Despite a tough economic climate, South Africans bucked a global trend of giving less to become more charitable in 2016, according to a report by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF).
The CAF World Giving Index 2017 was published this week and sets out how much time, money and help the citizens of 139 countries gave to charity in 2016.
According to its authors, the aim of the report is to provide "insight into the scope and nature of giving around the world" to help strengthen global civic society.
CAF rated South Africa the 24th most charitable country in the world, and the 7th most charitable country in Africa.
South Africans were rated as very charitable in the categories of 'helping a stranger' and 'volunteering time', but relatively weak in that of 'donating money'.
The scores of these three categories were combined to produce an overall ranking.
The study's authors noted that South Africa's score was higher than its 2015 score.
'Volunteer in whatever way possible'
Gill Bates, the chief executive of CAF Southern Africa, said this showed that in trying times, South Africans still tried to help where they could.
"Most South Africans are not in the position to give financially," she told Fin24. "However, we, as a country in the main, are acutely aware of the needs of our citizens, and many people actively give what they can and donate their time to volunteer in whatever way possible."
CAF found that, overall, African countries were rated higher in 2016 than in 2015.
"During 2016, every continent scored lower than the previous year, with the exception of Africa which saw no change," stated the study's authors.
"Not only is Africa the only continent which did not see a decline in its one year score, but it has also recorded a 2016 score higher than its five year average - the only continent to achieve this."
Bates said that while the reasons behind Africa's good showing warrant further investigation, it is a positive sign for the strength of African civic society.
"There is a new surge of energy on the continent and in South Africa, within the philanthropy, development and corporate social investment space, which is exciting to see," she said.
More than money
Bates said the CAF Index plays an important role in shining a spotlight on global philanthropy, and how it is about more than donating money.
"While many people think that meaningful giving needs to come from big corporations, this is certainly not the case," she said. "Every single person can give in some way, every day. Through harnessing the power of giving and volunteering on an individual level, we can develop a thriving civil society across the globe."
Being charitable helps both the giver and the person or group receiving aid, she added.
To produce the report CAF, a charity working to make giving more effective, relied on the answers of a major global poll conducted by Gallup in 2016.
Gallup interviewed 146 000 people by telephone or in face-to-face meetings as part of its World Poll initiative.
The most charitable country was found to be Myanmar, followed by Indonesia and Kenya.
The least charitable was Yemen, which scored poorly in all three categories.