Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Hong Kong charity giving: leader or laggard?

In a word: leader.  Hong Kong is THE world leader in charity giving, whether by government or by individuals.

This came to mind when an old friend accused me of living in a
"glittery shiny plastic consumer driven fantasy world of muchos $$$$ and such waste and no heart or soul or empathy for the have nots". 
 I first did a quick bit of research.

I'd known or believed for some time that Hong Kong was a place where people, individuals and government, gave to charity in much greater proportion than most places in the world.  I'd "known" this for some time, but with nothing to back it, other than noting how much people opened their pockets to those less well off and to major world catastrophies.  In my case, the company I ran for some years, we held a major charity drive every year -- the Trailwalker Race for Oxfam -- and raised $500,000 every year, for the charity and I personally saw what it did for villages in Nepal.  That activity has carried on since I left the company.

But what of figures to prove that point?  I found some figures that showed Hong Kong was at the top of a table of government aid per capita, up with Norway [1].  On government aid, I found that we were also up there at the top of the table.  For example, four of the top Asian philanthropists were from Hong Kong (population seven million), four from Australia/New Zealand (population 25 million) [2].

I'd been meaning to post this for some time, then today an article in the South China Morning Post that gives even more detailed figures [3], and shows that Hong Kong is not only at the top of the world league in private and government giving, but that it's way up there well above the next most generous (Norway).

Some highlights:

  • Nearly nine out of 10 people gave to charities in the past year, an average of HK$ 2,986 (US$ 382).  This compares with just cents per person in the "world's wealthiest countries".
  • The number of charities rose from 3,819 in 2003 to 5,898 last year.
  • Donations from individuals and companies rose from HK$ 2.89 billion (US$ 370 million) in 2003 to HK$ 7.03 billion (US$ nearly 1 billion) in 2008.

That's not really a place with "no soul or empathy" is it?

[1]  Global Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  Per Capita Foreign Aid Assistance by World's Wealthiest Countries.   Here.
[2]  Top Asian Philanthropists, Forbes Magazine.  Here.
[3]  South China Morning Post, 24 March.  Information on Charities in Hong Kong.  Here .  Pdf here .