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Middle-class Tanzanians give away a quarter of their monthly income says ground-breaking research

2 October 2020

The scale of giving by middle-class Tanzanians is revealed in a comprehensive new study of charitable giving published today.

Research commissioned by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) in partnership with the Aga Khan Foundation, the CS Mott Foundation and the UK National Lottery Community Fund shows that people give away 24% of their monthly income – 1 Shilling in 4 – to helping others, often through informal gifts to family, friends and neighbours.

Urban, middle-class Tanzanians give an average of 158,000 Tanzanian Shillings each month to blood-related family members and an average of 138,000 Tanzanian Shillings to charitable organisations.

The report found that 58% of middle-class Tanzanians had given money to a blood relative or paid for something on their behalf in the previous 12 months, while 49% had given money to extended family members, friends or other people they know, or paid for something on their behalf in the previous 12 months.

Compared with giving levels detailed in the Charities Aid Foundation’s (CAF) World Giving Index, these astonishing levels of generosity outstrip those of developed nations around the world.

While this research was carried out in late 2019, the findings and recommendations in the report come just weeks after the country officially achieved the World Bank’s lower-middle income status. Previous research by CAF has examined the potential for charitable giving that lies with the estimated 2.4 billion people set to join the world’s middle classes and found that if they were to give just over 0.5% of their spending, as much as $319 billion could be raised to not only support charities, but to help countries strengthen the local organisations that speak up on behalf of society’s most vulnerable.

The research also found that:

  • Community based organisations are the most commonly supported charitable organisations among middle-class Tanzanians (50%).
  • 60% of middle-class supporters of CSOs in Tanzania had supported causes dedicated to children and young people.This was closely followed by those helping the poor and hungry (54%).
  • Cash payments remain the most popular way to give (95%), but mobile payment services are also widely used (54%).
  • Even where tax incentives to charitable giving are in place, most people do not know about them (53%) or are unlikely to take advantage of them (91%).

CAF Head of Global Alliance Development Sameera Mehra, said of the findings:

“Whilst this research was carried out late last year, the findings and recommendations are perhaps even more relevant as the world recovers in the aftermath of Covid-19. The cultural traditions of giving to family, friends and neighbours were well known even before this study.  We have been humbled by the extent of the generosity and the fact that most people do not even regard it as charitable giving – it is just a part of everyday life.

“This research has provided us with valuable insight into how we can work to strengthen local giving in fast-growing economies and see local organisations at both a community and national level take a bigger leadership role in order to not just increase giving, but to strengthen these democracies. Achieving this will provide a domestic alternative to foreign aid and overseas NGO funding, but can also engage more citizens in society and create a more open democracy.”

Executive Director of Africa Philanthropy Network, Dr Stigmata Tenga, who advised on the research project, said:

“This timely research tells a story of opportunity for Tanzania, despite the challenges we face with a global pandemic in our midst. At the heart of building our society and strengthening our democracy is the generosity of the people of Tanzania and this report helps us to better understand the nature of our philanthropic giving. It will help us chart a path to empower CSOs to invest and take the lead into the next phase of our growth, both economically and as strong voices for wider society.”

Imran Sherali, Research Lead at Foundation for Civil Society, said:

“This report helps us to better understand the Tanzanian behaviour patterns for giving and learn how we are similar and different with neighbouring countries in the region. It will help us chart a path to empower a more sustainable civil society sector and lead us in our journey as a middle-income country.” 


Notes to Editors


Working in partnership with the Aga Khan Foundation, the CS Mott Foundation and the National Lottery Community Fund, CAF undertook to look at individual giving, the enabling environment, and challenges for civil society organisations in Tanzania.

This report complements the international research into giving that CAF has conducted for decades, including our renowned CAF World Giving Index which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2019.

The research agency Ipsos MORI was commissioned to conduct a broad, mixed-methods landscaping study of civil society and individual giving in Tanzania.

The research was developed with CAF’s key objectives in mind, to understand:

  • the enabling environment in Tanzania, including how and why people give and what causes they give to, as well as obstacles and challenges in giving;
  • what would make the public engage with civil society and social issues; and
  • the challenges faced by the civil society sector and the impact of the challenges on civil society’s ability to address local needs.

Ipsos MORI’s research combined both qualitative and quantitative methods:

  • 9 qualitative, semi-structured interviews with CSO leaders;
  • 1 focus group discussion with urban, middle-income adults; and
  • a face-to-face survey with urban, middle-income adults – 306 interviews in total.

About African Philanthropy Network

African Philanthropy Network is the only continent-wide network of organisations and individuals in Africa and its diaspora which promotes the culture of philanthropic giving.

About Foundation for Civil Society

Foundation for Civil Society is an independent Tanzanian non-profit organisation that provides grants and capacity building services to civil society organisations.

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