Gotong Royong: The kindness of giving together

The world is witnessing more acts of kindness despite increasing acts of violence, anarchy, political, social, and economic instabilities, inequalities, and armed conflicts.
While people from all over the world are facing their own battles individually or collectively with COVID-19, economic slowdown and extreme climate events, more than 3 Billion people helped someone they didn’t know in 2021(as per a report by the CAF on global giving).

We, the people of the world, did better in the last two years by helping strangers, donating money and volunteering. It is always reassuring to know that there is solidarity for generosity in the most overwhelming circumstances across the globe.

The CAF report states that Indonesia is the most generous country in the world with the highest rates of donating and volunteering in the world. During 2021, more than 8 in 10 people donated money and more than 6 in 10 volunteered their time.

Gotong Royong

The spirit of social interaction in Indonesia is reflected through Gotong Royong – which means Mutual Assistance- a common social practice. Collectivism in its most basic form, Gotong Royong is an activity in a neighbourhood where residents help each other to solve a certain situation. Those who don’t want to participate are subject to a social punishment for being “selfish”. The examples of Gotong Royong could be as simple as a collective effort to rearrange the roof tiles of someone’s house, cleaning of a public place, or coming together to support someone with money, food and labour arranged for a wedding or any other social or religious ritual.

Gotong Royong helps in many ways in Indonesian society as it reduces individual burden of work, fosters social and emotional bonds, and establishes a voluntary attitude amongst all. Seen as an individual’s social responsibility, Gotong Royong helps building meaningful long-lasting friendships and trust. It also plays a role in conflict resolution amongst the community members. Indonesia’s philanthropic culture of collective actions has been recognised as its strengths. The younger generations in Indonesia also have significant interest to support charities and philanthropies by leveraging digital channels for safe and transparent donations.

Overall, Indonesia’s philanthropic ecosystem has constantly progressed with the Gotong Royong philosophy inspiring the work of individuals, charities, businesses, and government for a better society. Topping the Global Giving Index 5th year in a row looks to be just the beginning.

Selamat Siang!