Danes among the world’s most generous givers

Danes are in the top 20 globally when it comes to their willingness to donate their time, money and assistance, a new study shows.

Danes among the world's most generous givers
Even the prime minister donates her time: PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt at the homeless shelter Mændenes Hjem earlier this month. Photo: Keld Navntoft/Scanpix

Danes are among the most generous people in the world according to the World Giving Index 2014. Coming in at number 18 on the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) rankings, Danes are more giving of their time and money than their immediate neighbours but behind less wealthy countries like Kenya and Trinidad and Tobago.

Myanmar and the United States tied to top the list and just five of the most generous countries are among the world's 20 largest economies. According to CAR, 11 of the G20 nations fail to even crack the top 50 in the generosity index.

The World Giving Index is based on the percentage of people in a given month who donate their money to charity, their time to a volunteer cause or help a stranger. The index looked at charitable behaviour in 135 countries.

Of the three behaviours, Danes were the most likely to donate their money, with 62 percent of Danish respondents reported that they had donated money within the last month. Fifty-five percent of Danes said they had helped a stranger and 23 percent volunteered their time.

Denmark's top 20 placing came as no surprise to Anders Ladekarl, the general secretary of the Danish Red Cross.

'I would have thought that Danes would have been ranked even higher. We experience a strong desire to give amongst Danes – both in terms of time and money,' Ladekarl told Metroxpress.

See also: Danes donate millions to world's refugees

Earlier this month, Danes handed over more than 16 million kroner in the Danish Refugee Council's annual door-to-door collection campaign, the best result in ten years.

Danes were well above immediate neighbours Sweden and Germany, which were ranked as the 40th and 28th most generous nations in the world, respectively.

Worldwide, CAF estimates that 2.3 billion people helped a stranger in 2014, while 1.4 billion donated money and 1.0 billion volunteered their time. More stats from the World Giving Index 2014 are below and the full rankings can be seen here.

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Why are record numbers in Denmark asking for charity help this Christmas?

More people than ever before have asked the Danish Red Cross for help this Christmas.

Why are record numbers in Denmark asking for charity help this Christmas?
Another charity in Denmark, Frelsens Hær, handing out Christmas packages in 2017. Photo: Thomas Lekfeldt/Ritzau Scanpix

The Danish Red Cross expects to give up to 12,000 families assistance getting in food for Christmas this year.

That would represent a record number of families asking for a helping hand, Politiken reports.

Although an increase in people turning to charity for help sounds alarming, it is partly due to a reduction in negative connotations being made with financial difficulty, according to a head of department at the charity.

“In the last ten years, there has been an enormous increase in the number of families with children who apply for Christmas assistance. And we are going to set a record this year,” Ziga Friberg, head of the family section at the Danish Red Cross, told Politiken.

“This is not something we are pleased about, even though we’re happy to help. That’s because we’d prefer it if life wasn’t so hard that families need to ask for our help at Christmas,” Friberg said.

In 2010, 1,600 families with children received Red Cross Christmas help. The figure grew to 7,300 in 2015 and 11,700 last year.

The charity’s Christmas help package consists of either a food hamper or a gift voucher to be spent at a store belonging to the Coop supermarket chain.

Several factors are likely to have contributed to the increase in people turning to the charity for help at Christmas, Politiken writes.

“We know that many families still think it is embarrassing and shameful that they are in a situation where they need a helping hand. But we are quite convinced that it has become less of a taboo to ask for help when you need a hand, including at Christmas,” Friberg told the newspaper.

“The stigmatized shame with which (receiving) Christmas charity has always been associated is still there, but probably to a lesser degree,” she said.

Three criteria must be fulfilled for families to qualify for the charity’s Christmas help.

The family must include children, must not be receiving help from other charities, and Red Cross must exchange information about the family with local authorities, given that it is often municipal social workers who provide families with information about the Christmas charity packages.

“These are families known by the municipalities and who we often also know ourselves from our long-term activities. These are families who genuinely need a helping hand,” Friberg said.

Figures from the Economic Council of the Labour Movement (Arbejderbevægelses Erhvervsråd, ECLM) show that the last two years have seen a substantial increase in families struggling to make ends meet due to low income, according to Politiken’s report.

That is also likely related to the increased use of the Christmas charity package.

“These are not families with large social networks or other family members who can step in and help. These families are alone, often on social security, suffering from long-term illness or in very low-paid jobs which make it hard for them to give their children a Christmas that is just a little bit like the one the rest of us have,” Friberg said.

The Danish Red Cross is one of a number of charitable organizations in the country that offer assistance to underprivileged families at Christmas.

READ ALSO: Escape route from poverty shortest in Denmark: OECD