The World Giving Index

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Last month (September) the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) published the first World Giving Index. The report is available online from CAF, and examines how charitable the people of each country are. I’m going to use the next two or three blog posts (not quite decided how many I’ll need yet) to share my reflections on the report, its methodology and conclusions. First blog post (this one) is an introduction to the report.

World Giving Index

CAF’s World Giving Index measures how generous the people of each country are with their money and time. According to CAF, it is the largest report of its kind ever completed, surveying respondents from 153 countries around the world (there are between 192 and 203 states, depending on who you ask), so is pretty comprehensive.

Variables

As you can’t just ask ‘how charitable are you?,’ CAF decided to measure charitable giving by asking people in each country: how many people have donated money to an organisation; how many people have volunteered their time to help an organisation; and how many people have helped a stranger. All research must make similar operational decisions, and I think their choice of variables is pretty sensible for a number of reasons. First, measuring only how many people have donated money or time, not how much money or time they have given, will prevent wealthier nations skewing the results. Second, asking only if people have donated money, not how much they donated, is wise because it’s almost impossible to accurately determine how much people have donated (either time or money), as they invariably lie about it to make themselves seem more generous. Finally, using organisation – which includes political parties, community organisations, and places of worship – rather than just registered charity is again a sensible decision as giving time to organisations other than registered charities is still beneficial and charitable for others.

Research Question

Using these variables – money donated, time donated, and helping strangers – CAF are interested in finding out how ‘giving’ people are (the clue is in the name of the report, really). Furthermore, they wanted to find out if the wealth of a nation or the well-being of its population affected ‘giving,’ and to what extent. To measure wealth, the report has used GDP per capita, and to measure well-being the respondents were asked to ‘rank’ their satisfaction with their life. Both variables are pretty wooly, but are nevertheless a good attempt to try and quantify something that’s inherently difficult to quantify.

I think that’s enough for now. In the next blog post I’ll look more closely at the report’s methodology, but this should at least give you an flavour of what the report is interesting in looking at, and how the authors decided to measure this.

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