Global study of charitable giving upended by Covid-19 lockdowns, Uganda amongst top 10 givers

An annual survey of global generosity has laid bare the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic on charitable giving as five major western economies fell out of the top 10 most generous countries for the first time.

The Charities Aid Foundation’s World Giving Index is a global survey which has interviewed more than 1.6 million people since 2009 and asks each of them three questions: have they helped a stranger, given money or volunteered for a good cause over the past month? For this edition, data has been included for 114 countries, representing over 90% of the global adult population. The rankings produced are not based on the amounts given or the number of volunteer hours spent.

The survey found that the world’s most generous country is Indonesia, which also topped the list in 2018. It is followed by Kenya and Nigeria.

This year’s survey highlights the impact of lockdowns on charitable giving as the USA, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands all fell out of the highest rankings. Only Australia and New Zealand, where the survey was undertaken in the weeks before the first wave of the pandemic took hold, maintained their top 10 rankings.

Other key findings:

Several countries have moved up the rankings and make their first appearance in the top 10, including Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda and Kosovo. Uganda’s generosity was rated in 8th overall in the World Giving Index

But whilst their overall giving scores have increased somewhat, their rise up the Index is driven by the relative decline of other countries.

Communities around the world mobilised to help fellow citizens as the pandemic took hold, resulting in the highest ‘helped a stranger’ figures since the index was first launched in 2009. More than half (55%) of the world’s adults – or 3 billion people – reported helping someone they didn’t know in 2020.

Similarly, more people donated money in 2020 than had done so in the last five years (31%). Levels of volunteering in 2020 are broadly unchanged at the global level.

In a special 10th anniversary report released in 2019, the United States of America was the world’s most generous country over the previous decade and seven of the 10 most generous nations were among the world’s wealthiest. 

Neil Heslop, Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, an international charity which helps companies and people deliver safe and effective cross-border giving, said:

“This year’s World Giving Index makes for sombre reading as it lays bare the lost potential to support charities that was the result of lockdowns around the world.

“They undoubtedly saved many lives, but for charities that relied on fundraising events, on spontaneous cash donations and on an army of volunteers, the shuttering of economies has had a profound, and lasting impact.

“While we commend the countries that have moved up this year’s index – and the people reflected in these numbers who gave generously of their time and money – we know that there is a job to be done to rebuild societies ravaged by the loss of funds going to charities, particularly from the world’s larger economies.

“We are hopeful that the tremendous levels of generosity that we have seen across our network will translate into a new era of support for the charities that have been there for communities when it mattered the most.

“We are committed to playing our part to get vital funding to charities and, in so doing, to accelerating social progress across the world. ”

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