Charity Trending Down in Wealthiest Countries, Study Finds

Charity Trending Down in Wealthiest Countries, Study Finds

Levels of charitable giving, volunteering, and assisting strangers have been trending down in some of the world's wealthiest countries, the tenth edition of an annual report from the Charities Aid Foundation finds.

Based on 2008-18 Gallup World Poll data from a hundred and twenty-eight countries, the CAF World Giving Index 2019 (28 pages, PDF) ranked the United States the most generous country over the ten-year period — with 72 percent of Americans ages 15 and older reporting they had helped a stranger, 61 percent saying they had given to charity, and 42 percent saying they had volunteered. Myanmar — where the predominant religion, Theravada Buddhism, mandates giving to monastic temples and 81 percent of respondents reported making a cash donation — ranked second, followed by New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia.

At the same time, the study found a downward trend over the ten-year period in the aggregate scores for Canada, the U.S., the UK, Ireland, and the Netherlands, with levels of individual giving falling below where they were in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. By contrast, Indonesia was the only country in the top ten to have improved its aggregate score in recent years, with its score having risen the most over the past decade among the hundred and twenty-eight countries in the sample, followed by Kenya, Singapore, Malaysia, Iraq, South Africa, Haiti, Rwanda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the United Arab Emirates.

The study ranked Liberia first in terms of share of population that reported helping a stranger, followed by Sierra Leone, the U.S., Kenya, and Zambia, while the top five countries for cash donations were Myanmar, the UK, Malta, Thailand, and the Netherlands and the top five for volunteering were Sri Lanka, Turkmenistan, Myanmar, Liberia, and the U.S.

"In taking a step back and looking at giving trends over ten years, we have created what we hope will serve as a roadmap to continue to grow giving in all its forms across the globe," said CAF chief executive John Low. "There are areas of concern, but also key moments of hope in parts of the world that have overcome true hardship. We know that there is no single solution to success. It is about hard work, shared values, and knowing in ourselves the inherent benefit to all of us when we work to improve the lives of our friends and neighbors, and strangers who need our help."

"Global Study of 1.3 Million People Points to Downward Trend in Generosity." Charities Aid Foundation Press Release 10/15/2019. "CAF World Giving Index 2019." Charities Aid Foundation Report 10/15/2019.