By Christos Meliopoulos – Nicosia
Despite the economic hardship Cypriots remain among the most charitable people around the world. The annual World Giving Index compiled by the UK-based Charities Aid Foundation ranks Cyprus 24th out of 135 countries, based on the people’s willingness to offer help, money and time.
More specifically, the Index score is based on an average of three measures of giving behaviour – the percentage of people who, in a typical month, donate money to charity, volunteer their time, and help a stranger. Cyprus managed a total of 43 points out of a possible 100.
Cyprus was 37th in helping a stranger, 27th in donating money and 34th in volunteering. 54% of the country’s residents that took part in the survey said that they do help a stranger in a typical month; 47% give money to charity and 27% volunteer their time.
The report is based on more than half a million interviews conducted by Gallup since 2005/06, as part of their World Poll survey.
Cyprus seems to be bucking a trend that wants countries in severe crisis becoming a bit more selfish, to a large degree because one has to fend for themselves before being able to help others. Sociologist Louisa Panagiotopoulou says that the Cypriots’ altruism is down to the country’s size and culture: “Smaller societies tend to have disputes that are intense; but they do stick together more often than not. And it’s also the village culture that is very much alive today.”
In the case of Cyprus one also has to take into account the fact that a significant percentage of its people live abroad, in western societies that have a remarkably developed volunteering culture, such as the UK, the USA and Canada, which feature in the top six of the World Giving Index, as well as in Australia.
At the other end of the Index features Greece – 135th out of the 135 countries.
In general this year’s report shows that, though the pace of economic expansion has slowed, the levels of involvement in giving – for all three measures – have increased on last year’s results.