UK falls to eleventh place in World Giving Index

The Charities Aid Foundation's annual index put the UK in eighth last year; Myanmar has retained top spot

The UK has continued to slide down the list of the world’s most generous countries, the Charities Aid Foundation’s World Giving Index 2017 has revealed.

The UK fell three places from eighth in 2016 to 11th position on this year’s list, which gauges the generosity of countries by combining how much the public donate to good causes, how much time they spend volunteering and how likely they are to help strangers. The UK was in sixth place in the 2015 index.

The latest index, published today, is based on a survey of more than 146,000 people in 139 countries, asking whether they had in the past month donated to a good cause, volunteered or helped a stranger.

It says that 64 per cent of people in the UK said they had given money to charity, a fall of five percentage points on last year. The proportion of people in the UK who said they had helped a stranger fell by three percentage points on last year to 58 per cent, and those who said they had volunteered fell by five percentage points to 28 per cent.

Myanmar retains its position at the top of the list for the fourth year running, but has experienced a drop in its overall score, from 70 to 65 per cent.

Myanmar’s position at the top of the list is likely to be because of the high proportion of Buddhists in the country, the report says, but it acknowledges the achievement is likely to be contrasted with recent news stories about the treatment of the Rohingya Muslim minority in the country.

"At this point, it is important to remember that the World Giving Index measures only the charitable activities of the general population within a country, and does not take wider issues affecting society into account," the report says.

"As such, we make no attempt to rationalise negative or mitigating factors in the World Giving Index."

Generosity has reduced as a whole across the world, the report indicates, with participation in both donating money and helping a stranger down by 1.8 percentage points and volunteering down by 0.8 percentage points on last year.

Only six of the G20 countries appear in the top 20 and all have lower overall scores than last year.

Africa is the only continent to buck the trend, with an increase in its average score across all three behaviours when compared with its five-year average.

Sir John Low, chief executive of CAF, said it was too early to know if the overall fall in world giving was a cause for real concern, but it was a reminder not to take global generosity for granted.

"The big story this year is the amazing rise in giving across Africa," he said. "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 society.

"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."

Mike Smith, head of external affairs at the Institute of Fundraising, said: "We need to wait and see whether the fall in giving reported in this paper is simply an anomaly, or part of a trend.

"Donations from the public, from putting money in a collection box to leaving a gift to charity in a will, are vital. Asking people to donate to the causes they care about plays an essential role. About 81 per cent of people say that they donate to a charity only after being asked to do so."

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