The World Giving Index Reveals Rise in African Giving

The Charities Aid Foundation’s World Giving Index measures charitable giving towards people and organizations, and volunteering levels across countries around the world. In its most recent report, a study of giving around the world in 2016, Africa stands out as the only continent experiencing growth in giving levels, compared to its previous five year average. According to the report, giving across the African continent grew in all three dimensions of the World Giving Index: “Helping a stranger” increased by 2 percentage points; “Donating money to charity” by 1 percentage point; and “Volunteering time” by 2 percentage points. This is the second year in a row that African giving has risen despite economic, political, and security challenges in many countries.

Here are some key data points from the report highlighting the performance of African countries:

  • Four African countries (Kenya, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Zambia) are listed in the top 20 for having the highest scores and participation in giving across the world.
  • Kenya, Liberia, and Sierra Leone ranked top ten in the “helping a stranger” and “volunteering time” categories; with Kenya holding fourth place among the 139 countries surveyed.
  • 11 African countries ranked in the top twenty for “giving to strangers” category.
  • Eight out of the 13 most improved giving scores (five percentage points or higher than their 2015 scores) are African countries (Ghana, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Liberia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Tunisia).
  • No African country made it to the top fifteen in the “donating money to charity” category. Kenya is the first African country on the list and only ranks 20th, while Mauritius follows in 48th place in this category.

The increase in African giving is noteworthy and indicative of a stronger awareness around giving as defined by the index. On a broader scale, however, giving fell by a cumulative 5.7 percentage points across all three dimensions particularly in developed countries. Giving in the United States and United Kingdom fell by more than 3 percentage points each, while only six of the G20 countries featured among the top 20 in the World Giving Index. This trend debunks the assumption of a positive relationship between wealth and giving. It also demonstrates a more intricate link between giving and cultural or personal motivations.

Myanmar, a lower middle income country that has topped the index for the past four years is a good example that demonstrates this link. Myanmar’s sustained giving, at least in part, is linked to the practice of Buddhism as about 80 percent of Burmese practice Theravada Buddhism which admonishes followers to donate towards the religion’s monastic community. African countries are great examples as well. Helping others and giving to individuals is fundamental to African culture. Additionally, individual, corporate, and religious giving are becoming important sources of philanthropy in many parts of the continent.

Click to view the full report at the Charities Aid Foundation website.


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