World Giving Index 2014

Generosity is a universal human trait. Yet people in some countries are more giving than others, and it is not because they have more money.

According to the most recent World Giving Index, published in November 2014 by the Charities Aid Foundation, tiny Myanmar and the United States were tied for first place as most charitable nations, based on donations, volunteer work and helping strangers. That, the report concludes, shows “once again that we must not take it for granted that economic prosperity will automatically equal a rise in generosity.”

In fact, the index shows that, despite continual unrest and a low rate of human progress, a remarkable 91% of the population in Myanmar donated to charity, while 51% did volunteer work and 49% said they helped a stranger.

In the U.S., 68% of the population donated to charity, while 79% helped strangers and 44% did volunteer work. Canada, Ireland and New Zealand followed Myanmar and the U.S. as the most charitable countries.

The Index presents giving data from 135 companies across the globe over a five-year period (2009-2013), including data collected by Gallup Polls as part of their World Poll Survey.

For charities planning their strategies, implications of the report are many:

  • The unique culture and predilections for giving in each country must shape nonprofits’ approaches.
  • Income is not all that matters. Only one of the 15 countries showing the greatest increase in giving is classified by The World Bank as high income.
  • Only five of the countries in report’s Top 20 are members of the G20, a group representing the world’s largest economies. In fact, eleven G20 countries are ranked outside of the Top 50, and three of these are even outside the Top 100!
  • Before people will give money to charitable organizations, they have to trust that their money will be well spent. That requires clear communication and clear accountability.
  • People like to feel that they can change someone’s life, which is why they’ll give time and hands-on help as well as money. Any appeal must contain more than numbers and charts.
  • Donors give when emotionally moved, but they don’t want to feel the need is so enormous that they can’t make a difference.
  • Once you connect with donors, you need to engage with them through multiple channels in new ways in order to retain them.
  • Social media has forever changed philanthropy. It is an increasingly effective way to connect and engage with supporters. Innovairre’s Social Synchronization Platform can help.

– Don McKenzie is President & Chief Growth Officer of Innovairre, which supports over 500 nonprofit organizations around the world. Don can be reached at