The Charities Aid Foundation have published their 8th Annual Global Giving Index and the results show an almost worldwide decline in charitable giving. Mostly sadly, for the first time ever the UK has dropped out of the top 10 of most generous nations, coming in at 11th; 3 places below last year’s rankings.
The aim of the CAF World Giving Index is to offer insight in to global giving trends and ascertain where people are more likely to engage in positive social activity, namely donating cash, helping a stranger or participating in volunteering. What the Index doesn’t do is speculate what factors are driving growth (or decline) and the barriers to improving generosity. That part of the conversation has been left up to us and so here are my thoughts on the CAF World Giving Index; the good, the bad and the ugly.
The rise of populism
It’s the buzzword of 2017, but populism may have played a part in the overall decline in giving in the developed world. While the survey took place before Donald Trump was elected President of the United States (that still feels weird to write, FYI) the social climate that led to that outcome, the Brexit result and the empowerment of other alt-right political groups, was already well under way. It is perhaps unsurprising, therefore that in the UK, USA, Australia, Netherlands and Germany generosity fell  last year and is perhaps an example of the divisions we currently face in the aftermath of populist decisions.
Next year’s report will tell us whether the reactions to alt-right populism, such as funding campaigns to American social development charities, The Women’s March and the UK General Election had any bearing on people’s giving habits too.
High giving rate doesn’t equate to social cohesion
Even where giving is high we cannot disregard the wider context a countries political and social landscape. Take Asia, for example, where countries with high Buddhist populations came out on top when it comes to giving, due to the altruistic nature of the religion and responsibility to support monastic lifestyles. Indonesia has moved up the list and for the 5th year in a row Myanmar has topped the list. However, anyone up to date with their current affairs will be aware of the human rights abuses currently taking place in the country that have led to thousands of Rohingya Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh in fear of their lives.  
This lack of clarity between acts of giving and social cohesion can further been seen in the United Arab Emirates, where again, the devoutly religious Federation can boast a good position in the index, but is often scrutinised for its poor human rights record and high rates of citizen poverty.
The developed world vs the developing world
We’ve already looked at the decline of giving in the developed world, but focus should be drawn towards the developing world, which has seen a rise in giving in the 12 months to the survey. Across the continent of Africa, giving is on the rise. Kenya, Sierra Leone and Liberia all increased their giving and this can be attributed to a rising middle class, improving living standards and disposable income.
What is interesting, is the way people give. In the developed world people are more likely to give money, but developing nations have an onus on helping people. Sierra Leone topped the ranking in the helping people category.
What drives people to give in certain ways?
Looking at the data it is easy to make inferences about the way people give. Interestingly men are more likely to help someone than women and perhaps this is due to a safety concern. It is much easier for men to stop and support a stranger without fear of danger to personal safety.
Overall, men are more likely to give money, but women are more likely in developed nations. In Denmark, Sweden New Zealand, Norway and Australia this is the case.
Germany knocked Russia off the top 10 when it came to increases in the number of people helping a stranger. There was an increase of 38.5m to 40.8m who recorded having helped someone. Speculatively, this could be down to the increased number of refugees entering Germany and people feeling they have a responsibility to help by offering goods and safe shelter.
The report has shown that we can all be better at volunteering. Only 28% of respondents said they had volunteered their time. Volunteering is a massive source of support for organisations across the UK and can save charities and good causes huge amount of money. It would be great to see an improvement on people volunteering their time in next year’s report.
Overall, the report does show some cause for concern. The dip below 5 year averages in giving in the developed world is surely worrying and there are likely more socio-economic factors than are explored here. Having said that, we should be celebrating the increases in giving across Africa and continue to support fast growing economies to embed a culture of giving that we can reflect upon year after year.
As a fundraiser who has only worked in the UK and for UK-based charities having an insight into giving around the world is a welcome opportunity. If you’re an international fundraiser I would love to hear how you think the Global Giving Index reflects the culture of giving in your country.