With many pressing social needs, the philanthropic world is continuing to evolve. Despite a retreat in prosocial behaviors globally since the pandemic, more giving is in evidence in parts of the world.
While the world today is by almost every measure wealthier than ever before, human need remains widespread and pressing.
But the nature of those needs – and society’s efforts to address them – are constantly evolving.
A newly published Citi Global Perspectives & Solutions (Citi GPS) report – Philanthropy and the Global Economy v3.0 – explores some of the key trends in giving recorded in 2022 while also looking to the future of giving.
Prosocial behaviors ease back
After several years of increasing global generosity, prosocial behaviors – donating money, volunteering time, and helping others – saw a slight year-on-year decline in 2022 – Figure 1.
This followed a surge during the pandemic-stricken year of 2021.
Nevertheless, all three behaviors remained significantly above their average levels in 2017-19.
At the global level, the report says that philanthropy has become more democratic in the last three years.
Or, put another way, more people are giving their time and money to benefit the greater good.
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 ease with which strangers can give to one another, mediated 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, do not tell the whole story. Beneath the surface, some big 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” by the gains made by growth in actions outside traditionally philanthropic countries in 2021 and 2022.2
Growth in giving outside Europe and North America echoes where trust in NGOs is now highest.
The highest level of trust is found in China, Kenya, India, and Nigeria, which have not historically given a high share of their GDP to organized nonprofits.3
What the philanthropic sector is thinking
As well as hard data, the Citi GPS report also features interviews with various nonprofit leaders.
These leaders hail from roles across fundraising, finance, and the C-suite, and from causes ranging from international development and domestic poverty alleviation to education and the arts.
A recurrent theme of these conversations was that the sector is emerging from a period of reflection.
Events such as the global pandemic and the subsequent economic challenges in much of the world, have highlighted systemic inequalities.
As Sarah Haacke Byrd, CEO of Women Moving Millions, a global community of women philanthropists, put it:
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?
The report posits a future where charitable dollars are increasingly drawn from corporates and foundations.
It argues that this will make effective partnerships with corporates even more important. Alongside this, it says there is value to be unlocked from for-profit companies that are seeking to make social impact.
It also explores such vital questions as how the emergence of artificial intelligence may help to reshape the giving landscape.
To read the full Citi GPS report, please click the link below.