The UK has dropped from fifth to eighth place in a league table of the world’s most generous countries, according to new figures from the Charities Aid Foundation.
The World Giving Index 2012 ranks 146 countries based on the proportion of people that make charitable donations, volunteer their time and would help a stranger.
Researchers at the polling company Gallup surveyed more than 155,000 people during 2011 for the third annual report.
The survey found that 72 per cent of Britons gave money to good causes in the previous month, which was down seven percentage points from 79 per cent in 2010.
The percentage of people that said they had helped a stranger in the previous month was down to 56 per cent from 63 per cent in 2010. Volunteering has also fallen to 26 per cent from 28 per cent in 2010.
The UK was ranked fourth in terms of the proportion of people donating to charity, with Ireland first on 79 per cent, but was eighth overall when the three types of giving were aggregated.
Australia was ranked first this year, followed by Ireland and Canada. New Zealand was fourth, followed by last year’s number one the US.
Liberia had the highest percentage of people helping a stranger (81 per cent) and Turkmenistan had the most people volunteering time (58 per cent).
Overall, the world was a less generous place in 2011 compared with 2010, the report found.
John Low, chief executive of CAF, said: "Trends in worldwide giving appear to mirror those in the global economy and we are now experiencing a double dip in giving."
Global participation in all three types of giving was at its lowest level in 2009, the year after the global financial crisis struck in 2008. It increased in 2010, but fell again in 2011.
Low said: "Britain remains one of the most generous countries in the world and it is fantastic that so many people still give their time and money to support the causes they care about.
"But with fewer people in Britain donating money, volunteering time and helping a stranger, it is little surprise that many charities are facing a tough time. With significant public spending cuts also coming through, many charities are having to dip into reserves and close front-line services, while one in six are even contemplating closure. It has never been more important to back charities in Britain and around the world."