The CAF World Giving Index 2018 finds that when it comes to donating money, volunteering time and helping a stranger among 146 countries, India ranks at 124 in 2018 as opposed to its position of 81 in 2017. However, if we look at the absolute numbers rather than giving as a percentage of the population, the report indicates that India ranks number 1 donating and volunteering and number 2 in helping a stranger. “There has been a dip in the number of Indians giving money from 265 million in the 2017 index to 191 million in 2018 Index; as far as volunteering goes 256 millions volunteered according to the 2017 Index while 138 million is the figure noted according to 2018 Index; and even when it comes to helping strangers, from 340 million reporting this in the 2017 Index, the number is at 290 million in 2018," says Meenakshi Batra, chief executive officer, CAF India.

The ninth edition of Giving Index includes data from 146 countries collected throughout 2017 and indicates that global giving in terms of donating money has increased marginally amongst those from developed nations (from 40% to 42%), but has declined in developing countries (from 25% to 24%). The report also indicates that people in the older age groups who have historically been inclined to donate are not on the forefront any more.

As far as the global list goes, Indonesia debuts as number one, one up from last year. even though Indonesia’s three individual giving scores remain largely unchanged. Myanmar which held the top slot for four years in a row till 2017, is now down to the ninth place. Two countries which have made a debut in the top 20 ranking list include Haiti and Singapore. The report attributes Singapore’s success to a number of schemes that have been introduced in the country to increase volunteering recently. This year, significantly more people across the globe reported helping a stranger and volunteering their time and fewer people reported donating money to a charity, the second year this particular measure has declined.

“Over the last few years, the trend in giving has been upward in India hence this drop in ranking is surprising. In absolute numbers, more Indians are giving, and volunteering time than anywhere else in the world but perhaps other nations are just improving faster than us on the three parameters of the report when it comes to percentage of people giving or helping in the entire country. Also, we have to remember that a large part of giving in India still remains unstructured like feeding people, giving alms or donating at religious institutions," says Batra, CEO of CAF India.

Batra also feels that “withdrawal of 35AC (100% exception on tax) from giving activities from FY17-18 onwards by the Government of India, could be another reason that has contributed to the drop in ranking." Batra believes the way ahead is to focus more energy on awareness campaigns, make the giving environment more enabling for donors and incentivise giving. “It is heartening to see Prime Minister Modi taking active interest in volunteering and just last week asking for more people to take such activities seriously. This will surely help like it did in Singapore."

Deval Sanghavi, co-founder, Dasra, a not-for-profit working with philanthropists, is surprised at the drop in ranking for India. “In the groups that Dasra works with including Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNI) and HNIs, giving has seen improvement in India. Even in the face of reducing foreign funds, India is seeing an unprecedented investment in sustainable development solutions that are community-designed and implemented; aimed at scalable solutions that engage government bodies from the start," he says.

More importantly, givers are increasingly eager to engage in philanthropy with their time and experience as well, approaching it as another venture rather than traditional charity. “Given, these trends, we think the future is promising, with more giving going towards, structured and long term philanthropy," he adds.

The CEO of Give India, Atul Satija, describes his non profit as India’s most trustworthy giving platform, says the past year has been a good one. “The overall participation in civic engagement has gone up as have the number of donors on our platform. We are also finding that young people in the country are keen to volunteer. In fact, Indian in their early 20s and those above 40 are willing to donate more for emotional causes like sponsoring a child etc, but those in their 30s, the millennials, are looking to solve bigger problems like climate change."

Satija believes that to improve giving across age groups in India, what is needed is more investment in technology that will push to make hyper local activities like volunteering easier and also building narratives around the work of non profits and donors around the year.

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