THE BLOG
08/12/2013 16:48 GMT | Updated 07/02/2014 05:59 GMT

How Can We Spread UK Generosity?

I have never before been so struck by the generosity of the UK public as I have over the last few weeks. The response to the Philippines appeal has been astonishing, donations to DEC now exceeding £69m, nearly £1.5m of which has been raised through the Charities Aid Foundation.

You would think Children in Need, which aired just a week after the appeal launched, would have suffered as a result of this extraordinary response to the typhoon - but this too had another record year, raising an incredible £31m - £5m more than last year.

It will be of little surprise, then, that our new research revealed that a higher proportion of the UK give money to charity than in any other country in the developed world.

The World Giving Index ranks 135 countries on their generosity and allows us to compare the giving environments of nations across the world. We measure this using three different factors: how many people give money to charity, how many people volunteer and how many people help a stranger.

The UK comes second in the world for giving money, with only Burma scoring more highly. We are also sixth overall in the index, America coming in first followed by Canada, Burma, New Zealand and Ireland. So what makes the UK so willing to give to charities and so quick to respond to appeals such as Typhoon Haiyan and Children in Need?

What has really struck me recently is the incredibly innovative way charity appeals seem to have swept across all forms of media. I have been asked to donate to the DEC via text, at the top of my Facebook page, at the till of a coffee shop in a service station, at the supermarket, on the street and at a never-ending number of other locations. The DEC appeal has been everywhere - and mainly thanks to the support of high profile companies using their influence and resources to get the vital message out there and reach every possible audience.

Technology is being increasingly harnessed by charities to successfully engage more effectively with givers. An amazing £6m has been donated via mobile phones to the current DEC appeal, and a huge amount of traffic has also come via social media - the first time this route of fundraising has led to any significant numbers of donations.

Where the World Giving Index reveals that the UK doesn't fare as well, however, is in our volunteering. Despite the London Olympics recently showcasing the incredible power of volunteers and the willingness of Britons to give up their time to help good causes, we still lag on this measure - just 29% of us reported volunteering in a typical month compared to 45% of Americans.

The biggest advantage of a survey of this kind is we can examine different cultures of giving around the world and share what's working where. The results are constantly surprising, proving generosity is rarely influenced by the wealth of a country alone. As you may expect due to recent economic events, Greece is right at the bottom of the table. But Ireland, who have been through a very similar upheaval, come in at fifth overall in the Index, just above the UK. Indeed, if you just look at the top twenty countries in this year's ranking, only five are in the G20. So there's much to learn about the way generosity operates across the world, and which cultures have altruism imbedded deeply within them, regardless of economic circumstances.

The emerging economies are also surging ahead when it comes to giving. India has seen an additional 81million people give money to charity and an extra 71million give their time since last year. In China 373million people now help a stranger in a typical month.

So, the world is changing - and changing fast. The Charities Aid Foundation is currently undertaking work through our 'Future World Giving' programme, to explore what governments and others can do to prepare the ground for growth in philanthropy and ensure that civil society is effectively supported around the world.

We estimate that, due to the expansion of the global middle classes, giving could rise to £146bn by 2030, if people in rapidly developing economies were to give in line with the UK. That is, of course, a big if, but the numbers show what could be possible in the years to come. This is a great opportunity for us to celebrate our generosity and play an important role in encouraging emerging economies to develop a lasting culture of philanthropy. We have the potential, along with other leaders in the index, to help shape global giving behaviour in the years to come.