should be emphasized that the above figures are comparing government spending. Such spending has been agreed at international level and is spread over a number of priorities.

Individual/private donations may be targeted in many ways. However, even though the charts above do show US aid to be poor (in percentage terms) compared to the rest, the generosity of the American people is far more impressive than their government. Private aid/donation typically through the charity of individual people and organizations can be weighted to certain interests and areas. Nonetheless, it is interesting to note for example, per latest estimates, Americans privately give at least $34 billion overseas—more than twice the US official foreign aid of $15 billion at that time:"

So, I think this does indicate the generosity of the American people.

Troneg... these figures don't include programs such as you describe.  "Adopt-a-highway" is extremely active in my home state.  I activated this program at the gated community I worked at before coming to CA.  It is purely volunteer and many many organizations, schools, churches and individual groups participated. 

I am proud to be an American.

AmirAshkan Pishroo

My fellow Iranian-Americans

by AmirAshkan Pishroo on

Comrade Ali P.,

Where there are no hard evidences or data, as in the case of the Iranian-Americans' contribution to charity, we need to rely on our logic, like 2+2= 22. The happy synthesis between two great nations, that is Iranians and Americans, has created a super duper people called Iranian-Americans who are far superior to their thesis (Iranian) and their antithesis (American) in dealing with societal issues.

Dear Nazy,

I am grateful for your remarkable comment, which could be run as an independent post or article. It made me rethink some of my own assumptions.

I also thank Irandoxt, Ebi xaan, troneg, skatermom, and Jaleho for their informed comments.

Dear Jaleho,

Your expression "bokhar-e-medeh" was truly funny, but, I swear to god, not true in my case, simply because I am vegan.

Plus, my views, and hence my position-free position, are presented to achieve an effect, therefore I am making no claim to truth nor to the final, truthful picture of reality.


The DATA shows the oppiste,

by Jaleho on

if you consider US government as a general representative of the American people. Again Mr. Pishroo picks and choses, and this time he chooses from the neocon think tank, American Enterprise Institute. If you want to see  REAL DATA you'll find out that contrary to Mr. Pishroo's claim,  the USA is actually one of stingiest developed countries in the world!


Just scroll down to see the graphs in a glance.


Mr. Pishroo's pick and choose are amazing, as I mentioned in his last two blogs down here. It is OK to show one side of a story as your opinion, but somehow Mr Pishroo's side of the story is always in line with a neocon Think Tank or given with no back up except for "bokhar-e-medeh" as proof, and typically is a reactionary ideology trying to distort the truth. I have a feeling that Mr. Pishroo considers US Iraq invasion as one of the most generous acts by the USA, do you? Spending a lot for freedom of Iraqis?




Hello. Tax deductions! I do

by skatermom (not verified) on

Hello. Tax deductions!
I do agree however that Americans are very generous. This is one of the truly great American ideologies that I think we haven't marketed well internationally. Other countries don't know how charitable we are. Although it's a bit tough when you're dolling out humanitarian aid on one hand and carpet bombing on the other. We do as a society advocate volunteering. I know that in our district's public school system, our kids are required to log in a certain number of volunteer hours based on grade level and it's mandatory for college admission. They have several things to choose from. ie...elderly care, beach clean up, park cleanups. My 5th grade son volunteered to feed our local migrant worker community recently. He was thrilled.



by Toofantheoncesogreat (not verified) on

When most of the wealth gathers in a country of massive overweight consumers, the US, it should be a natural thing to be the greatest donators in the world.



by Troneg on

During my trips to US. I remarked many things are done by private donations as Table or Statute in Central Park. even people or companies adopte some Highways in California. Are these donations are in your statistic as charity? In Europe these kind of funding is done by public organisations.

However I beleive always in our proverb :

To Khoobi mikono dar Dejleh Andaz keh khoda dar biabanat dahat baz.

ebi amirhosseini

Mr Pishroo aziz

by ebi amirhosseini on

So true,even among our community(Iranian-Americas) is becoming a very popular act . I remember back in Iran poeple were also generous in this respect ( mostly during the natural calamities like earthquakes....),but especifically the poeple of Yazd were,I believe,pioneers in the sense of their giving back to the society by building hospitals,schools &....( most famous one I remeber, late Mr Fateh Yazdi). Raaheshaan Mostadaam Baad!.

Sepaas for sharing.

Nazy Kaviani

Dear Amir Ashkan

by Nazy Kaviani on

I work in the development industry, working for one of the best universities in the world. Higher education, research, and assistance to the needy would be long gone in this country, were it not for the generous help of American people who care about a diverse range of subjects, issues, and needs, helping out wherever they can. Private giving, as well as supporting those causes financially, politically, and practically are what make the difference. It is a culture which is based on every individual's sense of power and ability to help and to be effective.

There are increasing numbers of Iranian-Americans who are giving to charitable causes, some of them very large sums. In the institution where I work, many Iranians start to help out their alma mater immediately after graduation, first in smaller amounts and when they develop more wealth, in larger amounts. Successful Iranian Americans have given generously to institutes of higher education over the past decade, establishing research centers in important California universities such as UC Irvine and Stanford. Because they are US citizens and make their donations in the States, you would never be able to see a cohesive number which is reflective of Iranians' charitable giving, but rest assured that this culture is slowly but surely building up among our fellow countrymen and women.

Iranians have always been extremely generous to those around them. Organized charity in Iran was limited to orphanages for the longest time. Though as a child I was involved in visiting those orphanages and spending time with the children there, I do believe those organizations did not reach out to public for assistance, probably because they were sufficiently funded.

I do know that no old lady in our family was ever left to fend for herself on the street, taken in by relatives into their homes. When my four cousins lost their parents, they were taken in and raised by another aunt and uncle. My retarded nephew was raised and cared for at home by loving parents and sisters. Collection projects which started popping up more prominently after the revolution in Iran, were never turned down by people who wanted to help a young woman put together a wedding trousseau, someone's hospital bills, and more frequently of late, someone's funeral costs. These were not "organized charities," the way it's been done so well in the US, but in my mind they are measures of a society's willingness to help its needy.

Iran is going through a very bad time because its government is not taking full responsibility for its challenged, handicapped, and disadvantaged. Iranian people do help but I'm afraid it would be very hard to tell how much and how helpful that help is, due to the rampant corruption in charitable organizations in Iran.

I believe just like people of any other nationality and origin, if Iranians are trained and guided to give to charitable organizations, they will. The underlying principle of charitable giving is in people's trust that their donations reach the targeted destination. Wherever Iranians are sure of that, I believe they become very generous.


Ali P.

by IRANdokht on

I believe Iranians are also very charitable people. Most of them give on individual basis and not to organized charities, except for the religious centers and the new charity boxes that have been placed everywhere in Iran.

We all remember how our parents took care of the needy, feeding and clothing the ones they came across, helping out underprivileged families, sending help to victims of earthquakes, etc... ok maybe not on a global level, but cheraaghi keh be khaneh ravaast be masjed haraam ast, we had enough causes at home...

The above mentioned statistics only cover the charitable organizations and their donors. 


PS: oops I just noticed you specified Iranian-Americans. I assure you I know plenty of Iranian-Americans who contribute poisitively to these statistics. We still believe in sadagheh and nazr, even if we claim no religion ;-)

Ali P.

Very true!

by Ali P. on

Mmmm....I wonder, where our jamaa'at ( Iranian-Americans) stands on this ranking!





Wait...I don't want to know!