Friday, May 01, 2015

Ireland - A giving nation

One thing that has struck me since our return to Ireland is the amount of charity work and money being raised for organisations that goes on in every single city, town and village in Ireland. It really is astounding the amount of voluntary work, charitable events and collections for those less fortunate that goes on every week of the year.
I wasn't surprised then to discover that Ireland is ranked 4th in the World Giving Index which is put together by Gallup based on the following survey:
Which of the following three charitable acts they had been undertaken in the past month:
  • donated money to an organisation?
  • volunteered time to an organisation?
  • helped a stranger, or someone they didn’t know who needed help?
(thank you wikipedia)

For a small nation of just over 4 million just coming out of the grips of a recession, this is really something to be proud of.
This altruistic nature is pretty non existent in France , and apart from the telethon which takes place in December, there is very little of any charitable type work done in France. France ranks number 90 in this World Giving Index, after countries like Ethopia (72), Afghanistan (79) and Bangladesh (72).

Why are the French less charitable? Well one might argue that they have far less disposable income than other Europeans ranking higher than they. One might also point out that they pay a fair whack already on social charges and so they feel it is the government's job to look after the weaker and poorer in society. Fair point, so let's take the money out of the philanthropy equation and the result is that French people don't volunteer their time either, or for that matter help strangers..why is this?

We were invited to a dinner party in France shortly after the tsunami in Thailand in 2004. We had just returned to France after being in Ireland for the holidays where everybody was out raising money to help out. After a few drinks at the dinner party, Mr Getrealfrance suggested that we should have a sing song and anyone who wouldn't sing had to throw 5euros into the pot for the tsunami fund. This was met with incredulity and horror. Most people left the party abruptly ( before dessert - this is unheard of) and not one person contributed. We were never invited back to the neighbours house, but that's another story!

As Ireland rallies together with thousands of events this weekend to raise funds for Nepal, I am proud to be Irish.

We'll be there!


  1. I often wondered this too in my early days in France, until I realized that was because the government and l'église take care of most of the work that charities usually do in Anglophone countries (ie people are often paid to do that kind of work, so volunteers aren't necessarily needed).

  2. I don't believe in letting the government do it all. We donate money and other things, help our neighbors without waiting to be asked.


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