Over the past few weeks I reviewed information about how charitable behavior is associated to wellness (Marsh & Suttie, 2015, Moffett, 2019, Ramsey, n.d, Robertson, 2015, and Sanders & Tamma, 2015). The concept of “feeling good about giving” is a frequent topic across the financial spectrum, nonprofit organizations, education literature, and wellness organizations. The “feel good” aspect of giving is not far-reaching or revolutionary. The contribution to personal wellness however does extend to psychological, spiritual, and emotional well-being.
Giving enhances sense of well-being in many ways, some of which are:
- Helping others can lead to a sense of purpose
- Taking actions in line with your beliefs can lead to inner peace
- Donating can activate the pleasure centers of the brain
- Contributing to a cause can promote generosity among others
- Giving to a worthy cause can improve life satisfaction
- Aiding a community program can promote social well-being at a local level
A 2009 study by Harvard Business School doctoral candidate Lalin Anik, Professor Michael I. Norton, and coauthors titled “Feeling Good about Giving: The Benefits (and Costs) of Self-Interested Charitable Behavior,” explores the ways in which charitable behavior can lead to benefits for the giver. Their preliminary research suggests that advertising the emotional benefits of prosocial behavior may leave these benefits intact and might even encourage individuals to give more.
A few years ago, my husband and I decided we would like to make a monthly donation to organizations that align with our personal values and areas of interest. Our primary motivation was not for a tax break or public recognition. We are fortunate to be able to help proven organizations making an impact. We feel that our giving is an expression of gratitude to those who are working on behalf of the betterment of others. Some of the organizations we support are:
- Wounded Warriors
- Big Cat Rescue
- Humane Society of Tampa Bay
- Owls Nest Sanctuary
- Feeding Tampa Bay
- Navy Seal Foundation
- Save the Children
- Instruments of Change
The organizations above have all shared stories of their work with us. One example of the impact these organizations make on the lives of others is the story of Louis Torres. He started with Instruments of Change in 5th grade; excelled in middle and high school and is now at University of South Florida on a music scholarship.
Wrapping Up & Moving Forward
In many ways it is better to give than receive. Giving is good…time, money, possessions…it is empowering to know that you are helping others. Giving can also be beneficial to your emotional, social, psychological, and yes, financial wellbeing. We find that giving to our selected nonprofit organizations (partial list above) is rewarding as we support those in need AND we support the work of those running the organizations.
McCoy (n.d.) acknowledges the multiple benefits of giving.
“Whether you’re interested in the tax benefits or have altruistic motives – or a little of both – you can end up getting back a lot more than you give when you donate valuable items, cold hard cash, or even your time to your favorite causes. In fact, the emotional, social, psychological, and financial benefits of charitable giving often outweigh the satisfaction of splurging on yourself or your family.”
Have you experienced the benefits of charitable giving in your own life?
Thanks for reading.