Global Share of Those Giving to Charity Fell in 2017, Report Finds

Global Share of Those Giving to Charity Fell in 2017, Report Finds

The share of the world's population age 15 or older who report giving money to charity fell slightly for the second consecutive year in 2017, an annual report from the Charities Aid Foundation finds.

Based on data from the Gallup World Poll, an ongoing research project carried out in more than 146 countries, the 2018 edition of the CAF World Giving Index (44 pages, PDF) found that 29.1 percent of the more than 150,000 people surveyed in 2017 said they had made a cash donation to a charity, down from 29.6 percent in 2016, while 21.1 percent said they had volunteered, up from 20.8 percent, and 51.1 percent said they had helped a stranger, up from 49.6 percent. While the share of those making a cash donation rose in developed nations (from 40 percent to 42 percent), it fell in developing nations (from 25 percent to 24 percent) as well as among older people, who traditionally have been the most likely to give. 

According to the report, the combination of an upward trend in giving in Africa, a slight downward trend in the Americas, and a fairly flat trend elsewhere has narrowed the giving gap between the continents. Excluding Oceania (which in the CAF survey includes only Australia and New Zealand), the gap between the lowest-scoring continent, Africa, and the second highest-scoring continent, Asia, has narrowed to just 1 percentage point, from 6 percentage points five years ago. 

Now in its ninth year, the index ranked Indonesia as the most generous country, with 78 percent of Indonesians saying they had donated money, 53 percent saying they had volunteered, and 46 percent saying they helped a stranger. Myanmar, which had topped the list for four years running, fell to ninth place, due largely to a drop in the share of its citizens who said they had volunteered, while the United States edged up to fourth place, after slipping from second to fifth last year. In addition, Haiti made its debut in the top twenty at number fourteen, with 54 percent of Haitians saying they had donated money, 31 percent saying they had volunteered, and 62 percent saying they had helped a stranger.

The report also notes high levels of generosity in some countries experiencing civil war, conflict, and unrest, including Libya, ranked the most generous country in terms of helping a stranger, with 83 percent of respondents reporting having done so.  

"It is forever humbling to see how people across the world continue to be moved to help others, giving their time, donating money, and helping strangers," said Charities Aid Foundation CEO Sir John Low. "It is a basic human instinct to lend a helping hand, and it is always amazing to see how people in countries which have suffered conflict and natural disasters are stirred to help those in need....But we should be concerned that for the second year running there has been a decline in the proportion of people donating money to good causes. It is a reminder to all of us in civil society that we should never take giving for granted."

"Charities Aid Foundation Press Release." Charities Aid Foundation Press Release 10/30/2018. "CAF World Giving Index 2018." Charities Aid Foundation Report 10/30/2018.