Announcing the latest international fundraising metric:

Two all-beef patties + special sauce + lettuce + cheese + pickles + onions + a sesame seed bun =  1 Big Mac®

I kid you not.

The Big Mac® Philanthropy Index will officially launch On April 8th.  Compiled by the London-based international consultancy The Management Centre (=mc) and a 40 member team from a group of global charities, the new Index is designed to measure the relative philanthropy of countries around the world.

Before the arrival of this new sesame-seeded metric, comparative giving around the globe was measured by The World Giving Index published annually by the UK’s Charities Aid Foundation.

According to the current World Giving Index, Australia is the most generous nation in the world, based on interviews conducted in the calendar year 2011. It is followed by Ireland, Canada, New Zealand and the United States of America. The Netherlands ranks 6th and the UK 8th.

The manner in which the World Giving Index measures relative philanthropy has long been a source of debate. In addition to ‘money contributed’ the World Index includes two other elements: ‘the likelihood to volunteer’ and ‘the inclination to help a stranger’. Seems like many fundraisers, or at least the more pragmatic among them, are most interested in net income.

Enter The Big Mac® Philanthropy Index. Patterned after the 27 year old Big Mac® Index published annually by the Economist magazine, the Management Centre is tackling the complex issue of comparing different economies, Gross Domestic Product measures, cultures and attitudes to come up with a way to peg some standard donation values against the local price of a Big Mac® in each country’s currency.

For example, a donation of $4.37 in the U.S. is worth $4.37 (the average price of a U.S. Big Mac® as measured in US$). But in Canada one Big Mac® equivalent is worth $5.39 in US$ … in the UK the US dollar equivalent = $4.25 … Sweden = $7.62 … Russia $2.43 … China $2.57 … in the Euro Zone $4.88, and in Switzerland $7.12.

To get the new Index underway the always-innovative Bernard Ross and his team at The Management Centre, along with 40 volunteer fundraisers from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescents plus UNICEF International, have begun adding data.

The result of their work so far is a new way of looking at the philanthropy of nations by comparing a number of factors. Among them:

  • The average monthly gift of a regular donor to a ‘major’ charity — a national cancer agency or that country’s Red Cross/Red Crescent or UNICEF;
  • The price point at which a supporter becomes a ‘major’ donor among that country’s ‘top 10’ charities;
  • The size of the largest capital campaign run in that nation in the last three years.

Already the Index has data from countries as diverse as Austria and Argentina, Italy and India. The goal is to have 50 nations on the Index by the launch date of April 8th.

Just as fascinating to me is the fact that this is an experiment in crowdsourcing among the global fundraising community. An innovative way to get ‘real life’ data into the Index.

When I spoke with Bernard Ross he urged me to invite all Agitator readers to take part. You can engage and help do your part by going to the special Index Wiki created for participants, answer the questions and enter the fundraising data pertaining to your nation.

And when you participate, Bernard promises you’ll receive advance notice of the results and a full copy of the Index when finished.

He didn’t mention fries.


P.S. As I noted earlier, the Index will be launched on April 8th in San Diego and is being released at the same time as a new book titled Global Fundraising—how the world is changing the rules of philanthropy, authored by Bernard Ross and Penny Cagney.

I’m working on a review of the book right now and will post it shortly. If you want to get a jump on my review you can order the book in the US here and in the UK here.




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