To what degree does your country respect and encourage the freedom to be generous? That’s the question examined in a new pilot study from the Hudson Institute’s Center for Global Prosperity.

Billed as the first attempt to measure the ease of giving across the globe, the report (PDF download) draws data from 13 nations to explore barriers and incentives for individuals and organizations to donate resources to social causes.

“This research is a major step in helping countries identify policy changes that will encourage philanthropy, the goal of this study,” said Carol C. Adelman, senior fellow and director of the Center for Global Prosperity.
The report reaches its conclusions through three indicators: the ease of registering and operating philanthropic organizations; domestic tax policies that either encourage or discourage generosity; and the ease of sending and receiving cash and in-kind goods across borders.

“By identifying the barriers and incentives for philanthropy and civil society, our research provides a practical roadmap for changing policies and thus growing philanthropy,” Adelman said.

The philanthropy freedom index puts the Netherlands, United States, Sweden, Japan, Australia, and Mexico at the top. Turkey, Russia, Egypt, and China round out the bottom.

Of the three metrics used, the U.S. scored highest in civil-society freedom: The right of individuals and groups to join forces and give as they choose. Overall, researchers concluded that the U.S. is “relatively conducive to philanthropic activity.”

Only the Netherlands scored higher than the U.S., due in part to a better tax environment and fewer regulations of cross-border flows of cash and in-kind contributions.

In the future, the authors plan to create a fuller index of philanthropic freedom by measuring all nations.

David N. Bass is a contributor to Carolina Journal.