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Gallup poll: Degree of one's charity depends on happiness more than wealth

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Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT/Newscom/File

(Read caption) Tru Pettigrew, center, helps with local Haitians as volunteers with the North Carolina Baptist Men Disaster Relief build houses in Titanyen, Haiti, last May 3.

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So it's true. Money doesn't buy happiness. Giving does.

That's one big conclusion to draw from an unusual survey by Gallup on how much time and money people donate around the world. Known as the "World Giving Index 2010," the survey was conducted in 153 countries for the Charities Aid Foundation in Britain. It found a better correlation between a country's degree of happiness and giving than between its wealth and giving.

The poll's main purpose was to rank each country by its overall behavior of giving, based on this question:

Which of the following three charitable acts have you undertaken in the past month:

1. Donated money to an organization?

2. Volunteered time to an organization?

3. Helped a stranger, or someone you didn’t know who needed help?

Some countries are very stingy in giving (think former Soviet bloc nations), while some can be very generous in one area while stingy in another. Liberians, for instance, give very little money to charity or religious groups but are the world's most generous people in helping strangers. The most generous countries tend to be Protestant.

The top 10 countries, based on the highest percentages of people who answered yes to all three categories, are these:

Australia 57 percent

New Zealand 57 percent

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