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Despite pandemic, SA has rallied in charitable giving - global survey

The results from the Charities Aid Foundation's (CAF) World Giving Index has laid bare the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic on charitable giving. While South Africa rallied, moving from 45 to 21 out of 114 countries, five major western economies have fallen out of the list of the top 10 most generous countries - a first since the survey was launched in 2009.
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Every year, it asks participants whether they have helped a stranger, given money or volunteered for a good cause over the past month. For this edition, data was gathered in 114 countries, representing over 90% of the world’s population. The rankings produced were not based on the amounts given or the number of volunteer hours worked.

The survey found that the world’s most generous country is Indonesia, which also topped the list in 2018. Indonesia is followed by Kenya and Nigeria in positions two and three, Ghana at six and Uganda at eight.

Despite pandemic, SA has rallied in charitable giving - global survey

Impact of lockdowns


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 positions.

“The presence of so many African countries within the top 10 is reassuring,” says Gill Bates, CEO of CAF Southern Africa. “While major western countries have seen a sharp drop in their giving behaviours, African giving and generosity have remained constant or growing. We are particularly pleased that South Africa has improved its score ranking from 45 to 21, despite the pandemic. This is testament to the care and consideration South Africans show to each other.”

Despite pandemic, SA has rallied in charitable giving - global survey

Other key findings include:

  • Several countries have moved up the rankings and make their first appearance in the top 10, including Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda and Kosovo. While their overall giving scores have increased somewhat, their rise up the index is also 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 survey's respondents 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 a global level.

In a special tenth anniversary report released in 2019, the US 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.


'Profound and lasting impact'


Neil Heslop, CAF chief executive, 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, spontaneous cash donations and 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.”

Download the full report here.

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