By Daniel Hunter

The world became a less generous place last year — according to a new report. And, in a previously unrevealed trend, giving worldwide appears to be mirroring global economic patterns.

The sharp decline in global generosity in 2011 has led to what is being termed as a ‘double dip’ in giving.

The findings are revealed by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) in its annual World Giving Index, which is the most comprehensive report on charitable behaviour in the world.

According to the report, the proportion of people giving money to good causes, volunteering or helping a stranger all fell last year and were also down on 2007.

CAF, which is an international charity that promotes charitable giving and provides financial services and social finance to not-for-profit organisations, compiled the report using statistics produced by international polling company Gallup, who spoke to more than 155,000 people in 146 countries.

The report found that the average proportion of people across 146 countries donating money in the past month to charity fell from 29.8% in 2007 to 28% in 2011.

The percentage of people helping strangers in the past month was 45.1% in 2011 — down from 47.0% in 2007, while the proportion volunteering their time was down from 21.4% in 2007 to 18.4% in 2011.

Analysis of global giving over the past five years shows giving dropped in 2009, the year after the 2008 financial crisis, recovered in 2010, and then fell sharply again in 2011.

Overall the index, found that Australia was the most generous country on earth, followed in second place by Ireland. Canada was the third most charitable nation, New Zealand the fourth, and the United States the fifth.
The five next most generous countries were the Netherlands, Indonesia, the UK, Paraguay and Denmark respectively.

The two countries jointly at the bottom of the index were Greece and Montenegro.

Around the world, more women donated money than men in 2011, but men were more likely to volunteer time and help a stranger.

The report also indicates that there is a generational gap in giving worldwide.
Over the past five years, 16-24 year olds have been as much as 10 percentage points less likely than the over 50s to donate money.

On the three key indicators of giving money, giving time and helping a stranger, the report found that in 2011:

Giving Money

- India was the country with the largest number of people donating money, with 165m people giving money in the last month. The United States was second with 143m followed by Indonesia (126.2m) China (109m) and Thailand (39m).
- Ireland was the country with the biggest proportion of people giving money, with 79% of people donating money in the past month. Australia was ranked second (76%) followed by the Netherlands (73%) the UK (72%) and Indonesia (71%).

Giving Time

- The United States was the country with the largest number of people volunteering time, with 105m volunteers, followed by India (87m) Indonesia (72.8m) China (44m) and the Philippines (27m).
- Turkmenistan topped the list of countries with the highest proportion of people giving time (58%) followed by Liberia (53%) Uzbekistan (46%) Tajikistan (45%) and the Philippines (44%).

Helping a stranger

- Liberia had the largest proportion of people who helped a stranger in the past month (81%) followed by Oman (72%) Qatar (71%) Sierra Leone (71%) and the United States (71%).
- China had the largest number of people who helped a stranger in the past month (283m) followed by the United States (178m) India (165m) Indonesia (76m) and Brazil (65m).

“This report shows that giving is susceptible to fragility in world economic conditions. It shows a notable drop in giving despite of growth in global GDP," John Low, Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said.

“In large parts of the world, household incomes are being squeezed, prices are rising and job insecurity is on the increase, with the result that many simply less have time and money to spare.

“As our report shows, trends in worldwide giving appear to mirror those in the global economy and we are now experiencing a double dip in giving.

“It is truly humbling that hundreds of millions of people around the world donate their time, money and help strangers. But our report lays bare how our global generosity is reflects the economic backdrop.

“With the worrying decline in giving and support for charity, it is critical that politicians, businesses and people across the world take action to support charities and those who depend on their vital work.”

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