Americans have long been the most generous in the world when it comes to charity and that hasn't changed, despite the Great Recession. Giving USA reports contributions rose 3% last year.

Giving USA Chairman Gregg Carlson says Americans gave $335-billion last year.

"To put that into some perspective that is more than the GDP of countries like Denmark and Ireland."

With plenty of oil and gas billionaires around Houston you might think charities here do well -- and they do. But Carlson says it's hard to get an exact figure because so many of those donations are kept private. But it's not just billionaires that make the difference; Carlson says it's you and me. Giving USA says most of the donations are made by the non-rich.

Some critics say a lot of the giving is from foundations, like those of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett and their contributions are to institutions, like universities, rather than to the poor.

But Carlson says that's not true.

"72% of all giving is coming from individuals, so the vast majority of giving is coming from people like you, me and your neighbor."