Greece, the country that created the name “philanthropy” now finds itself in the embarrassing position of being at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to charity, even during a crushing economic crisis.
With virtually no government safety nets, the country’s most vulnerable are being left on their own, buried under pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings.
Private charities and Non-Public Organizations (NGOs), along with the Greek Orthodox Church and a few groups, such as the Onassis Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, as well as the Hellenic Initiative have stepped into the breach trying to make up the difference.
The Greek Church runs soup kitchens, private groups offer homeless shelters – along with one operated by the City of Athens – and there are some volunteer groups gathering food for the poor but the index found not enough people are doing enough as people inured by the economic crisis and worried about their own survival can’t think of others as much.
The World Giving Index ratings put Greece in last among 135 countries surveyed, using categories such as donations to charities and aid organizations. Greece scored only 13 out of a maximum score of 100.
Greece was in 126th place as far as helping strangers is concerned, 130th place for donations to charities and aid organizations and 131st place in volunteering time category.
Through the course of a month 30% of the Greeks that were asked, stated that they help strangers, 6% that they give money to charity and only 4% said that they are involved with volunteer work.
The most willing to help were the Americans, followed by residents of Canada, Burma, New Zealand, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
Americans were first in the category concerning helping strangers, followed by residents of Qatar. The British along with the Burmese proportionally give the most money to relief organizations, while the first place in the volunteering category went to Turkmenistan.
The index is compiled annually by the British organization Charity Aid Foundation. The ranking is based on more than half a million interviews given to the Gallup polling company from 2005 onwards.
Overall, despite the slowdown in global economic growth, the research showed that the level of participation in all three forms of assistance has increased compared to 2012, with Greece a notable exception.
Austerity measures have worsened the country’s six-year recession, created record unemployment, put 20 percent of people into poverty and seen streets littered with beggars competing with professional scam artists in beseeching passersby for a handout.