Which nation is the most generous in the world?

The World Giving Index

Indonesia is the most generous nation in the world, followed by Kenya, Nigeria and Myanmar. Ghana, Uganda, Kosovo and Thailand are also in the Top 10 of the World Giving Index.

In this year’s Top 10 the only European nation listed is Kosovo, also one of the poorest in Europe. The United States used to shine, but this nation plummeted to place 19. Only two high income nations held their ranking: Australia and New Zealand. At the bottom of the list we find Japan, accompanied by three European nations: Portugal, Belgium and Italy.

It is a sobering reminder that generosity has nothing to do with material wealth. It is a matter of the heart. A widow's mite can still make more difference than a rich man’s gold.

The London based Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) has been producing the World Giving Index for more than a decade, based on Gallup data. The report includes the results of 1.6 million individuals interviewed across the globe since 2009. The result is one of the biggest surveys into giving ever produced.

The study looks at three aspects of giving behaviour and asks: “Have you done any of the following in the past month: 1) Helped a stranger or someone you didn’t know who needed help? 2) Donated money to a charity? 3) Volunteered your time to an organisation?”

The first Index was published in the wake of the global financial crisis, and now we have the opportunity to look at how a new global crisis – the Covid-19 pandemic – has impacted giving around the world. The extraordinary events of the past year have reinforced the importance of civil society and international collaboration.

The key findings of the 2021 World Giving Index:

1) Indonesia is ranked first with a score of 69

More than eight in ten Indonesians donated money this year and the country’s rate of volunteering is more than three times the global average. A specific driver for giving is the widely practiced islamic ‘zakat’ charity to support the needy, and the cultural practice of mutual aid. See this article for a more in-depth analysis.

2) The Top 10 most generous countries has changed substantially in 2020

Many of the countries which have consistently featured in the Top 10 have fallen far down the rankings in this report. The United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland and the Netherlands have all seen significant decreases in their Index scores. In their place are several countries new to the Top 10 – Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda and Kosovo. The only high income countries in the Top 10 are Australia and New Zealand.

3) More than three billion people helped someone they didn’t know in 2020

Globally, more people reported that they helped a stranger in 2020 than ever recorded before in the World Giving Index. Helping a stranger is the most commonly performed of giving behaviours across the world – over half (55%) the world’s adult population did so in 2020.

4) Despite, or perhaps because of, the pandemic, donating money is up across the globe

More people donated money in 2020 than had done so in the last five years (31%) whilst levels of volunteering in 2020 remained relatively unaffected at the global level. Two of the biggest risers are Georgia and Paraguay, and the large populous nations China and India also increased their giving.

The Covid pandemic has had a huge impact on giving across the globe – be it the surge of people who helped a stranger around the world as the crisis struck, the increasing generosity of African nations or the devastating impact of the lost opportunities to volunteer and fundraise that we are seeing in some of the world’s most generous countries. The report shows an upended Index for 2020, and we have to see whether or not these trends are reversed as the pandemic recedes.