The UK has fallen from sixth to 22nd place in the latest Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) World Giving Index as the pandemic reduced the opportunities people have to give.
Indonesia has the highest overall score at 69%, followed by Kenya (58%), Nigeria (52%), Myanmar (51%) and Australia (49%).
The index is based on data from Gallup’s World View World Poll gathered in 2020, an ongoing research project in 114 countries. It asks a representative sample of people in each country about different aspects of life, including donating, volunteering and helping a stranger.
Due to the pandemic, Gallup switched to telephone interviews, where it would previously have spoken to people face-to-face.
The most recent comparable data is from the 2018 report, when data was collected in 2017.
In 2018, Gallup changed aspects of how it asks questions related to giving, so CAF did not publish the findings of data collected while it monitored the impact of these changes.
Overall, the UK’s overall score in the 2021 report was 41%, down from 55% in 2018.
The UK remains in the top 10 when ranked on donations. With 59% of respondents saying that they had given money to charity in the last month, the UK came in sixth place. However, this is still down on the 2018 report when it was 68%.
There was a significant drop in the number of UK respondents saying that they had helped a stranger. In this year’s report 43% of UK respondents have helped a stranger, whereas in 2018 it was 63%.
Volunteering also saw a drop. In 2021, 22% of UK respondents volunteered, whereas in 2018’s report it was 33%.
Lost opportunities to fundraise
CAF says that lockdown in the UK, and elsewhere, meant that there were fewer opportunities for people to donate and help than in previous years.
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.
“We know that lockdowns saved lives and protected the NHS, but for the thousands of charities that rely on fundraising events, on spontaneous cash donations and on an army of volunteers, the shuttering of the economy has left a black hole in their finances estimated at more than £10bn.
“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.”
The United States of America and Ireland also dropped out of the top 10 this year.
Indeed, CAF’s report notes: “Some of the countries with very well-established charitable traditions and highly developed civic infrastructure are amongst this year’s biggest fallers.”
The USA has always previously held a top 10 spot but dropped to 19th this year.
Elsewhere the report notes that religious giving continues to be a strong factor. Countries that practice Theravada Buddhism, which involves a “quasi-mandatory religious giving” such as Myanmar and Thailand continued to score highly.
Similarly, the report says that Zakat, a traditional form of Islamic charity, which is practised widely in Indonesia, this year’s most generous county, was “particularly high in 2020 in response to the pandemic”.
Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda and Kosovo all made their first appearance in the top 10, however CAF says this is largely down to the decline of other countries and not significant behaviour change in these countries.
Six in 10 of of the countries most likely to help strangers were in Africa. CAF attributes this to ubuntu, a philosophy it describes as “the capacity in African culture to express compassion, reciprocity, dignity, humanity and mutuality in the interesting of building and maintaining communities with justice and mutual caring”.