Charitable Giving

The positive effects of giving on well-being

If you are devoted to giving, you won’t be surprised to hear of the positive effects on your health, happiness and productivity. Well-being is more than just feeling good about ourselves — it comes from a powerful sense of connection to others, empathy, compassion and of our own centeredness.

A study supported by the National Institute of Aging and the National Science Foundation found that MRI brain scans indicate charitable giving stimulates the brain’s pleasure and reward centers. Humans, it seems, are built to be generous.

When you give you get back.

Giving promotes a sense of trust and cooperation that strengthens our bonds with others and, according to research published in the journal PNAS, has shown that having positive social connections is integral to good mental and physical health.

Basically, when you give to others, your generosity is likely to be returned. “The more extensive the reciprocal altruism born of social connection…the greater the advance toward health, wealth and happiness” writes University of Chicago neuroscience professor John Cacioppo in his book Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection. What this means is that when we give to others, not only do they feel closer to us, but we feel closer to them, as well.

And it gets better! Reciprocation isn’t the only feeling that fuels our drive to give. Here are a few more ways to increase your well-being through giving.

Can you volunteer your way to health?

Recent research says yes. Studies of people who volunteer have shown they have better psychological and mental health with increased longevity. In fact, some say the health benefits of volunteering can be greater than taking up exercise or attending religious services.

Promoting your cause can also promote your career.

Why not top off your resume by highlighting your giving? Research from LinkedIn has found employers respond more often to candidates who include the causes and charities they support in the Volunteer & Causes section of their profile. Prospective employers get insight into your personality and your commitment to social causes. It’s a win-win for you and the employer, so be sure to highlight the charities you support.

Giving is also good business.

Maybe your business could start making charitable donations, hosting charitable functions and promoting employee volunteer days. It’s a great way to show potential customers, investors and existing and potential employees what the company stands for. In fact, The Journal of Business Ethics finds employees are happier when they have the opportunity to make a difference in the community by volunteering with charities their companies support.

Whether it’s sponsoring a stretch of highway or matching charitable contributions from employees, your charitable activities can help your business while you help make the world a better place.

 As the saying goes, money can’t buy happiness — but maybe donating it and your time to others really can.

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