Sri Lankans give generously to help the poor, the needy, the religious and their old schools, but fight shy on giving to civil society organisations, a preliminary study showed.
The Colombo-based Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA) and the UK-based School of Global Studies of the University of Sussex have begun to explore indigenous forms of charity, philanthropy and development in Sri Lanka.
By scoping patterns of giving within Colombo and around Sri Lanka’s global diaspora, the researchers are trying to understand the drivers and impacts of charitable and philanthropic activities on poverty alleviation, CEPA said in a statement.
The study is being conducted in Colombo and plans to probe Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Muslim and secular forms of giving – including Corporate Social Responsibility – in the form of cash, kind or time and assess their contribution towards achieving development goals.
Charitable giving is huge in Sri Lanka with a population of 20 million people, the researchers said. For two consecutive years, the island has ranked eighth in the Charity Aid Foundation'sWorld Giving Index, ahead of any other developing nation.
“The reasons are complex, but giving is central to the traditions of Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam that exist in the country,” the statement said.
“Our research is highlighting the multi-layered relationships forming between different kinds of social engagement, from traditional gift-giving through communal religious charity to corporate social responsibility."
However, the long-term potential of these practices – and where they may lead – remains an open question, the researchers noted.
Indigenous charity and philanthropy has the potential to transform development in Sri Lanka, the researchers said.
The study, which concludes next year, aims to produce policy briefs and good practice guides to support development-orientated charity and philanthropy activities in Sri Lanka, as well as encourage further dialogue and exchange between stakeholder groups.