The CAF World Giving Index 2015 has been published and as ever, the results make for compelling reading.
The CAF World Giving Index, now in its sixth year, is a leading authority on global generosity. By measuring three different kinds of giving, it provides a simple and universally understood picture of charitable behaviour across the world.
The CAF World Giving Index is scored by averaging the percentage of people in each country who donated money, volunteered or helped a stranger in the previous month. For this year’s report 145 countries were surveyed as part of the Gallup World Poll. This allows us to gain data that is representative of the charitable behaviour of 96% of the world’s population.
The index reveals the amazing generosity of people around the world with almost half the world’s population (48.9%) over the age of 15 stating that they had “helped a stranger” in the month prior to being surveyed and an estimated 1.4 billion people (31.5%) having made a financial donation to charity.
So which countries have performed well in these years World Giving Index? A perennial challenger, Myanmar has topped the pile this year in terms of overall score by pipping the USA – with which it shared the honour last year – to the top spot. As has been discussed before, a widespread commitment to Sangha Dana – giving to support the monastic lifestyle – in the Theravada school of Buddhism likely explains this outstanding culture of generosity. Many will naturally draw an awkward parallel to the continuing plight of the Rohingya people in Myanmar.
The countries which comprise the rest of the Top 10 remain largely the same as those reported in 2014. Following its first ever placement outside of the Top 10 last year, the Netherlands reappears in seventh place, with uplifts reported across all three ways of giving. Malaysia and Kenya, both among the most improved countries last year, have maintained these increases in giving to remain in the Top 20 for 2015. Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Guatemala and Kyrgyzstan are all in the Top 20 for the first time, whilst Norway, Thailand and Germany have returned to the Top 20 having featured in previous years. Rankings result from a mix of improved performance, countries new to the survey entering the Index, and other countries not being surveyed this year.
Myanmar shows that wealth is not necessarily the decisive factor when it comes to generosity and it is by no means an outlier. The G-20, which represents the world’s largest economies, accounts for only five of the world’s 20 most generous countries. 6 of the G-20 (including China, Russia and Brazil) don’t even make the top 100.
As has been seen in previous years, some nations have seen notable rises in giving in spite of, and possibly in response to adversity. Iraq is the country in the world where people are most likely to have helped a stranger, with 79% of people having done so. The proportion of people donating money in Ukraine more than quadrupled in 2014 compared to the previous year. This has coincided with fundraising efforts for people affected by the conflict which ran from spring 2014. Increases in the proportion of people donating money in Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina may reflect fundraising efforts following the extensive flooding throughout southern Europe in May 2014.
A trend that seems to be becoming increasingly pronounced is the rise in the proportion of people giving money to charity in transitional economies – i.e. those which are too wealthy to be considered as economically developing nations but not affluent enough to be advanced economies. Indeed, this group has seen an 11.5 percentage point increase since last year’s index. This only adds credibility to the idea that we should be doing more to create an enabling environment for giving in those countries where people are increasingly finding that they have a discretionary income. Sadly, many nations of all income levels are closing the space for civil society.
So what is the current health of global generosity? Well, as you might imagine, even with the three relatively simple measures used in the World Giving Index, it is still pretty complicated. On one level, things look pretty positive. The proportion of people donating money to charity has increased from 28.3% to 31.5% in this year’s index and the proportion helping a stranger has increased slightly from 48.5% to 48.9% globally. However, this overall picture, taken as it is as an average where each country score is weighted equally regardless of population, may be a little misleading. In reality, significant drops in the proportion of people donating money to charity in the worlds two most populous nations – India and China – have meant that whilst the average across the survey sample has risen, the real world average may have fallen.
Last year we saw a decrease in those under 30 giving time, money or helping a stranger. This year we saw a recovery on each of these and this has gone some way towards reducing the generation gap which typically sees much more giving among older people. This is of course very encouraging as, without wanting to descend into cliché, the future of civil society depends on our ability to engage the next generation of donors. We have seen in previous years that a number of factors may be responsible for depressing the number of young donors but that despite this, there are signs that they could be leading a culture of giving in many developing and transitioning economies. Nurturing this could be crucial for delivering sustainable growth and meeting many of the worlds most pressing problems.