Philanthropy in Sri Lanka

APPC (Asian Pacific Philanthropy Consortium), the only organization to promote and support philanthropy in the Asia Pacific, recently published the first study on individual giving in Sri Lanka.  The demand for information and resources on philanthropy in the Asia Pacific is growing.  Unfortunately, there are still very limited resources for those wanting to learn more about philanthropy in the various countries.  Some ancedotal stories and examples of individual philanthropists in the region exist but there are very few studies or research that capture the understanding and complexities of individual giving – especially in the smaller countries, such as Sri Lanka.

Supported by The Asia Foundation, the study, the Measure of Giving in Asia Pacific: Sri Lanka, hopes that the knowledge generated by the study will “highlight more local resources and encourage non-profit institutions to consider individuals as potential givers and a more sustainable source of funding.  For government, gaining information about individual giving may encourage the development of a more enabling environment for philanthropy.  For philanthropists, it might help them benchmark their giving.  Finally, for organizations that wish to encourage more individual giving, it may provide the background for technical assistance to the philanthropic process.”

500 + individuals were interviewed in urban and rural areas in December 2007.  Respondents were asked about their contributions, volunteerism, and/or donations in cash or in-kind, what kind of organizations they had supported, why they had supported such organizations, and how much they gave.  Below are some key findings:

*  99% of the respondents made cash donations, on average, about 3 to 4 times a month in the 12 months preceding the survey.  93% made goods donations about twice month in the year preceding the survey.  54% volunteered their time, once to twice monthly

* The practice of philanthropy is not new; people in Sri Lanka have been engaging in philanthropy for about 20 years.  Family tradition (90%) and religious traditions (67%) created their awareness of philanthropy.

* Beggars and religious organizations (91%) were the largest and most-preferred recipient groups.  The disabled, children/orphans, and senior citizens are amongst the most supported causes.

* Before deciding to give, most respondents cited the need to know how the organization is managed, the activities and programs, and their impact on their beneficiaries.

* Motivations to give included culturally rooted family traditions, compassion, and religious belief.  Rural respondents cited family traditions, a sense of moral and social responsibility, and a desire to feel good about themselves.

* When giving to organizations, it was important to believe in the work of the organization and to truste the advocates of the organization.  For rural respondents, the advocates must be prominent in society.

Download Measure of Giving in Asia Pacific Sri Lanka