How “giving” are Russians? Not very it seems: survey

Alisher Usmanov is one of Russia's biggest philanthropists. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Russia, ranked 126th out of 140 countries surveyed, is among the worst for CIS and Eastern European states

ST PETERSBURG: Russia is ranked among the worst in terms of charitable acts, coming in 126th out of 140 countries, a survey on how giving nations are has found.

The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) World Giving Index 2016 measured three ways of giving in 140 countries: donating money to a charity; helping a stranger; and volunteering time to a charitable organisation in the past one month.

The survey, in its 5th run, interviewed 2,000 Russian individuals face-to-face between July and September last year.

Russia scored 126th (1st being best, and 140th worst) among 140 countries:

Russians are more likely to help a stranger, with more than 1 in 3 doing so, compared to 1 in 5 from results in 2012’s World Giving Index.

Here is a glance at the rankings of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and eastern European states:

Uzbekistan: 11
Turkmenistan: 15
Kyrgyzstan: 34
Tajikistan: 87
Kazakhstan: 96
Belarus: 100
Ukraine: 106

Moldova: 110
Latvia: 113
Estonia: 118
Georgia: 120
Lithuania: 124
Russia: 126
Armenia: 130
Azerbaijan: 131

The survey, conducted by Gallup, excluded the Chechen Republic, Republic of Ingushetia, Republic of Dagestan and the Republic of Crimea due to political instabilities. The Republic of Adygeya, Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, Republic of Karachaevo-Cherkessie, and North Ossetia were excluded due to high crime rates. Remote small settlements in far-eastern Siberia were also excluded. They represent about 6% of the population.

Fewer volunteering but more donating to charities

Russia, which was previously ranked 8th in 2014 in terms of the number of people volunteering time, has seen fewer people participating as volunteers. However, there has been an increase in both the proportion and the actual number of people donating to a charity.

Overall, the top 20 most giving countries are: Myanmar, United States, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Sri Lanka, Ireland, Malaysia, Kenya, Malta, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Norway, Guatemala, Bhutan, Kyrgyzstan, Thailand and Germany.

Globally, helping a stranger is the most common way to give (51.4% global average), giving time is more than half less (21.6% global average).

The “giving” culture in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan

Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, out of the CIS and eastern European states, were the only two countries to be in the top 20 most giving countries in the world.

Uzbekistan, in particular, improved its standing from being ranked 50th in 2013. However, it also saw a sharp fall from 43% to 27% in terms of the proportion of people volunteering their time. This, CAF speculates, could be due to the fact that the surveys did not coincide with subbotniks which are state-mandated volunteering days.

Turkmenistan, on the other hand, moved up the ranks rising 56 places to be ranked 15th due to a threefold increase in the number of people volunteering their time. This could be due to the return of subbotnik, a national day of volunteering called by the Turkmenistan government, or the proximity to Ramadan during the surveying period (July and August last year) celebrated by the Muslim-majority country.

What are subbotniks?

Subbotnik is the practice of giving up a weekend, usually Saturday (therefore the name), to volunteer or perform unpaid labour. This can be widely found in many former Soviet states with some of them state-sanctioned to fill in gaps in services. According to Russiapedia by Russia Today, the idea of subbotnik came about in the early 1900s as a way to unite revolutionary-minded masses and promote socialism through labour.

Over the years, the importance of subbotnik has ebbed and waned with the ruling political beliefs of the day. During the Soviet era, subbotnik was one of the centrepieces of the socialist society. Citizens were asked to participate after winter to tidy up the city in preparation for springtime. Today, subbotnik can still be found in former Soviet states in both voluntary and obligatory settings.

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