Christmas is known as a time for giving; a time to consider those less fortunate than ourselves. When it comes to charity, the people of Gibraltar are known for their generosity and willingness to volunteer and hardly a week goes by, throughout the year, without a major charity fundraising or volunteering event taking place around the Rock.
According to the site here2help.gi run by the Gibraltar Citizen Advice Bureau, there are 32 registered Charities in Gibraltar. In Gibraltar, a charity is registered with the Charity Commissioner at the Supreme Court. One of the advantages of registering as a charitable organisation is being exempt from paying certain taxes once certified. It is also possible to set up a charity to create awareness for a particular cause as well as to use it as a vehicle to fund an activity. Trusts and bodies partly established for charitable purposes are likewise from time to time considered as, or treated as, charities. There is also tax relief for donations to charities in Gibraltar and successive governments, both in Gibraltar and across Europe have devised various financial incentives to make giving to charity more compelling, such as Gift Aid and inheritance tax relief.
Indeed, the business of giving, or philanthropy, is a huge industry worldwide, comprising of not only the donors or charities, but also family offices, asset managers, investment bankers, international tax advisors and Trust companies. Philanthropy relies on economic success, and can differ from charity in the sense that it is strategic giving. Global philanthropy is experiencing growth but is not keeping apace with the acute need for it.
For fifteen years now, The Sunday Times Giving List ranks the top 200 donors in the UK. The 2016 Giving List is topped for the third successive year by Lord Sainsbury and family. They generated £220.5m for charity; 40% of the family’s residual wealth. There are 32 billionaires among this year’s top 200 givers. Among them Alisher Usmanov, the second largest shareholder in Arsenal football club, has donated more than £100m in the past year. Indeed, you’re never too old to give: Sir Mike Uren, now aged 92, has stepped up his giving in the past few years. Imperial College London has gained most from his generosity with a £40m commitment. Among the top 25 donors, the most popular time of life at which to give was between 69- and 79-years-old with 52% of the top 25 falling into this age bracket. Amongst donating celebrities, One Direction led the way with more than £842,000 gifted to charity in the past year. This included £480,000 to the Believe in Magic charity for seriously and terminally ill children. Moreover, David Beckham raised over £5 million in the first year of his Beckham Unicef Fund.
However, you don’t have to be as rich as those on the Rich List to make a difference. For over seven years, the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) has been publishing its World Giving Index- recognised as the world’s leading study of generosity. Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) is a leading international charity registered in the United Kingdom, with a presence in nine countries covering six continents. Its mission is to motivate society to give ever more effectively and help transform lives and communities around the world. The 2016 World Giving Index, published in October, includes data from 140 countries across the globe that was collected throughout 2015 by the leading survey firm -the Gallup Group. The report looks at three aspects of giving behaviour. The three questions at the heart of the report are:
Have you done any of the following in the past month?
- Helped a stranger, or someone you didn’t know who needed help?
- Donated money to a charity?
- Volunteered your time to an organisation?
The Index then ranks countries according to the percentage of the adult population who have demonstrated any of the above three giving behaviours.
Looking at the “Donating Money” dimension of the Index, the first chart presents the Top 20 Most Generous countries, with the score depicting the percentage of the population who have donated money to charity in a given month. Unfortunately, Gibraltar is not included in the survey, but if it was, we have no doubt it would have featured amongst the very top countries.
Myanmar in South-East Asia, has certain characteristics which have helped it achieve its top ranking. Anywhere from 80% to 90% of people in Myanmar are practicing Buddhists with as much as 99% of those following the Theravada branch of the religion. In Theravada Buddhism, followers donate to support those living a monastic lifestyle – a practice known as Sangha Dana. Giving in this way carries significant religious meaning and small, frequent acts of giving are the norm.
At the other end of the ranking are the bottom 10 countries in terms of the percentage of the population who have donated money to charity, which include:
Globally, the age group which is mostly involved in donating money to charity is those of the Over 50, as can be seen on the graph below.
From a gender perspective, 46% of women in developed economies said that they recently participated in donating money, compared with only 40% of men.
The involvement of the public in donating and raising funds for various causes is important in filling gaps where the government or local authorities are not currently providing. It demonstrates our care and responsibility to others as part of the wider global humanity.
Some of the recommendations made by the CAF, are that Governments around the world should:
- make sure not-for-profit organisations are regulated in a fair, consistent and open way
- make it easy for people to give and offer incentives for giving where possible
- promote civil society as an independent voice in public life and respect the right of not-for-profit organisations to campaign
- ensure not-for-profit organisations are transparent and well governed and inform the public about their work
- encourage charitable giving as nations develop their economies, taking advantage of the world’s growing middle classes.
Nevertheless, we all have a moral responsibility to help the needy and less fortunate in society… After all, there are no guarantees in life, and there is always the risk that we would find ourselves one day at the receiving end.