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Latest figures on giving show global decrease in generosity

15 September 2017


Global giving: the UK has fallen three places from eight to 11th place

Global giving: the UK has fallen three places from eight to 11th place

THE UK has fallen out of the top ten most generous developed countries in the world in terms of giving to good causes, volunteering, and helping strangers, the latest report from the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) World Giving Index has stated.

The UK fell three places from eighth to 11th on the international index, which collects data from 139 countries across the world over a five-year period (2012-2016 in the latest report). The decline was in line with a global decrease in giving since the previous report — which recorded a high in generosity, particularly by helping a stranger — and the lowest recorded levels in three years.

Every Western country in the top 20 had a lower score than the previous year. This included Myanmar, who topped the table for the fourth year running despite losing five percentage points from its score last year — its highest ever recorded. “We hypothesised that this high score may have been driven by a sense of optimism ahead of the country’s first openly contested election for 25 years,” the report says.

Countries and continents are scored based on Gallup’s World View World Poll surveys on giving behaviours — volunteering time; donating money to charity; and helping a stranger: the most common way of giving across the continents. In most participating countries, 1000 questionnaires were completed by a representative sample of individuals aged 15 and over living across the country. Larger samples of up to 4300 were collected in some countries.

The US and Australia also fell three places in the 2017 rankings, while New Zealand remained in fourth place despite a two-percentage point decrease in its World Giving Index score. CAF suggests in its report that the UK was hindered by the timing of its research, which was conducted in January and February last year — before key fundraising campaigns.

Africa was the only continent to see an increase in all three giving behaviours, since Ghana, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Liberia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Tunisia all improved their scores by at least five percentage points on the previous year.

The chief executive of CAF, Sir John Low, said: “Around the world, economic development is lifting the income of millions of people, and it is truly humbling to see that the natural reaction to increasing wealth is to give back to the society that nurtured.

“Governments worldwide should make it a priority to encourage giving, build up civil society, and seize the opportunity to translate economic development into a culture of generosity that will benefit everyone.”

CAF has launched a new initiative, Groundwork for Global Giving, to drive generosity by highlighting economic growth. “With as many as 2.4 billion people set to join the world’s middle classes by 2030, it is crucial that we ensure that the groundwork is put in place to support and encourage a mass engagement in giving,” the report says.

It estimates that if the middle classes across the world were to give 0.5 per cent of their spending — “less than the average UK household gives and about the same as people in the Republic of Korea” — this could amount to $319 billion in resources for civil-society organisations annually in 2030.

The report urges governments to promote incentives for public giving, provide funding and support to charities and civil-society organisations, and ensure that their engagement in the community and governance is regulated.

Sir John concluded: “It’s human instinct to help others and it’s always humbling to be reminded that hundreds of millions of people around the world sacrifice their time, money, and effort for the sake of others. [But the lower results this year] does remind us that our global culture of generosity should never be taken for granted.”

Paul Vallely

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