Singapore is seventh most generous country in the world

Singapore has been ranked seventh most generous country in the world, according to the World Giving Index 2018. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - For the first time, Singapore made it to the list of top 10 most generous countries in the world, according to the British charity, Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), which released its report on Tuesday (Oct 30).

It is ranked seventh in the foundation's World Giving Index 2018.

Over 140 countries in the world were ranked in three areas: giving of time, donating of money and helping a stranger.

Topping the list is Indonesia, followed by Australia in second place and New Zealand in third place. The United States, Ireland and Britain took fourth, fifth and sixth place respectively.

Indonesia was the runner-up in the 2017 Index, but climbed to the top in this year's ranking after the previous champion, Myanmar, fell to ninth place this year.

On why fewer people in Myanmar are volunteering and helping a stranger, the report stated: "After the Rohingya crisis reached its peak during 2017, it is hard not to conclude that the country's troubles have contributed to Myanmar's people being less willing or less able to give in these ways.

"Proving more resilient is the country's willingness to donate money, believed to be largely driven by the country's huge following of Theravada Buddhism, which requires donating to support those living a monastic lifestyle."

In Singapore, about 1,000 people were interviewed in person last year and asked if they had helped a stranger, donated money to a charity or volunteered in the past month.

Two in three (67 per cent) polled here had helped a stranger, while almost four in 10 had volunteered. Almost six in 10 had donated money.

Singapore's move to the top 10 comes after dismal showings in the past five years in the annual rankings. In 2013, it was ranked 64th, and last year, the Republic came in 30th.

A spokesman for the foundation said: "The improved score has been driven by increases in volunteering and helping a stranger, which may be a result of a number of schemes to increase volunteering over recent years in the country."

For example, in 2016, only 25 per cent of those polled in Singapore had volunteered, compared with 39 per cent of those interviewed last year - an increase which the spokesman described as "quite remarkable".

The rise in volunteerism here was also noted earlier, in the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre's (NVPC) Individual Giving Survey 2016, its director of knowledge and advocacy Jeffrey Tan said.

In the survey, the latest conducted by NVPC, respondents were asked if they had volunteered or donated in the past year. Some 35 per cent indicated they had volunteered in 2016, almost double the 18 per cent in 2014.

Of those polled, 76 per cent said they donated money in 2016, down from 83 per cent in 2014. However, the total sum given to charity was $2.2 billion in 2016, almost double the $1.2 billion in 2014.

Mr Tan said: "This shows that Singapore can lead the pack globally when it comes to caring and sharing."

Associate Professor Lam Swee Sum, director of the Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy, said there are several reasons for the rise in volunteerism here.

More groups, such as the NVPC and the National Youth Council, are encouraging people to volunteer.

There is also a greater awareness of unmet needs and more are volunteering their time and skills to meet those needs. Various online platforms have also sprung up to match volunteers to causes.

Chairman of the Charity Council Gerard Ee said of Singapore's ranking: "It is a reflection of a much stronger community spirit where more people are coming forward to offer their assistance."

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