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As Global Generosity Grows, South African Giving Sees A Decline

SAPF • 22 September 2022

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CAF World Giving Index launches in New York on 22 September, 2022

More people across the globe donated money to charity and helped a stranger last year than in any year of the previous decade, according to the Charities Aid Foundation’s World Giving Index (WGI) 2022.

However, this global trend in giving is not reflected in South Africa’s WGI 2022 results, as the country saw significant declines in scores between 2017 and 2021 in two of the three giving behaviours.

Three in five people (62%) reported helping a stranger in 2021, down from 65% in 2020, and 72% in 2017. Volunteering fell to 28% in 2021 from 31% in 2020, and 34% in 2017. Added to this, the proportion of people who donated money fell by 12 percentage points, from 28% in 2020 to 16% in 2021, returning to the levels of donating money that were recorded in 2017.

This has resulted in South Africa’s overall Index score and global ranking falling in 2021. South Africa now has an index score of 35%, a decrease of 6 percentage points, ranking #87 from #21 in 2020.

Gill Bates, Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation Southern Africa, said:

“While the World Giving Index 2022 figures for South Africa are certainly disheartening, they’re not wholly surprising. The resilient, generous spirit of South Africans can still be felt in our country, however we believe that the immense economic and social pressures felt throughout the population has had an impact on our giving behaviours.”

“With the incredibly high unemployment rate in South Africa, as well as increased interest rates and living costs, we have seen a rise in poverty, as well as a shrinking of our middle class. There have also been violent protests and natural disasters in parts of the country, and the COVID-19 safety protocols also put restrictions on in-person volunteering. The fact is that while the needs have increased, fewer South Africans have had the financial means or capacity to donate or volunteer.”

The WGI 2022 reveals that around the world, 3 billion people helped someone they didn’t know last year, increasing by approximately half a billion compared to prior to the pandemic.  Around 200 million more people also donated money to charity worldwide, with donations rising by 10% in high-income economies.

The World Giving Index is one of the biggest surveys into giving ever produced with nearly 2 million people interviewed since 2009. This year’s Index includes data from 119 countries, representing more than 90% of the global adult population. People around the world are asked three questions: have they helped a stranger, given money or volunteered for a good cause over the past month? Produced by CAF, the World Giving Index will launch during the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, at an event in New York to discuss the role of the private sector in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

For the fifth year in a row, the world’s most generous country is Indonesia, followed by Kenya in second place. Many high-income countries returned to the top 10, having seen a steep decline in volunteering and giving since 2018 which accelerated during the pandemic. In addition to the United States in third place, Australia (4), New Zealand (5), and Canada (8) join the world’s most generous countries.

The United Kingdom ranks 17th overall, up from 22nd in 2020, largely due to many lower-income countries also increasing their scores and rising the Index.

Ukraine came out 10th in the Index, rising from 20th in the previous year, and is the only European country occupying a place in the top 10. The high score from data collected prior to the 2022 conflict reflects the new ways to engage with charity which emerged in Ukraine, along with an increase in living standards and the need that was created by the pandemic.

Neil Heslop OBE, Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said:

“Giving takes different forms around the globe, and even the definitions of what constitutes charity and generosity differ across cultures. Our World Giving Index aims to measure generosity as expressed through three human behaviours. Encouragingly, the overall Index score has increased, indicating that people around the world have been engaging more in generous actions than during the previous year.

“Against an uncertain economic, social, and political backdrop, the World Giving Index improves our understanding about global giving. Covid-19 has affected the world’s poorest and vulnerable the most, which has also disrupted progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Private donors and businesses are likely to be called upon to fill funding gaps and charities will need to work out how best to direct their limited funding for the greatest impact. However, in the wake of two difficult years and with further challenges likely to come, we continue to see great instances of global generosity.”

World Giving Index 2022 Top 20 countries:

Table of overall rankings

Notes to Editors:

  1. CAF World Giving Index 2022
  2. For more information please contact:
  3. See more information on the event in New York, including a livestream.
  4. Methodology: The CAF World Giving Index is based on data from Gallup’s World View World Poll, which is an ongoing research project carried out in more than 100 countries and, together, represents more than 90% of the world’s adult population. The survey asks questions on many different aspects of life today including giving behaviour. The countries surveyed and questions asked in each region vary from year to year and are determined by Gallup. More detail on Gallup’s methodology can be viewed online.
  5. Charities Aid Foundation is a group of three charities based in Canada, the United States of America and the United Kingdom specialising in safe and effective cross-border giving. Together, we work with companies and philanthropists to support them to ensure that money reaches the causes at the heart of their giving plans. In the UK, CAF also operates CAF Bank, offering dedicated banking and support to more than 14,000 UK-based charities.

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