More people globally giving to charity, with Myanmar the most generous country: Study

A Buddhist monk receiving morning alms in Mandalay, Myanmar, on Sept 20, 2015.
A Buddhist monk receiving morning alms in Mandalay, Myanmar, on Sept 20, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Myanmar is the most generous country in the world, with nine out of 10 adults donating money to charity and half volunteering their time, while Burundi is the least, followed by China, Yemen and Lithuania, researchers said on Tuesday (Nov 10).

The study by the London-based Charitable Aid Foundation (CAF) found that more people around the world are giving to charity, with around 1.4 billion people donating money in 2014, or 31.5 per cent of adults, up from 28.3 per cent in 2013.

"It is heartening to see that even during these times of economic uncertainty across the world, people are increasingly likely to donate money to causes that help others," said CAF chief executive John Low in a statement.

The United States, New Zealand, Canada and Australia followed Myanmar for overall generosity, according to CAF's World Giving Index, which measures the charitable behaviour of nations by polling people on how often they donate to charity, how often they volunteer and how often they help strangers.

In Myanmar, where the ruling party conceded defeat to the opposition led by democracy figurehead Aung San Suu Kyi after Sunday's general election, 92 per cent of respondents said they gave money to charity in the past month.

High levels of giving in Myanmar and neighbouring Thailand, where 87 per cent gave cash recently, are driven by high levels of Theradava Buddhism and the tradition of Sangha Dana or"charity to the community of monks", said the study.

Myanmar also came top for volunteering, with half the population doing so, followed by Sri Lanka, Liberia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.

Globally, the proportion of people who said they volunteered time fell slightly, to 21 per cent from 21.3 per cent.

Tuesday's report highlighted the contrast between Myanmar's achievement and "recent reports about the suffering and contested rights of the Rohingya people", the persecuted Muslim minority group.

Almost half of the world's adult population said they helped a stranger in 2014 according to the poll, a slight increase on the previous year, with Iraq topping the list followed by Liberia, the United States, Namibia and Jamaica.

The proportion of people donating money in conflict-hit Ukraine quadrupled in 2014 compared to the previous year, while notable increases were also seen in the Balkan countries, hit by serious flooding in May 2014.

"One factor which holds true is that, in almost any place in the world, people will rally around in a crisis," said Mr Low.

The survey data was provided by polling firm Gallup, which interviewed over 150,000 people in 2014 on charitable giving and other topics.