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How generous are Australians?

Australia has ranked second highest in the World Giving Index, but developed countries could do more to encourage volunteering

Australia is the second most generous country in the world, having surpassed others in helping strangers, volunteering time and donating money to charities.

The Charities and Aid Foundation (CAF) World Giving Index gives a glimpse into generosity trends across the globe, and this year demonstrated an overall increase in worldwide giving compared to 2016’s results.

Myanmar topped the list across all three behaviour topics, but Australia and New Zealand followed closely behind with just 1,5 per cent between them.

CAF Chief Executive, Sir John Low, said: “The levels of generosity we see in countries is truly humbling, particularly when it shows huge support for others in countries which have suffered years of conflict, war or instability.

“That really demonstrates our shared human values shining through.”

CAF welcomed the reversal of decline witnessed in the 2016 report but warned that the number of people across the world who have donated is still at its lowest point since 2013. Countries, much like Australia, have also fallen behind in volunteering.

Although having demonstrated significant generosity in donating to charities, with 71 per cent of the population donating in 2017, Australia fell behind in the volunteering index with just 40 per cent of Australians having helped a charity or community group.

In terms of donating, Myanmar and Indonesia topped the list, propelled by natural disasters and the population’s desire to help. Australia followed closely behind.

Across the globe, donating money to a charity has declined in developing countries. It has also declined among older age groups who historically were the most giving.

“We should be concerned that for the second year there has been a decline in the proportion of people donating money to good causes,” Low said. “It is a reminder to all of us in civil society that we should never take giving for granted.”

CAF is calling for the governments to make sure that civil society organisations are regulated in a fair and consistent way. It has also called for it to allow organisations to speak on important issues in public life without consequence.

CAF has also called on civil society organisations to ensure good governance continues and that they meaningfully engage local communities in decision making.

“This year it is heartening that millions of people helped others and volunteered their time. The global fall in numbers giving money is a concern, however, as the cumulative effect of the money people give can have an amazing effect,” Low said.

“Some countries do show some sharp declines in levels of giving, and we will have to look carefully to analyse the possible reasons and determine whether we are seeing short term volatility in the data or the start of a longer term trend.”

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