Global study shows how Covid-19 upended charitable giving – South Africa, however, has rallied

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An annual survey of global generosity has laid bare the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic on charitable giving. For the first time since the survey, which is run by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), began, five major western economies have fallen out of the list of the top 10 most generous countries. South Africa, however, has rallied – moving from 45 to 21 out of 114 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 this edition, data was gathered in 114 countries, representing over 90% of the world’s population. The rankings produced were not based on the amounts given or the number of volunteer hours worked.

The survey found that the world’s most generous country is Indonesia, which also topped the list in 2018. Indonesia is followed by Kenya and Nigeria in positions two and three, Ghana at six and Uganda at eight.

This year’s survey highlights the impact of lockdowns on charitable giving as the USA, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom 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,” says Gill Bates, CEO of CAF Southern Africa. “While major western countries have seen a sharp drop in their giving behaviours, African giving and generosity have remained constant or growing. We are particularly pleased that South Africa 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.”

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 somewhat, 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 first launched in 2009.
  • More than half (55%) of the half 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 are broadly unchanged at a global level.

In a special 10th anniversary report released in 2019, the United States of America was the world’s most generous country over the previous decade and seven of the 10 most generous nations were among the world’s wealthiest.

Neil Heslop, CAF Chief Executive, said: “This year’s World Giving Index makes for sombre reading as it lays 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.

“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 that 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 that the tremendous levels of generosity that 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.”
Click here to download the full report.

Notes to editors

For more information please contact:

Press office direct line (24 hours): 03000 123 286

Press office email: media@cafonline.org

For CAF Southern Africa’s media and communications team, please email lauren@foxstreetcomms.co.za or call 0027 83 226 8906.


The CAF World Giving Index is on data from Gallup’s World View World Poll, which is an ongoing research project. For this edition, data has been included for 114 countries, representing over 90% of the global adult population. The survey asks questions on many different aspects of life today including giving behaviour.

In March 2020, Gallup paused data collection worldwide as it assessed risk in the face of the emerging pandemic.  In May 2020, Gallup initiated contingency data collection plans, replacing face to face interviews (the usual data collection method in Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, former Soviet states, developing Asia, the Middle East and Africa) with telephone based interview.

This change is not considered to have had a material impact on the findings detailed in this report.

About CAF

CAF is a group of three charities based in Canada, the United States of America and the United Kingdom specialising in safe and effective cross-border giving. Together, we work with companies and philanthropists to support them to ensure that money reaches the causes at the heart of their giving plans. In the UK, CAF also operates CAF Bank, offering dedicated banking and support to more than 14,000 UK-based charities. 

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Account name: Charities Aid Foundation
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If you donate, please add your name or company name as a payment reference and email your contact details to Meena Parbhoo


Donate to CAFSA's Emergency Fund to assist NPOs during the COVID-19 crisis

Charities Aid Foundation Southern Africa (CAFSA) has launched an emergency fund to support local Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) during this challenging period.

With the economic and health challenges emerging from the COVID-19 crisis, thousands of NPOs are set to be impacted by funding shortages, which will result in a reduction or discontinuation of services and dedicated staff losing their jobs.

To keep these critical services going, CAFSA is mobilising support to make funding available to help NPOs who render essential services to the most marginalised individuals, groups and communities in our society.

We are calling on both individuals and corporates to donate. The relevant bank details for donations are listed below.

CAFSA will process all donations and ensure that due diligence, governance compliance and reporting are fully implemented. CAFSA will further ensure that all donations are designated to validated beneficiary organisations. Donors will also be issued with Section 18(a) certificates for income tax purposes.

Account name: Charities Aid Foundation
Bank: Nedbank
Account type: Nedbank Current Account
Branch name: Parktown
Account number: 1944183795
Universal branch code: 198765
Swift code: NEDSZAJJ

If you donate, please add your name or company name as a payment reference and email your contact details to Meena Parbhoo


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