Thursday, 27 October 2016

Charity Begins At Home.

We Brits like to believe that we're charitable souls. Look at the sponsored events we give to so generously, or the way we're happy to dress up in silly costumes for a day to raise money for Comic Relief. But where do we stand amidst the rest of the world when it comes to generosity?

The new World Giving Index has just been released, and it makes for interesting reading. The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) has gathered data from pollsters Gallup to open a window into the world of charitable giving. And the end result shows that Britain needs to up its game a little.

The metrics are based on three fundamental strands: donations, volunteering, and helping strangers. In one of those regards, we're doing well–seventh overall. But for acts of charity that require more than just popping a quid into a collection box, we're lagging behind countries like Turkmenistan and Myanmar.

Figures released by Gallup show that we're giving slightly less to charities, in fact, while figures for volunteering and what's called 'informal' volunteering (helping someone that isn't a relative without direct guidance from a charity) are stable or slightly up. Which is encouraging, but not a cause for major celebration.

As it turns out, our high standing in charitable donations makes the UK the most generous nation in Europe. However, we're part of a downward trend in charity action across the West. Meanwhile, Africa is the continent to watch, with a big rise in giving sparked by disaster relief. Nepal, Libya and Iraq all feature strongly in CAF's good books.

Should we be worried that we're becoming less likely to donate or volunteer? Not necessarily. Experts are careful to look at the figures as showing a stable rather than flatlining situation. We should hope that continues or improves. With a steep drop in UK government grants and subsidies, the sector is increasingly reliant on individual donations to be able to keep doing their good work.

The last word goes to CAF's director, John Low. He sums up why it's so important that we keep on giving :

“Unconditional gifts of time and money are a life-changing force for good in the world. As people become more prosperous and economies grow stronger, we have an opportunity to build an ever stronger culture of giving right across the world.”

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