How Good Are South Africans at Giving?



For the past 8 years Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) has published a World Giving Index to provide insight into the scope and nature of giving in 138 countries around the world.

This year SA improved to 24th overall and 7th in Africa

But, the devil is in the detail (below)

In order to ensure that giving is understood in its various forms, the report looks at three aspects of giving behaviour. The questions that lie at the heart of the report are:


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?

Sir John Low, Chief Executive of Charities Aid Foundation reports:

“For eight years, the CAF World Giving Index has given unique insight into generosity around the world and chronicling trends in giving across continents and cultures worldwide.

Its aim is simple: to provoke debate and encourage people, policymakers and civil society to think about what drives giving, and put in place policies to grow the culture of giving worldwide.

The questions that make up the Index focus on the universal – do we give money or time or do we help strangers in need. It confounds traditional views of the link between wealth and generosity, confirming what we all surely know: that giving is about spirit and inner motivation, not about financial means.

This year, all developed countries in the top 20 most generous show a fall. But across the continent of Africa, giving is on the rise. It would be wrong to read too much into one year’s findings. But what is clear is that across fast developing countries the potential for giving is on the rise. People across the world are becoming employed, wealth is starting to spread, and millions of people are enjoying rising living standards and disposable income.

What would happen if those people felt confident to give to civil society? It could yield vast resources to help solve the world’s most intractable social problems, help people in need, build truly sustainable development and transform lives around the world.

The world has a historic opportunity to cultivate civil society, and through it, transform the lives of millions. And this international study provides a chance to talk about how we can make that happen.

That is what the CAF World Giving Index is about.”

In 2017 South Africa ranks 24th out of the 138 countries included in the survey.

 Below are how some scores of countries we may benchmark ourselves against.

Australia and New Zealand 6

Botswana  93

Mauritius   27

United Kingdom   11

United States of America 5

South Africa 24

Amongst the 13 most improved countries this year are two countries born of the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia), eight African countries (Ghana, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Liberia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Tunisia), two Latin American countries (Ecuador and Honduras) and the Central Asian country of Tajikistan.

Focussing on the three key measures it is an obvious point that SA scores poorly on “giving money”, but is in the to 10% when it comes to “helping a stranger” and in the to 13% when it comes to “volunteering time”.

Helping a stranger
South Africa 9

Donating money
South Africa 80

Volunteering time
South Africa 18