A growing proportion of the world's population is giving money or time to charity, a new report from the Charities Aid Foundation finds.
Based on surveys conducted by Gallup in 145 countries, the 2015 edition of the World Giving Index (23 pages, PDF) reports that 1.4 billion people made a gift to charity in 2014 — a global participation level of 31.5 percent, up from 28.3 percent in 2013. The study also found that almost half (48.9 percent) the world's population age 15 and older helped a stranger in 2014, up slightly from the year before, while 21 percent of the world’s population said they had volunteered time — a small decrease from the 21.3 percent who said they volunteered in 2013.
The study, which examines the percentage of people who have given to charity, volunteered their time, or helped a stranger in the past month, put Myanmar, where 92 percent of the population said they donated to charity and 50 percent said they had volunteered, at the top of the index after it shared that spot with the United States in 2014. The survey also found an increase in generosity among people age 30 and younger, after a decline in 2013. Countries such as Ukraine, Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia, where conflict or natural disasters are a fresh memory, saw some of the largest increases in giving as a percentage of the population.
For the first time in the six years of the annual survey, men were as likely as women to donate cash to charity. And while women in developed countries are still more likely to donate than are men in those countries, the gap in giving between the genders globally has narrowed to the smallest recorded by the study over the last five years.
"The world is becoming a more generous place," said CAF chief executive John Low. "It is heartening to see that, even during these times of economic uncertainty across the world, people are increasingly likely to donate money to causes that help others. It is also hugely encouraging for the future that so much of the increase in giving has been driven by the younger generation."