The lands Down Under have topped the first World Giving Index, with their populations exhibiting high levels of philanthropy, volunteerism and community-mindedness.
The first Charities Aid Foundation World Giving Index was released this morning, showing New Zealand and Australia in equal first position overall, ahead of the UK which came in at eighth.
The report authors claim that 95 per cent of the world’s population is represented in the survey, conducted by Gallup, which asked between 1,000 and 2,000 people in each country whether, within the last month, they had given money to charity, volunteered time to charity or helped a stranger.
Don Willesee, chief executive of CAF Australia, said that a combination of a cultural history of ‘mateship’ and government support, such as making all donations above £2 tax deductible, accounted for the country’s strong performance in the index.
“It’s a partnership between people wanting to give and government allowing people to give in a certain way,” he said.
Richard Harrison, director of research at CAF, said the survey had also found a stronger correlation between an individual’s happiness and satisfaction with their own lives and their propensity to give than between personal wealth and philanthropy. While acknowledging that wealth will have a bearing on life satisfaction, Harrison said the finding was “reassuring for philanthropy”.
The top five overall countries – Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland and Switzerland – had ‘wellbeing’ scores of over 7.0, compared to the UK’s overall wellbeing score of 5.6.
“There is more than enough evidence to suggest that giving makes you happy,” said Harrison, adding that a survey of CAF customers found that most gave for the feel-good factor. He went on to suggest that governments and campaigns wanting to build up civil society organisations could perhaps concentrate on this effect of philanthropy on individuals.
There are some surprise entrants into the top 20, with Sierra Leone coming in as equal 11th overall, and Turkmenistan, Guyana, Qatar and Guinea all scoring highly. Malta was the most philanthropic country, with 83 per cent of survey recipients saying they had given to charity within the last month.
UK performance shows volunteering stubbornly low
The UK came third equal with Thailand in terms of people’s giving money to charity, with 73 per cent having done so, but despite the push for volunteering by both the previous and current governments, it ranked only equal 29th, with Malaysia, in terms of volunteering. Some 29 per cent of Brits reported having volunteered within the last month.