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Middle class Ugandans give 1 Shilling in 3 to family, community or charity, says ground-breaking research


29 September 2020

The scale of giving by middle class Ugandans is revealed by 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 31% of their monthly income – 1 Shilling in 3 - to individuals or charitable organisations.

Moreover, when researchers tried to determine the percentage of people who had not given any informal gifts or support to family, friends and community members over the past year, the response was unanimous – 100% of those surveyed had given.

And more than 9 out of 10 people (93%) said their charitable giving did not leave them struggling to make ends meet – hinting that they might be able to give a bit more.

The giving trends in this study, which was conducted before the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, come despite Uganda not yet achieving middle-income status owing to falling growth rates – the result of drought and conflict in neighbouring nations. Uganda is home to 1.4 million refugees, the largest number in Africa.

The study built on previous research by CAF into the potential for charitable giving by the estimated 2.4 billion people set to join the world’s middle classes by 2030. Estimates suggest that were members of the growing middle classes to give just over 0.5% of their spending, as much as $319 billion could be raised worldwide to support charities and strengthen organisations that speak up on behalf of society’s most vulnerable.

CAF Head of Global Alliance Development Sameera Mehra said:

“Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic this research had uncovered a base level of generosity in Uganda and the fact that most people did not even regard it as charitable giving - it was just a part of everyday life. This culture of informal support for family and neighbours has undoubtedly continued as the pandemic gripped and has effectively acted as a vital informal welfare system.

“As the world slowly recovers from the shock of Covid-19, the next step for Uganda is to build on this generosity to strengthen local, regional and national organisations.

“By strengthening charities and civil society across Uganda, the country can invite more citizens to become involved in strengthening society.  A more open democracy will be the end result.”

The report also found:

  • There is a deep-rooted belief in the importance of ‘paying it forward’ – when someone received help in life, their instinct is to do similar for others
  • Cash payments remain the most popular way to give, but mobile payment services are also widely used
  • Around half of survey respondents (54%) had supported a faith based organisation, the main type of formal charity or organisation supported
  • Among those who have supported a formal charity or organisation in the past 12 months, the most common cause was children and young people (78%); this was followed by helping the poor or hungry (62%)
  • Most people do not know about available tax incentives to charitable giving

Chief Executive Officer of CivSource Africa, Jacqueline Asiimwe, said:

“Ugandans’ willingness to give is part of our spirit and is on display in this important piece of research from the Charities Aid Foundation.

“It reminds both Ugandans and those further afield that giving by people here – to help their families, friends, fellow citizens, and indeed those seeking safety from neighbouring countries, is a part of who we are.

“We have demonstrated throughout the Covid-19 crisis that we are a nation that helps others in need and those who can give are giving generously. We must now work to harness this generosity and use it for the benefit of wider society, including increasing participation in public life, strengthening our democracy and improving the living conditions of people across Uganda.”


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 Uganda.

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 Uganda.

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

  • the enabling environment in Uganda, 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 – 523 interviews in total.

About CivSource Africa

CivSource Africa identifies and supports the work of funding agencies and philanthropists in Africa providing grant management and advisory services on context and strategy.

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