Indonesia was confirmed as the most generous country in the world – again, according to the World Giving Index 2021. The World Giving Index (WGI) report was released on Monday (6/14) by Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) and placed Indonesia in first place with a score of 69%, up from 59% in the last annual index published in 2018. At that time, Indonesia also ranked first in the WGI.
The World Giving Index (WGI) is an annual report published by the Charities Aid Foundation, using data collected by Gallup, and ranking more than 140 countries around the world based on how generous they are. In the WGI 2021 report, Indonesia ranks in the top 2 out of 3 categories or indicators, which are helping a stranger, donating money and volunteering time. The results of CAF's research show that more than 8 (eight) out of 10 Indonesians donated money this year, while the level of volunteerism in Indonesia is three times higher than the world average.
Director of Filantropi Indonesia, Hamid Abidin, welcomed the achievements made by the Indonesian philanthropic sector. According to him, the pandemic and the economic crisis did not seem to prevent Indonesians from giving. The pandemic and crisis actually increased the spirit of solidarity to help others. “The only thing that has changed is the form of donation and the amount. Affected communities continue to donate money even though the amount is smaller, or donate in other forms, such as goods and labor (volunteers). In several social and philanthropic organizations, the number of donations continues to rise, although the increase is not as high as in normal times," he said.
The WGI report shows that Indonesia has managed to maintain as first position in the midst of the pandemic compared to other countries whose positions went down due to the implementation of lockdown policies and restrictions. Most of the western countries that normally occupy the WGI Top 10 have dropped in the rankings possibly due to the effects of the pandemic. For example, the United States fell to 19th in the world, having previously been consistently placed in the top 5. While Ireland, England and Singapore have slipped from 5th and 6th to 26th and 22nd.
Hamid observed several factors that support Indonesia's success in maintaining its position as a generous nation:
First, the strong influence of religious teachings and local traditions related to giving and helping others in Indonesia. WGI's findings confirm this by showing that religious-based donations (especially Zakat, infaq and alms) are the main drivers of philanthropic activities in Indonesia during the pandemic.
Second, the relatively better economic condition compared to other countries. We have to admit that the pandemic hits the economic sector hard which also has an impact on people's purchasing power and capacity to give. However, compared to other countries, Indonesia’s policy for handling Covid-19 is considered better so that it does not have as strong of an impact on the country’s economic conditions. WGI noted that several countries that had incorrectly implemented policies to deal with the pandemic had a lower position in the WGI compared to before because of the economic impact and decreased capacity to donate.
Third, philanthropic actors in Indonesia have been successful in encouraging the transformation of philanthropic activities from conventional to digital platforms. Various fundraising obstacles during the pandemic due to social distancing and other restrictions have been successfully overcome through digital platforms, so these regulations did not have much effect on philanthropic activities. There has been an increase in the number of donations to philanthropic organizations using digital platforms, especially during the pandemic.
Fourth, the increase of the role and involvement of youth and key opinion leaders/influencers in philanthropic activities. Their involvement allows philanthropy to use popular media and communication channels to reach more audience, especially young people.
However, amid this encouraging achievement, there are a number of homework that must be addressed to further advance Indonesia’s philanthropy. Hamid said that Indonesia's large potential for philanthropy’s mobilization has not been optimal because public donation is still mainly through direct giving and and not well organized. People prefer to donate directly to individual beneficiaries rather than to social organizations. Donations to religious activities and social services are also very dominant compared to long-term programs, such as education, health, economic empowerment, environmental conservation, etc. In addition, the development of philanthropy in Indonesia has not been supported by adequate data because the government and other stakeholders do not have an awareness of the importance of philanthropy data.
“What is even more ironic is that our volunteering activities, which in WGI are stated to be more than three times the global average, have not yet received support and protection. Many volunteers work without adequate equipment and do not receive social security. The sad thing is volunteers or humanitarian activists are not included in the priority group to receive vaccination. In fact, during the pandemic, thousands of volunteers and humanitarian workers immediately went to help the community even with the risk of being exposed to Covid-19," he said.
Hamid also mentioned philanthropy regulations and tax incentives as factors that are not supportive, even hindering the Indonesian philanthropic sector. Regulations related to philanthropy are outdated, less appreciative and tend to be restrictive towards philanthropic activities.
Meanwhile, tax incentive policies in Indonesia, which are usually the driving factor for philanthropic activities, are behind the time compared to other countries. These policies do not encourage individuals nor corporations to donate because of their limited scope, small amount, and the lack of clarity and inconsistency in their implementation. "That's what makes people reluctant to access our tax incentives when they donate," he said.
Hamid hopes that international recognition of Indonesia's philanthropic potential can move the government to support and mobilize the philanthropic sector as an actor and resource for national development. Moreover, philanthropy has been recognized as one of the pillars in achieving the SDGs in Indonesia. "This support can be provided through various conducive regulations, facilities and incentives to institutions and philanthropic actors as well as donors," he said.
The content was originally authored by Filantropi Indonesia
Photo credit: Camille Bismonte on Unsplash.
The views expressed in the press release are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the SDG Philanthropy Platform. The SDG Philanthropy Platform is a global initiative that connects philanthropy with knowledge and networks that can deepen collaboration, leverage resources and sustain impact, driving SDG delivery within national development planning. It is led by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and WINGS, and supported by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Ford Foundation, Oak Foundation, Brach Family Charitable Foundation, and many others.