Stat of the month: Charity doesn't begin at home

It's official: the US is better at philanthropy than us Brits.

4 to 1 - US:UK donations to good works.

Last year, the US gave $304bn (ú186bn) to charity; in the UK, we gave ú9.9bn. According to our back-of-an-envelope calculations, that means the average American gives almost four times as much as a Brit.

High-profile American do-gooders have been hogging the limelight of late. What with Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and other billionaires pledging to give away half their wealth - an estimated $600bn - to charity, philanthropy has never been so a la mode.

Differences in culture between the UK and the US play a part - there is more of a sense of individual endeavour in America, whereas we've created a state-funded system to take the slack. With cuts on the way, will this approach to philanthropy be crossing the Atlantic? Perhaps we'll see Sugar and Branson giving away half their fortune ...

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