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Swedes perform poorly in charitable giving survey

The Local · 10 Sep 2010, 10:28

Published: 10 Sep 2010 10:28 GMT+02:00

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The ranking comes from the World Giving Index, the first survey to analyse charitable behaviour around the world on a large scale and compiled by the UK-based Charities Aid Foundation (CAF).

Australia and New Zealand topped the Index, while Madagascar came in last.

CAF used a Gallup survey to evaluate the charitable behaviour of people in 153 countries representing 95 percent of the world’s population.

The survey looked at the percentage of the population that donated to a charity, volunteered time to an organization, and helped a complete stranger or someone they did not know.

It also asked respondents whether they had given money to charity in the last month and to rank how happy they were with life on a scale of one to ten.

Overall, Sweden achieved a score of 37 percent in the ranking. According to the index, 52 percent of Swedes gave money, 12 percent gave time, and 47 percent helped a stranger. CAF also gave Sweden a well being score of 7.5 out of 10 overall.

By contrast, Sweden is the most generous country in the world in terms of official development assistance as a percentage of gross national income, giving 1.12 percent, according to an April OECD survey. It is also eighth overall in absolute terms, donating $4.55 billion in 2009.

But Sweden didn't rank as wel in the World Giving Index in comparison to its Nordic neighbours. Iceland, for example, came in 14th place, Denmark tied for the 18th spot, and Norway came in 25th place.

Other European countries on the list included Ireland, tied for 3rd with Canada; Switzerland, which shared 5th with the US; the Netherlands (7th); the UK (tied at 8th with Sri Lanka); and Austria in 10th place.

For all countries, CAF compared the strength of the relationship between giving with both a nation's GDP and the happiness of its population. CAF found that the link between happiness and giving is stronger than wealth.

"Donating money to charity is something that is traditionally seen as being driven by how wealthy a person is," director of research Richard Harrison said in a statement.

"However, it is clear that happiness plays an important role in influencing whether people give."

While only 4 percent of Lithuanians had donated money to charity when the study was conducted in March 2010, 83 percent of Maltese demonstrated their generosity financially.

Story continues below…

Separately, volunteerism ranged from only 2 percent in Cambodia to 61 percent in Turkmenistan.

Numbers also varied widely within each country. Although 8 percent of Liberians gave to charity every month, 76 percent of them helped a stranger, more than any country in the world.

Overall, 20 percent of respondents had volunteered time, 30 percent had given money and 45 percent had helped a stranger.

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Your comments about this article

11:04 September 10, 2010 by ladyontop
Not surprised that Sweden didn't score hight on this one. I was on my way to somewhere day before and saw an old man fell in a bit of distance, that was an mostly immigrant neighbourhood, one women with a head scarf stopped her baby pram and started to help the old man up. ther other passerby was an old lady could barely walk on her own. I joint her to pull him up on his feet but he was a bit too heavy, just then a guy passed by and we asked him to help, to our shock he refused ! I can't really say where he was originally from (I'd only say of nordic looking) but it was us 3 women (none were original swedish) got him up finally and move him to a nearby bench.

When I told this incident to my swedish friend he wasn't surprised. I was told swede dont intend to help strangers especially in 'big cities' . But they tend to be more helpful in the countryside.
11:37 September 10, 2010 by Shazzer
I'm not surprised the number is so low for giving time. There is virtually no culture of volunteerism here, plus in my experience at least, work that does not produce a paycheck is not valued the same way it is in other countries.
11:59 September 10, 2010 by Iraniboy
I think Swedes believe in organised charity that is governed by the government or resposible orgnanisitions rather that sudden and random aids.
12:23 September 10, 2010 by flintis
Swedes don't give to Charity!! you gotta be kidding, the Swedish Gov gives more aid per capita than any other western country, so why should we give to specific charities whose profit margins exceed that of any multinational.
12:24 September 10, 2010 by Mzungu
Perhaps this is why?

Swedish Red Cross official charged with fraud

Prosecutors charged the former director of communications of the Swedish Red Cross with aggravated fraud on Friday along with two alleged accomplices, the organisation and judicial authorities said.

In a statement, the Red Cross said the fraud amounts to 7.7 million kronor (about 750,000 euros, 1.1 million dollars).

*just a thought*
12:44 September 10, 2010 by StockholmSam
Sweden's welfare system funded by high taxes creates a built-in charity system. Swedes don't give voluntarily because they are already forced to donate to the less-fortunate. This creates the attitude that it is someone else's responsibility...through taxation and welfare programs, the government has assumed responsibility for supporting those in need.
12:51 September 10, 2010 by americanska
Not surprising - hard give money away when the goverment takes it all away.

The USA ranked 5th - surprised it not number 1. Normally the USA gives far more per capita than anyone else. Damn those greedy Americans!
13:00 September 10, 2010 by Mib
I will never give money directly to anyone on the street as it feeds any addictions they tend to have and simply continues the vicious cycle.

I used togive via Direct Debit to the likes of the RSPCA, NSCPCA etc, but it seems that it is another door to corruption, waste of money etc.

So, for me ... the best option is to give to small charitable organisations that you can see do a good/reat job ie. feeding homeless, creating shelter homes, giving vunerable people a place to recover and to restart their life via time and counselling. You tend to see how selfless the organisers/volunteers are and so that is where the money should go. The likes of Oxfam etc have grown so big that the original idea of what they do has reduced as career orientated people try to better their positions and not to sacrifice their focus from themselves to the people they are supposed to serve.

I like the show "The Secret Millionaire" where they volunteer, but don't reveal their true identity and then afterwards decide who should get some money. It's amazing how selfless the volunteers are
13:06 September 10, 2010 by cogito
@flintis: SIDA, the Swedish gov't aid agency, exists mainly to provide employment for Swedes who like to play golf in nations with warm climates.

SIDA has been shown to be at best incompetent and at worst knowingly involved in corruption and fraud. Just read the links in the article. It would often have been better to practice their "charity" at home.

@americanska: The 5th place ranking may be in part because they do not count organisations like the Peace Corps as charity.
13:14 September 10, 2010 by Elisedal
Well what a surprise. I often wondered when this was going to be discussed in Sweden. I noticed it when I moved here. Trying to get swedes to donate to a charity is unbelievable. I have often done various things like mountain climbing, runnning half marathon etc. for charities but ask a swede to sponser you is like asking them to buy a round of drinks.Another example is of it is asking to donate to buy a leaving present for a colleague. Yes I understand 20sek is ok if the person was there 6 months but for a person who is with the company for 20 years I think 20sek is pretty poor. I was blocked when I proposed to increase it to 50sek. Last time someone left here they got a signed photo of themselves at worked signed by us and a board game.That was after 22 years working there. I would be pissed off if I got that after so many years service. Ok rant over!!!
13:36 September 10, 2010 by Rishonim
In principle Swedes are extremely cheap. Try going out with a group of Swedes to a restaurant and when time come to pay the bill they all take out their mobile calculator and will add up exactly what they have consumed. Boyfriend and girlfriend go dutch all the time. When they go to a party they all bring their backpack with booze and keep it right next to them.
14:29 September 10, 2010 by flintis
@cogito: to where do I send my application, need to improve my game ;-))

These "charity's" give far too little of the donations to the intended parties. It was proven with both the red x & oxfam in the uk, a maximum of 20% of every donation reached the intended, that a massive 80% of all donations go to "running" these "charity's"
15:03 September 10, 2010 by bbryan29
As an AMERICAN i just dont beleave this, donate money when everyou can,the everyday american donates billions of dallors every year, mind you were a very large country, but size dosnt matter, give what you can when you can.ive come to love your country and i just know your people can do better. what what you can to help others, i know your not a welfare state like my country is but dod what you can.


16:16 September 10, 2010 by Toffee_apple
I'm not surprised either Sweden did so poorly for this. From experience Swedes are generally stingy and rarely help others. Just as in others' posts Swedes will only pay what's necessary and not a krona more, such as going to dinner with friends. On the other hand, there is something that people seem to forget...

All people in Sweden, Swedish or not, who work and pay taxes are already giving something to those in need. Our high taxes pay for welfare within Sweden and some goes to help developing nations with medical supplies and rebuilding infrastructure. What annoys me is that there are plenty of people (especially from a particular area) who take advantage of Sweden's welfare, come here and don't work because what they get is still way better than the money they earn through work in their home countries. Many Swedes are annoyed at this and that may be why they don't help immigrants much.
19:13 September 10, 2010 by RobinHood
Swedish taxayers contribute vast amounts of money to charity by way of the taxes they pay to their government. This money is then generously distributed by the Swedish government as it thinks fit.

I don't blame my fellow tax payers for being unwilling to donate any more than we do already. We already pay the second highest taxes in the world, and our government is one of the largest per capita doners in the world. Enough is enough, and its a bit annoying to read that we "perform poorly". Those that think we do, clearly need to learn a bit more about what our government actually does with our tax money.
20:57 September 10, 2010 by Kaethar
Rubbish. The Swedish government donates the most in the world. The Swedish government also takes care of the people in Sweden. Something all Swedes are very well aware of, and still over 50% of the population donates extra money. That's pretty amazing, if you ask me.

Someone mentioned the US. Interesting, because Americans do a lot of in-house charity - that is, giving money to struggling Americans. Something all Swedes provide through taxes. :)
21:12 September 10, 2010 by Rebel
The Swedish government takes care of the people? Give me a freakin break! They rob you of tax money and re-distriute it (and then Swedes say that the government gives them something). And do you really feel safe on the streets? I trust the average Swedish cop, but as for the pseudo-intellectual left-wing mentality that grips every party in the Riksdag, these people have no real concern for the safely of the masses or justice. Their concern is eitehr ideological, or to maintain the social order -- it has little to do with justice.
03:13 September 11, 2010 by jackx123
This is complete BS. With 50,000-70,000 immigrants each year would make Sweden one of the biggest charities in the world per capita. No need to hand out more money.
08:06 September 11, 2010 by sigfus45
There are any number of reasons, personal, religious and social to help your fellow man. I, personaly, do not include those that support themslves and other corrupt individuals or organizations. I an willing to hlep, just not interested in making rich people richer, or supporting violent organizations. Take care with your well meaning donations.
12:17 September 11, 2010 by americanska
Lots of people making excuses for the swedes not giving money to charity. do they think the government has low administrative costs?? give me a break.

even if the swedish government does a lot of charitable activity - so do other governments. AND their citizens give away loads of money (the USA)

Just think if they would included government charities in this - do you think something like the US Military bases in South Korea? Or anything else the US government does that other countries free ride on.
15:25 September 11, 2010 by k9dr
Why would citizens give to charities? It seems most Swedes depend on the charity of their own government to give for them to others and to them. Don't have to make choices when the state does it all for you. My experience is that Swedes expect someone else to take care of them.
15:25 September 11, 2010 by samwise
overall, swedes trust the government more than they trust themselves, when it comes to managing money. The problem is, taxation is implemented with government force, it is not voluntary, but when people talk about charitable giving ,they mean voluntary giving.

do we consider the rich is more loving and caring because they pay much more into the taxes, some of which end up flowing into various charitable causes? probably not. therefore, it's not a strong argument to say paying more taxes demonstrates a more charitable heart.
16:44 September 11, 2010 by cogito
The government confiscating your money through taxes and then using it to finance those with the right connections to enjoy cushy jobs in a better climate is not charity. It's a racket.
19:18 September 11, 2010 by bheatrix
We pay taxes, alot of that goes to charity as well. I would hope we can stop giving so much away and invest in our country and our taxpayers needs.
16:48 September 12, 2010 by ladyontop
Forget about 'we pay tax so we dont need to give to charity', what about just a simple good deed? help a stranger in street, stand up for something unjustified happening in front of you? or if that takes too much guts, just give time for a bit of volunteer work?
06:53 September 13, 2010 by 72Flutterby
There are 2 sides to this. I live in New Zealand and I am married to a Swede. We ranked highest with the Australians. Here in NZ, Christchurch just had a 7.1 earthquake in the South Island. We live in Auckland in the North Island but it could have been any one of us that it happened to. My husband lost his job in the recession 3 months ago and is not working. We have 3 teenage sons and a little girl at home but I still went online and donated money.It does not matter how little money you have...there is always somebody worse off! Life in New Zealand is easier than Sweden. We have more rights, better access to cheaper medical services and although our wages are lower, we pay a lot less in tax. We don't have a lot of people living in apartments, most people own their own homes. Life in Sweden can be a struggle. Rents are high, you pay double tax for almost everything and there are no rewards/incentive for doing well financially. People struggle in the climate and everyday tasks are so much harder during the winter months ( actually for around 8 months of the year). Swedes feel as though they pay enough as it is. They should however look at what they PERSONALLY can contribute rather than what the Government gives away, even though it's taxpayers money. Sweden likes to look good to the rest of the world so they are normally good with Humanitarian Aid and Assylum seekers etc. They should look after their own first!!
09:07 September 13, 2010 by karex

You hit the nail on the head. Americans would think twice before donating to others if they paid 50% (or more) income tax. First you have to look out for your own kids and make sure they have food on the table. If you give away the money for your kids' food you will end up another charity case yourself.

There are different ways to donate: one is by sharing through being more favorable towards immigration - something the US and many other countries do not do. It's a matter of perspective.
09:17 September 13, 2010 by americanska
@ karex....ummm - you just generalized 320 million people as being "not favorable towards immigration"

easily one of the dumbest and most uniformed comments i have ever read.
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