Gen­eros­ity can pay off in many ways

PressReader - LStep Channel - Gen­eros­ity can pay off in many ways
These days, with all the anger, con­flict and mis­ery re­ported in the news, shown on tele­vi­sion, film and de­picted in nov­els and video games, it’s easy to fall into a dystopian world view.Worse, act­ing on those neg­a­tive per­cep­tions and de­pic­tions fu­els more de­spair and di­vi­sion, break­ing down com­mu­ni­ties and caus­ing deep un­hap­pi­ness.But more than half the people in the world, in­clud­ing a ma­jor­ity of Cana­di­ans, are lis­ten­ing to their bet­ter an­gels, ac­cord­ing to a Gallup’s an­nual Most Gen­er­ous Coun­try In­dex re­leased last week.It es­ti­mates that 4.6 bil­lion people did acts of kind­ness last year, in­clud­ing do­nat­ing money, vol­un­teer­ing and of­fer­ing help to strangers. It sur­veyed 1,000 adults in each of 146 coun­tries.In a world where we seem in­creas­ingly in fear of strangers, 43 per cent of people helped some­one they didn’t know in the pre­vi­ous month. And that’s only the av­er­age.In Libya, 83 per cent of sur­vey re­spon­dents said they’d helped some­one. Iraq was a close second, fol­lowed by Kuwait, Liberia and Sierra Leone all at 80 per cent. The worst places to be alone and help­less? Cambodia, Laos and Ja­pan, where fewer than a quar­ter had helped a stranger.Nearly a bil­lion people were vol­un­teers last year, with In­done­sians the most will­ing to do­nate time to char­i­ta­ble causes. In­done­sia tops Gallup’s list of the most gen­er­ous coun­tries.Nowhere do as many people make fi­nan­cial do­na­tions as in Myan­mar, which ranks 128th in the world when it comes to wealth and among the top 10 when it comes to gen­eros­ity. Gallup at­tributes it to strong Bud­dhist tra­di­tions.“But gen­er­ous to whom?” is good ques­tion. More than 700,000 Ro­hingya have fled the coun­try in the past two years af­ter what the United Na­tions has de­scribed as “a text­book ex­am­ple of eth­nic cleans­ing” by Myan­mar’s mil­i­tary.Canada’s gen­eros­ity score puts it in the top 10 along with Aus­tralia, New Zealand, the United States, Ire­land, Bri­tain, Sin­ga­pore, Bahrain, Nether­lands, United Arab Emi­rates, Haiti and oth­ers (There were sev­eral tie scores).What’s con­cern­ing, how­ever, is that Cana­di­ans are less gen­er­ous now than they were 30 years ago, ac­cord­ing to a 2018 re­port by the Rideau Hall Foun­da­tion.While the to­tal value of do­na­tions in­creased 150 per cent be­tween 1985 and 2014 to $14.3 bil­lion, the num­ber of donors has fallen steadily in the past 25 years.The foun­da­tion sug­gests that with fewer Cana­di­ans now linked to re­li­gious in­sti­tu­tions, people have trou­ble find­ing a cause they want to sup­port. But it also found that a grow­ing num­ber of Cana­di­ans doubt their money will be used ef­fi­ciently.An­other study done in 2017 by the An­gusReid Foun­da­tion and the Char­i­ta­ble Im­pact Foun­da­tion speaks to the dis­con­nect. It found that 45 per cent of Cana­di­ans do­nate less than $250 a year to char­ity. Given that many Cana­di­ans strug­gle to pay for hous­ing and food, that’s per­haps not so sur­pris­ing.What is sur­pris­ing is that six in 10 don’t give be­cause they’re skep­ti­cal that char­i­ties do what they prom­ise with the money. Three-quar­ters don’t think char­i­ties should ex­ist. They be­lieve it’s up to gov­ern­ments to make the world a bet­ter place, not in­di­vid­u­als and char­i­ties.Of those non-givers and low donors, nearly a quar­ter earn more than $100,000 a year.What hasn’t changed are the rea­sons Cana­di­ans give: com­pas­sion, be­lief in a par­tic­u­lar cause, a de­sire to con­trib­ute to the com­mu­nity.Canada has more than 170,000 char­i­ta­ble and non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tions that, among other things, feed and house the poor, pro­vide shel­ter to vic­tims of vi­o­lence, pro­voke cu­rios­ity at mu­se­ums and gal­leries, in­spire cre­ativ­ity, chal­lenge our minds and feed our souls at the­atres and con­cert halls.With­out donors — and ab­sent an over­whelm­ing move­ment of cit­i­zens will­ing to pay much higher taxes to make up the dif­fer­ence — mil­lions of Cana­di­ans will lose out on all of that.For those raised in the Chris­tian tra­di­tion, this is the sea­son of giv­ing. For those who aren’t, it’s the time of year when the clock is tick­ing down to make tax-de­ductible do­na­tions.In these dark days with so many people in need both in our own com­mu­nity and be­yond, what bet­ter time to be gen­er­ous not only to fam­ily and friends, but by ex­tend­ing help to strangers.

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