Australians as a nation were named the ‘world’s most generous country’ in December 2012 by the World Giving Index, compiled by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), an international charity which promotes charitable giving via companies and individuals.
The survey, compiled by CAF using polling information from Gallup on the charitable behaviour of more than 155,000 people in 146 countries, found more Australians had, on average, donated money, volunteered time or helped a stranger in December last year than any other country.
Overall 76% of Australians had given money to a good cause, while 67% had helped a stranger. More than a third of Australians had volunteered time.
Those who should be doing the majority of the giving – those with the most disposable income, those who have massive resources at their fingertips – aren’t the ones putting their hands in their pockets.
Frequently compared to their counterparts in America, where philanthropy is an expectation, on average our big hitters give less than 3% of their wealth. More than 30% of those who earn more than $1 million don’t claim a charitable tax donation.
America’s millionaires give away, on average, 15% of their wealth.
Why are those Australians – in general – who have the most, so reluctant to share?
It’s not only cold hard cash that our business leaders and changemakers don’t part with readily. It is the passing on of knowledge to those coming up through the corporate ranks or wanting to become entrepreneurs. It is a lack of compassion for people who are in marginal positions in society who may have the drive and determination and potential – but who will never have an opportunity to succeed because nobody believes in them.
Australia is a lucky, lucky country. The only way that it can remain this way is for those who have everything to start giving back more to those who have nothing – but have a burning desire to achieve something.
This is a values based decision. This has nothing to do with corporate expectations or making one’s company look good. This is about whether you as an individual, who has been fortunate, are willing to open your wallet – and your mind – to others who are champing at the bit to get somewhere in life.
It does involve sacrifice. Not necessarily money; sometimes it means giving up time, or knowledge, or perhaps all of these things. And it shouldn’t be done out of a sense of obligation, because there is no sincerity in that; and that will show very quickly. But take a rummage inside your head. Look hard. Are you happy with what you give out, as opposed to what you take? If the answer is no, then start making some changes. And make them now.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying your good fortune. After all, we all work damn hard and we deserve to enjoy every bit of it. But think just how much more enjoyable it is knowing that for every success you have, someone else is perhaps going to be succeeding on their own terms – because you didn’t shrug and say ‘someone else is bound to help’.
Be a leader, not a follower. And give more than you take. The wheel of fortune, as trite as this may sound, does turn – and you never know when you may be grateful for taking the time and effort to simply say ‘what can I do to help?’…
And actually do it.
Do what you say. Don’t just say what you’ll do.
It will make your life a better one. That I can promise you.
LBDG is committed to giving back to the future of Australia through the First Seeds Fund. Please join our members in giving – whether it is through time, skills, or of course monetary means – to this very important cause.