The World Giving Index for 2012 has found Ireland to be the most charitable country in Europe, and the second most charitable country in the world, just behind Australia.

The World Giving Index ranks countries according to their rates of three different ‘giving’ behaviors: donating money, volunteering time, and or helping a stranger. Data was collected by the market research firm Gallup throughout 2011 and analyzed over 155,000 people from 146 countries.

Overall, the report found that, “The pattern that emerges is one of a global decline in giving and support for charity,” writes Dr. John Law in the foreword of the official report. Later in the report, however, Ireland’s consistency with charity is noted.

Of all the countries in the world, Ireland actually ranks in first place in the ‘donating money’ category with 79 percent of respondents saying they donated some of their own money in 2011. 

In this category, Ireland was three percentage points ahead of the top-ranked Australia, which reported 76 percent of people donating money.

Ireland and Australia tied for their overall World Giving Index Score with 60 percent each. However, with Australia narrowly beating out Ireland in the ‘volunteering time’ and ‘helping a stranger’ categories, they came out at first worldwide.

“If each individual measure in Ireland had been one percentage point higher, Ireland would have been ranked as the most generous nation in the world,” the official report writes.

Yvonne McKenna, CEO of Volunteer Ireland, told The Journal that it’s in the Irish’s nature to be giving: “The research highlights the remarkable generosity of spirit that continues to thrive in Ireland throughout difficult times. Connecting with people is something that is inherent to our culture in Ireland and this is reflected in the statistics.”

An Irish charity last yearLensmen Photographic Agency