- This story has been corrected; please see final paragraph
The UK is the highest-rated European country and ranked fourth in the world for charitable giving as a proportion of gross domestic product, according to a new paper from the Charities Aid Foundation.
The latest CAF report, Gross Domestic Philanthropy: An International Analysis of GDP, Tax and Giving, revisits a 2006 CAF briefing paper called International Comparisons of Charitable Giving. The latest report shows the UK has fallen from second to fourth in the world when ranked for giving as a percentage of GDP – down from 0.73 per cent to 0.54 per cent.
Although only 12 countries featured in the 2006 paper, compared with 24 in the new report, the three that were ranked higher this time – the US, New Zealand and Canada – all featured in the research in 2006.
But in terms of the amount actually given to charity, the UK had the second-highest figure of the countries researched on $17.4bn, significantly behind the US on $258.5bn.
Different methods of data collection were used for each of the countries included in the study. The UK’s results were based on a survey featuring face-to-face meetings with 5,020 people, carried out in 2014, which asked participants if they had made a charitable donation over the past four weeks.
The latest CAF report says there is no correlation between the percentage donated by individuals to charity and measures of personal taxation, such as income tax, corporation tax rates and government expenditure as a percentage of GDP. But the study says there is a negative correlation between employer social security charges and charitable giving.
The report says there is a correlation between charitable giving and other aspects of giving such as volunteering time and helping strangers.
"That this behaviour is seen across a broad range of countries may mean that a broader push to engage in volunteering time could yield results in terms of money donated to philanthropic causes," the report concludes.
Adam Pickering, international policy manager at CAF, said the report’s findings suggested the relationship between the amount of taxes people paid and the amount they gave to charity was not as clear-cut as some might have thought.
"The factors that motivate people to give and influence how much they give are incredibly complex," he said.
"The lack of standardised reporting on charitable giving makes it difficult to arrive at definitive conclusions. But we hope this analysis leads to further, more informed discussions about the impact economic factors like tax and overall GDP have on charitable giving."
The latest CAF report calls on countries to collect standardised data, increase the availability of the data online and publish it in the appropriate official languages and a single language globally to help future comparisons.
- The article previously said that the UK survey was carried out over a four-week period.