The share of the world's population age 15 or older who report giving money or time to charity or helping a stranger fell slightly overall in 2016, although it rose in Africa, an annual report from the Charities Aid Foundation finds.
According to the 2017 edition of the CAF World Giving Index (48 pages, PDF), 49.6 percent of the 146,000 people interviewed in 139 countries said they helped a stranger in the past month, down from 51.4 percent in 2015. The global share of those who donated money or volunteered also fell slightly, to 29.6 percent and 20.8 percent, down from 31.4 percent and 21.6 percent in 2015. The drop was most notable in developed nations, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, which each fell three places in the World Giving Index score rankings, and New Zealand, which retained its fourth-place ranking but saw a 2 percentage point drop in its score. With 73 percent of U.S. respondents saying they had helped a stranger, 56 percent donating money, and 41 percent volunteering in the past month — compared with 73 percent, 63 percent, and 46 percent in 2015 — the U.S. slipped from second place to fifth, its lowest ranking since 2011, while its Giving Index score fell 4 points to 56.
For the fourth consecutive year, the index ranked Myanmar as the most generous country, with 53 percent of respondents there saying they had helped a stranger, 91 percent reporting they had donated money, and 51 percent saying they had volunteered. The only continent to see growth across all three categories (against a five-year average) was Africa. In fact, 20 percent of the nations ranked in the top twenty — Kenya, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Zambia — are in Africa, while eight — Ghana, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Liberia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Tunisia — saw their scores increase by more than 5 percentage points.
"The big story this year is the amazing rise in giving across Africa," said Sir John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation. "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."