Lockdown contributes to UK falling out of top 20 most generous countries for first time

The UK has dropped out of the top 20 most generous countries in the world for the first time after lockdown hampered nationwide fundraising efforts during the pandemic, according to new research.

The Charities Aid Foundation’s World Giving Index saw the UK tumble from seventh place in the 10th anniversary survey, published in October 2019, to 22nd place this time around.

The UK peaked at fifth in the ranking in 2011 but fell to 11th, its previous low, in 2017.

The index is a global survey that collects information from 114 countries, representing over 90 per cent of the global adult population.

CAF said that since 2009, more than 1.6 million people had been interviewed for the index, with the data being derived from the polling firm Gallup’s world poll, which quizzes people on a range of lifestyle issues, including giving behaviour.

The survey asks whether respondents have helped a stranger, given money or volunteered over the past month and gives marks in each area. It then ranks each country based on its scores.

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

The least generous country among the 114 surveyed was Japan, down from 22nd place in 2018, followed by Portugal and Belgium.

Researchers found that the 10 lowest-ranked countries, similar to the top 10, appeared to have little in common in terms of giving behaviour.

The rules around giving in Japan for example are complex, the report says, while for countries such as Belgium, the reasons were more likely to be cultural.

This year’s survey highlights the impact of lockdowns on charitable giving in several major economies, all of which have fallen sharply in the rankings, among them the US, Canada, Ireland and the Netherlands.

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.

The UK did maintain its top 10 ranking when it came to donating money to charity (seventh overall), but the number of people reporting that they had done so saw its biggest year-on-year drop, signalling that lockdowns affected all three gauges of generosity.

In addition, the number of people who reported donating money fell from 67 per cent in 2019 to 59 per cent in 2020.

The proportion of respondents who said they had helped a stranger dropped from 60 per cent to 43 per cent, while those who said they had volunteered fell from 34 per cent in 2019 to 22 per cent in 2020.

Communities around the world mobilised to help fellow citizens as the pandemic took hold, said researchers, resulting in the highest overall “helped a stranger” figures since the index began in 2009.

Based on the survey, more than half of the world’s adults, or three billion people, helped someone they did not know in 2020.

Similarly, more people globally donated money in 2020 than had done so in the past five years (31 per cent), but levels of volunteering in 2020 were broadly unchanged.

Neil Heslop, chief executive of CAF, 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 the UK’s lockdowns.

“It is time now, as we begin to recover, to put that right, and we will do our part to help get vital funds to charities so that they are able to not just survive, but thrive once again.”

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