Wow, those stingy Americans are at it again, giving hundreds of billions of dollars to charitable organizations all around the world.
The urgent needs created by three major natural disasters - the tsunami in Asia, earthquake in Pakistan and hurricanes Rita, Katrina and Wilma - drove American philanthropy to its highest level since the end of the technology boom, a new study showed.
The report released Monday by the Giving USA foundation estimates that in 2005 Americans gave $260.28 billion, a rise of 6.1 percent, which approaches the inflation-adjusted high of $260.53 billion that was reached in 2000.
About half of the overall increase of $15 billion went directly to aid victims of the disasters. The rest of the increase, meanwhile, may still be traced to the disasters since they may have raised public awareness of other charities.
"When there is a very significant need, when people are clearly aware of that need, they will respond," the chairman of Giving USA, Richard Jolly, said. "Were it not for the disasters, what we would have expected is more of a flat number. With the staggering need generated by the disasters, it's very in keeping with what has happened in the past - the American public stepped forward and provided additional support."
And that's just private charity, it doesn't count the billions we've spent freeing millions of Afghanis and Iraqis, protecting millions of South Koreans and Europeans, and so forth.