Giving Index Finds Over Half of Adults Worldwide Helped a Stranger

The share of the world's population age 15 or older who report giving money or time to charity or helping a stranger continued to grow in 2016, an annual report from the Charities Aid Foundation finds.

According to the 2016 edition of the CAF World Giving Index (48 pages, PDF), 51.4 percent of the 148,000 people surveyed in 140 countries reported helping a stranger in the past month, up from 49.2 percent in 2015. The global share of those who donated money to or volunteered for a charity also rose slightly, to 31.4 percent and 21.6 percent, up from 31.3 percent and 21 percent in 2015.

The index ranked Myanmar, where 63 percent of survey respondents said they had helped a stranger in the past month, 91 percent gave to charity, and 55 percent volunteered their time, as the most generous country, followed by the United States (73 percent, 63 percent, and 46 percent, respectively) and Australia (68 percent, 73 percent, and 40 percent). The highest percentages of people who said they had helped a stranger, however, were found in areas of conflict, including Iraq (81 percent), Libya (79 percent), and Somalia (77 percent), suggesting that increasingly fragile civil societies coupled with greater need may be encouraging more people to help others out of sheer necessity. The report also found that, among continents, Africa saw the largest increase in the index's overall generosity score.

"The generosity of people, even in countries suffering from disaster and turmoil, is truly humbling," said John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, an international charity that works to motivate people, companies, and society to give more effectively. "It's amazing that more than half the people in the world said they helped a stranger. In every country, people have this in-built desire to give and help others. Governments should encourage that spirit of generosity and create the environment in which a strong civil society can flourish, allowing people to reach out to those less fortunate than themselves."

"New Global League Table of Giving Shows World Becomes More Generous Than Ever." Charities Aid Foundation Press Release 10/25/2016. "CAF World Giving Index 2016." Charities Aid Foundation Report 10/25/2016.