South Africans more generous in Covid-19 times, new study finds

06 July 2021 - 16:18 By nivashni nair
Social grant recipients queue to collect their money in Soshanguve, near Pretoria. A new global study showed SA moved from 45 to 21 out of 114 countries on the World Giving Index. File photo.
Social grant recipients queue to collect their money in Soshanguve, near Pretoria. A new global study showed SA moved from 45 to 21 out of 114 countries on the World Giving Index. File photo.
Image: ALAISTER RUSSELL

South Africans became more charitable while Covid-19 affected global generosity.

A new global study shows SA moved from 45 to 21 out of 114 countries on the World Giving Index.

For the first time since the survey, run by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), began, five major western economies have fallen off the list of the top 10 most generous countries.

The CAF’s World Giving Index is a global survey that has interviewed more than 1.6 million people since 2009. Every year it asks participants whether they have helped a stranger, given money or volunteered for a good cause over the past month.

For the latest edition, data was gathered in 114 countries, representing more than 90% of the world’s population. The rankings produced were not based on the amounts given nor the number of volunteer hours worked.

Indonesia, which topped the list in 2018, was again found to be the most generous country.

Kenya and Nigeria were in positions two and three, Ghana at six and Uganda at eight.

The survey showed the impact of lockdowns on charitable giving as the US, Canada, Ireland, the UK and the Netherlands all fell out of the highest rankings.

Only Australia and New Zealand, where the survey was undertaken in the weeks before the first wave of the pandemic took hold, maintained their top 10 positions.

“The presence of so many African countries within the top 10 is reassuring,” said chief executive of CAF Southern Africa, Gill Bates.

Bates said while major western countries have seen a sharp drop in their giving behaviours, African giving and generosity remained constant or growing.

“We are particularly pleased SA has improved its score ranking from 45 to 21, despite the pandemic. This is testament to the care and consideration South Africans show to each other.”

CAF chief executive Neil Heslop said this year’s index made for sombre reading as it laid bare the lost potential to support charities that was the result of lockdowns around the world.

“They undoubtedly saved many lives, but for charities that relied on fundraising events, spontaneous cash donations and an army of volunteers, the shuttering of economies has had a profound and lasting impact,” he said.

“While we commend the countries that have moved up this year’s index and the people reflected in these numbers who gave generously of their time and money we know there is a job to be done to rebuild societies ravaged by the loss of funds going to charities, particularly from the world’s larger economies.

“We are hopeful the tremendous levels of generosity we have seen across our network will translate into a new era of support for the charities that have been there for communities when it mattered the most. We are committed to playing our part to get vital funding to charities and, in so doing, to accelerating social progress across the world.”

Other key findings include:

  • Several countries have moved up the rankings and make their first appearance in the top 10, including Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda and Kosovo. While their overall giving scores have increased, their rise up the index is also driven by the relative decline of other countries.
  • Communities around the world mobilised to help fellow citizens as the pandemic took hold, resulting in the highest “helped a stranger” figures since the index was launched in 2009.
  • More than half (55%) of the survey’s respondents reported helping someone they didn’t know in 2020.
  • Similarly, more people donated money in 2020 than had done so in the last five years (31%). Levels of volunteering in 2020 were broadly unchanged at a global level.

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