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Giving around the world
September 9, 2010 10:16 PM   Subscribe

The World Giving Index (scribd) (.pdf) by the Charity Aid Foundation1 was just released. It lumps three different types of charitable behaviour – giving money, giving time and helping a stranger - and produces the “World Giving Index”. Australia and New Zealand came out on top. The study also found that being happy is more of an influence on giving money to charity than being wealthy.

1: The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) is a charity set up to help other charities by working with donors, companies and charities to encourage and facilitate a culture of giving. They do this by offering products and services that make giving easier, tax efficient and help charities to make the most of donations through their banking and fundraising support services.
posted by wilful (20 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
In some countries, e.g. in western Europe, charitable work is done mainly by the state and financed through taxes, whereas e.g. in the US, many charities depend much more on individual donations. In other words, Europeans have a much larger portion of their income automatically diverted to charities, thus eliminating to a large extent the psychological act of "giving". (Paying taxes doesn't exactly feel like giving money to a charity).
posted by sour cream at 10:42 PM on September 9, 2010


Oh, I give, baby. I give until it hurts.
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:46 PM on September 9, 2010


sour cream, understood, however the report had financial giving as only one of three factors. Sri Lanka made it into the top ten.
posted by wilful at 10:48 PM on September 9, 2010


Sri Lanka made it into the top ten.

I've never been to Sri Lanka, but if it is anything like India then there will be many, many more opportunities to help a stranger at almost every street corner than in more developed countries.
posted by sour cream at 10:52 PM on September 9, 2010


Uh... duh.
posted by porpoise at 11:08 PM on September 9, 2010


That was uncharitable.
posted by pompomtom at 11:43 PM on September 9, 2010


"It should be noted that giving money or time to an organisation could include political parties/organisations as well as registered charities, community organisations, and places of worship."

And yet, in India only 14% reported giving money and 12% reported volunteering time? Given my personal experiences with people (of all income groups) giving their time and money to "places of worship" in India, I find this hard to believe.

May be they didn't understand the question.
posted by vidur at 11:50 PM on September 9, 2010


nothing new here. It's down to satisfaction above all else. People would rather give toward a landmark than a roadsign.
posted by parmanparman at 1:12 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


In Pakistan, giving is on a personal level -- people send children to school, give alms, etc. This is largely due to a mistrust of organisations and the individuals within "registered charities, community organisations and places of worship". Not to mention that I don't think it accounts for zakat, which is compulsory for Muslims. In Pakistan, at least, it's deducted automatically from one's bank account.

A strange survey.

*checks again to see who conducted it*

Oh. A charity to promote charities. Who have an interest in being the ones people give to.
posted by tavegyl at 1:12 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]



In some countries, e.g. in western Europe, charitable work is done mainly by the state and financed through taxes, whereas e.g. in the US, many charities depend much more on individual donations. In other words, Europeans have a much larger portion of their income automatically diverted to charities


Sour cream, I would love to see some statistics on that. That seems a very contentious statement, based as it is on a) one's definition of a "charity",and b) a pretty in-depth knowledge of wealth and resource distribution in a lot of different countries.

I'm not disputing that in the US welfare basically ain't worth shit compared to other developed countries, but you would need to have a wealth of information demonstrating income streams from a wide variety of charities to make a persuasive argument of this nature.

For example, in Australia whilst many NGOs do indeed get grants from federal and state governments for work, it would be difficult indeed to prove that:

1. A majority get their revenue and resources from the public purse
2. The ratio of private money and resources to public money and resources. The latter may hit more charities, but the former could very well exceed in volume, but not distribution. Multiply that by about 15 countries, and you've got an argument.

Furthering that second point - I know it's a favourite libertarian argument that private charity will fill the breach of public support in a free market state, however I think confusing private charity and public policy that intersects with charity is really, really problematic and something to be avoided at all costs. Charity is discretionary, often emotive, and subject to a range of pressures - economic, social, resourcing - that public policy is not to anywhere near the same degree.

Public policy is about meeting a [perceived] societal need. It is put together by, and in consultation with a range of experts both inside and outside the relevant sectors. It can be long term, it can be targetted, contexualised by a hierarchy of priority, assessed, and improved, audited and investigated.

Charity is not necessarily any of those things. People give money based on an ad, a friend's advice, their own experience with a cause etc etc. None of these reasons invalidate the act of giving - nor the reasoned and policy-driven approach of _some_ charities - but it should not be confused with a policy-based allocation of resource.

So, yeah, charity is not public policy, conflating the two is not great, and I just don't think a simplistic statement like that captures the very complex matrix of charity and govt support for charity.
posted by smoke at 1:15 AM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Charity is discretionary, often emotive, and subject to a range of pressures - economic, social, resourcing - that public policy is not to anywhere near the same degree.

I see no reason to concede this. Certain kinds of public policy, most notably the ones relevant to your argument, are subject to the same emotional support by those advocating the policy, and the same range of pressures. Public policy is also discretionary, in the sense that we vote for leaders who represent our views on public policy. In some countries, the same impulses which drive charity drive public policy. In my opinion, the US is strange in that the two don't come together (for obvious historical reasons, including the strong separation of church and state and the economic libertarianism of many of its citizens). tavegyl's comment, for instance, mentions that in Pakistan, the zakat is mandatory (and I suspect that is true in other countries as well).

This is not to argue that the US model is wrong or right; but your separation of charity and public policy is one that need not be accepted.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 3:23 AM on September 10, 2010


smoke: Sour cream, I would love to see some statistics on that. That seems a very contentious statement, based as it is on a) one's definition of a "charity",and b) a pretty in-depth knowledge of wealth and resource distribution in a lot of different countries.

Huh, I don't have any statistics, but I thought the general idea is pretty much settled. In fact, I believe that this is the core difference between the US and Europe: In most countries in Europe (thinking along the lines of Scandinavia, Netherlands, France, Germany etc.), no matter how much you screw up your life, you can still count on the state to pay for basic medical expenses, food, shelter etc. You pay for that security through higher taxes.

By contrast, in the US, there is the general consensus that state intervention is generally bad, and everyone is responsible for himself, so if you fuck up enough, then after a while you're on you're own, buddy - or at the mercy of charities. But taxes are lower.

This is not to say that living in the US is cheaper. To pick some random examples here: Child care in the US is generally more expensive than in many countries in Europe, because in Europe it is often state-funded. There are more toll roads in the US than there are in, say, Germany, so in Germany you can drive on the highway all you want, it's all been paid by taxes, whereas in the US, it's often pay as yo go. Research and universities in general in the old countries are often financed by the state (i.e. by taxes), in the US they are often dependent on endowments or the like. (There are exceptions to all these examples, but you get the general drift.)

I'm not saying one is better than the other, but if you take charity to mean "giving money to the needy" (whatever you're definition of needy), then more of that is done by the state in Europe than in the US.

Or take the recent initiative by Bill Gates, Warren Buffett etc. to give at least 50% of their wealth to charities. As laudable as that initiative is, would they be living in Europe, then a lot of that money would already have been taxed away anyway.
posted by sour cream at 4:45 AM on September 10, 2010


In most countries in Europe (thinking along the lines of Scandinavia, Netherlands, France, Germany etc.), no matter how much you screw up your life, you can still count on the state to pay for basic medical expenses, food, shelter etc.

My point is: that is not charity. it is the state. It is not funded on a private, discretionary, essentially arbitrary basis; it is >90% not administered by private organisations (charities) but rather government departments. It is not dependent upon the goodwill of the public, nor does it need to advertise, gain sponsorship, etc.

[In the west] It is secular, relatively middle-of-the-road, ideologically-speaking, and largely utilitarian in focus.

It is not charity. And if you define charity - as you do - as "giving money to the needy" - it is not charity because people are not giving their money to the needy; it is being taxed. The way those taxes are distributed, multiplied, and then spent is done in a completely different fashion, with different goals in mind, to a wide range of government departments and stakeholders, the needy being only one of many. The money is also being returned to those paying tax in the form of subsidies, infrastructure, grants, defence etc etc etc.

Comparing it to the philanthropic work of Bill Gates for example is not at all appropriate. I'm kind of surprised I'm having to explain this in so much detail. Tax is not charity, and comparing as such leads to some fairly wild conclusions and assumptions about the function and structure of both.
posted by smoke at 5:26 AM on September 10, 2010


> I'm not saying one is better than the other, but if you take charity to mean "giving money to
> the needy" (whatever you're definition of needy), then more of that is done by the state in
> Europe than in the US.

It's one definition, but I think you need to add the voluntary component. Large chunks of my taxes help pay for the NHS but it's hardly a charitable act - if I don't do that I go to jail. It's not even an act on my part at all, my employer deducts a portion of my salary and it goes straight to the Inland Revenue via the PAYE system. My only involvement is making sure the HR department used the right tax code and I'm not paying too much.
posted by vbfg at 6:41 AM on September 10, 2010


FWIW Metafilter has a Kiva team.
posted by edgeways at 7:06 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


In the UK we have a pretty healthy third sector and a very strange relationship with third sector and social policy/programmes. It wouldn't be right to say taxes don't fund charities, but it wouldn't be entirely right to say they do either.

% of population who have helped a stranger is just weirdly low and I don't believe it. Maybe people just don't count it, or do it and don't remember.
posted by shinybaum at 7:22 AM on September 10, 2010


smoke: My point is: that is not charity. it is the state.

OK, I see what you mean now.

But this doesn't change my point: In Europe, a larger amount of private income is automatically rerouted to provide medical care, food and shelter for a significant portion of citizens, whereas in the US that portion of citizens depends on charities for medical care, food and shelter, and the same is true for, say, cancer research and other philantropic causes. Consequently, the percentage of income given to charity as well as the percentage of citizens giving to charity is lower in Europe than in the US.
posted by sour cream at 7:33 AM on September 10, 2010


I wonder if Australia managed to top the list partly by virtue of the fact that we suffered the most extreme bushfires the country has ever seen early last year, and that as a result the charitable appeals raised record funding in record time?

I wonder how we'd have fared if last summer was all beer 'n' skittles?

(That said, I had four different cars pull up and ask if I needed help when I got a flat tyre out of town... :)
posted by autocol at 8:55 AM on September 10, 2010


Consequently, the percentage of income given to charity as well as the percentage of citizens giving to charity is lower in Europe than in the US.

That premise is not borne out at all by the data in the chart. The Netherlands give more money than the US. Canada, Australia, and Switzerland all have national health care, and are ranked as high or higher in the index than the US. The UK people have given more money than the US, depite not giving as much time and having a lower total.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:57 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


sour cream, it does change your point; it completely invalidates your point because tax is not charity, even if it's spent on exactly the same thing. It is not given by anyone. It is distributed in an entirely different way, it is involuntary not voluntary.

You need to provide some evidence or facts that charitable donations are lower in Europe/Canada/Australia than US. And you need to do it without looking at tax burden - if you can - which is completely different, even though its goals may intersect with some charity missions.
posted by smoke at 5:42 PM on September 10, 2010


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