How philanthropy is evolving

By almost every measure, the world is wealthier than ever. Still, it’s hard to turn on your TV or open up social media without seeing the pressing need that still exists in communities around the globe. 

The areas of need and methods used to address them are constantly evolving. 

Citi Global Perspectives & Solutions recently published their latest report – Philanthropy and the Global Economy v3.0, which explores some of the key trends around giving in 2022 and beyond. 


Charitable sentiment is blossoming


Although there was a slight decline in 2022, the overall rate of prosocial behavior – aka donating money, volunteering, and helping a stranger – has grown significantly since 2020. 

This means that, at the global level, philanthropy is becoming more democratic. 

The biggest growth among the three metrics is in helping a stranger, an activity performed independently of formal nonprofit organizations.

Part of this might be due to the increasing convenience offered by new technologies like crowdfunding platforms.

Another factor here is that trust in non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as institutions is lacking, having modestly declined1 in 2022. This might be pushing would-be donors away from formal nonprofits.


Growth in giving in Asia and Africa


The global figures, however, don’t tell the whole story. Dig a bit deeper and shifts appear to be happening.

Prior to COVID, 40% of the population in Western Europe, together with the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, performed prosocial actions. This compared to 30% in the rest of the world.

However, this gap was “substantially closed” in 2021 and 2022 by the growth in actions outside traditionally philanthropic countries. 2 

This growth outside of Europe and North America echoes another shift: trust in NGOs. The highest level of trust is found in China, Kenya, India, and Nigeria, which have not historically given a large share of their GDP to organized nonprofits. 3


What the philanthropic sector is thinking


The data isn’t the whole story, either. When speaking to philanthropic leaders across a range of causes and roles, a recurrent theme emerged.  Many felt that the sector is emerging from a period of reflection.

Events like the global pandemic and the economic challenges that followed have highlighted systemic inequalities.

Sarah Haacke Byrd, CEO of Women Moving Millions, a global community of women philanthropists, said it best: “We are shifting towards implementation: After a period of reflection, philanthropists are looking at how to live by the values they have redefined.”


So, what next?


Signs point toward a future where charitable dollars are increasingly coming  from corporates and foundations.

This would make effective partnerships between NGOs and corporates even more important.

In our view, there is also a lot of value to yet to be unlocked from for-profit companies that are seeking to make social impact.

Technology will also continue to play an important role in reshaping the giving landscape. We believe that the emergence of artificial intelligence, in particular, will surely impact both giving and NGO operations in the future. 

To read the full Citi GPS report, please click the link below.