What motivates US expats to get involved in charity work

Published:  8 Nov at 6 PM
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Of all the nationalities whose expats settle on distant shores, the Americans are the most likely to volunteer for charitable concerns.

Given that the USA scores high on the list of World Giving, it’s no surprise that a favourite occupation of Americans overseas is volunteering. What is surprising is that charitable work quickly becomes an essential part of US expat life, and they’re also very good at it.

Various theories exist as to why the average USA expat is more attracted to doing good than expats from most other Western countries, with the most persuasive being that supporting worthy causes shows more results in third world countries than it does in the home country. Instant justification, it seems, leads to even more involvement, a win-win for givers and getters alike.

Another strong motivation for getting involved in volunteering is the social aspect, a big attraction for most Americans. It’s a proven way to meet up with like-minded souls, especially if they’re involved in doing good in the American way.

Historically, Americans on the mainland have been forming charitable foundations for at least the past 150 years, many of which became, along with their founders, extremely wealthy and proved useful for tax relief. Nowadays, third world countries provide the perfect environment for the American trait of doing social good.

Other expat nationalities tend to be drawn to specific instances of need, rather than taking a blanket approach to charitable work, and are more likely to be responding to a need which appeared after their arrival. Also, expats in general are unlikely to respond to others’ needs by including religion in their offerings, concentrating rather on the practical and financial aspects of volunteer work.

One thing’s for sure, retired expats have all the time in the world to make a difference, whether by raising money, providing much-needed support through previous work experience in, say, the medical or teaching fields or even opening much-needed shelters for street dogs.
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