In 2017, an estimated 1.4 billion people around the world gave money to a charity, a billion volunteered their time to a nonprofit, and 2.2 billion helped a stranger in need, a report from Gallup finds.
Based on interviews with more than a hundred and fifty-three thousand people age 15 and older in a hundred and forty-six countries, the 2018 World's Most Generous Countries Report (13 pages, PDF) found that, on average, 27 percent of respondents said they had given to charity, 18 percent had volunteered, and 43 percent had helped a stranger in the past month. Based on a composite score of the three metrics in each country, the Civic Engagement Index ranked Indonesia — where 78 percent of respondents gave to charity and 53 percent volunteered — as the most generous country overall, followed by Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and Ireland. While Americans were the ninth most likely to volunteer (39 percent) and tenth most likely to help a stranger (72 percent), they did not rank in the top ten for giving to charity.
Myanmar, which has a strong Buddhist tradition of giving to and volunteering at temples, had topped the list for many years and retained the top spot for giving to a charity in 2017 but fell to ninth place overall, with the percentage of people volunteering and helping strangers in need dropping to new lows for the country. Countries with the lowest Civic Engagement Index scores included China, Yemen, the Palestinian territories, and Greece.
"[T]his report suggests one important thing: You don't need to be rich to give back," writes Jon Clifton, global managing partner at Gallup, in the report's introduction. "Some countries where people have far less to give are among the most generous. Indonesia, Kenya, and Myanmar all rank among the highest in the world on Gallup's Civic Engagement Index. The report also sheds light on how generous the whole world is. With all the reports about crime, war, and terrorism served up daily in the media, it may surprise you to find out how many people are actively working to make the world a better place."