Though you would probably be inclined to think that many people aren’t generous, this would be a false assumption. Charity is a large part of everyday life for most human beings. Due to the fact that there are billions of people giving charity, even the ones without many resources, it is only logical to hypothesize that the global charity figure is over $1 trillion annually. The U.S. alone was responsible for close to $360 billion in donations in 2014.
So what drives these donations? There is no hard statistical data on this, however two factors pop out here: overall financial status and religion. Take a look at the list of the most charitable countries in the world. The countries to round out the top are either considered first world (wealthy) countries or religious ones. Since we are a Jewish charity, we were curious to see how Israel placed on the World Giving Index. But nothing prepared us for what we saw.
In both 2013 and 2014, Israel ranked as the 31st and 32nd most charitable country in the world. Given the fact that Israel is less than 70 years old and has a population of less than 9 million, Israel’s standing within this index was quite impressive. And even though Israel is considered to be a wealthy country and does sport a majority religious population, it’s not a forgone conclusion that people would be generous. France is a wealthy country and does have a decent sized religious population, but they consistently rank in the 70-90 spot. In any event, we then looked at Israel’s rank in 2015. The result? 75th place – a drop of more than 40 spots in one year! How could this happen?
After taking a look into it, we didn’t see any major changes year over year. The economy actually grew. Real estate prices have increased, thus making investors more money. Salaries have shot up as well. So, what could it be? The only plausible reason is: the significant increase in domestic poverty levels.
Though we mentioned that poor people have a tendency to donate as much as the wealthy, there is a certain threshold that people reach whereby they can no longer donate. At the end of the day, people need to look out for their families first. In Israel, the known poverty rate is 32%. These people are living in some of the harshest conditions on the planet – in a place that’s considered a first world country with first world prices on basic necessities.
We would love to see Israel reverse course and get back to their elite status in the World Giving Index. But, as long as poverty levels continue to rise annually, it’s hard to expect any change.
The good news is that you can help make a difference and assist in the reversing of this dangerous path. Yad Ezra V’Shulamit not only provides food for the poor and hungry in Israel, but we also help with education and jobs, thus breaking the cycle of poverty once and for all. Your donations fund our endeavors and thus help reduce the poverty levels in Israel – one person at a time.