S'pore ranks 28th in World Giving Index

Republic rises 6 spots as people are found to be more generous, but fewer are volunteering

One in two Singaporeans stepped forward to help a stranger last year, lifting the Republic to its highest position yet in a global index for charitable giving.

The World Giving Index 2016, released on Tuesday by Britain-based Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), found that half of the respondents here helped a stranger last year, up from 44 per cent the year before.

Overall, the Republic was ranked 28th out of the 140 countries polled, up from 34th last year. It is the country's best showing since the annual ranking started in 2010.

Myanmar topped the index for the third year running, followed by the United States, then Australia.

The CAF measures three areas - volunteering, donating to charity and helping a stranger. Respondents were asked if they had done any of the three in the month before they were surveyed.

Polling was conducted by market research firm Gallup, which interviewed more than 148,000 people via telephone or face to face.

While Singaporeans have become more generous overall, fewer are volunteering their time and efforts for a cause, said the CAF. Only about one in five Singaporeans did so last year, placing the Republic in 54th position in that category. Singapore was ranked 42nd the year before.

The results were similar to the Individual Giving Survey done in 2014 by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), which found that 17.8 per cent of Singaporeans volunteered. In the NVPC survey, the top reason for not volunteering was the lack of time.

For the World Giving Index, Singapore was ranked 19th for donating money to charity, with 58 per cent of those polled having done so last year, said the CAF.

Official data showed that charitable giving hit a 17-year peak last year: Singaporeans gave $1.4 billion in tax-deductible donations, up 24.6 per cent from 2014.

Dr William Wan, general secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement, said helping strangers has become a more "accepted and sometimes, even expected, social behaviour", in part due to the influence of the media.

He said: "When people share videos on social media of kind acts that people do, or when newspapers report on these cases, it creates an environment where doing so does not seem so unusual after all."

For instance, he noted that more people have been giving up their seats on the MRT to the elderly.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 27, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore ranks 28th in World Giving Index'. Print Edition | Subscribe