Ireland remains one of the most charitable nations in the world despite being one of the hardest hit by the global economic downturn.
Figures released in the World Giving Index reveal that while the country struggled to survive the economic crash last year, its people remained as generous with their time and money as ever.
The survey conducted annually by the Charities Aid Foundation placed the small island as the most charitable nation in Europe and the second most charitable in the world in 2011.
The index is based on the percentages of three giving behaviours, documenting where people ‘volunteered time’, ‘helped strangers’ and ‘gave money to charity’ in 153 nations.
Britain placed second in the European ranking, ahead of the Netherlands, Iceland and Denmark.
In the wider report Ireland placed second in the global index of charitable nations, just one percentage point behind the USA and a move up the ranks from their third place position in 2010.
The remaining top five slots were taken by Australia, New Zealand and Britain.
“It is a great honour that Ireland’s ranking in the World Giving Index has risen to second place in the world and first place in Europe,” said Yvonne McKenna, chief executive of Volunteer Ireland.
“It reveals that, in the context of economic catastrophe, our most precious natural resource – the instinct to give to others – is so strong.”
The report noted both Ireland and the USA, while badly affected by the worldwide economic crisis, remained committed to helping those in need across the world.
“Ireland is now ranked second globally, one percentage point behind the USA,” it states. “Like the USA Ireland has risen up the World Giving Index rankings despite being one of the countries hardest hit by the global economic downturn.”
The report further showed that in Western and Southern Europe Britain has the highest percentage of people giving money to charity, at 79 per cent. Ahead of Ireland with 75 per cent.
However Ireland has the highest percentage of people who had helped a stranger and volunteered time, at 38 per cent and 65 per cent respectively.
The study also indicated that women in Ireland are more generous than their male counterparts when it comes to donating money but that men are likely to volunteer more of their time.
Ultimately the report concludes that while the world struggles with its economic turmoil its citizens are giving more.
In 2010 the global average of the three giving behaviours in the World Index was 32 per cent. In 2011 that rose to 34 per cent.