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Philanthropy
December 2, 2021

The Health Benefits of Charitable Giving

Post By:
Abigail Axelrod-Wunderman
Founder and Chief Insight Officer
Useful Views Philanthropy
Guest Contributor:

It has been said that philanthropy starts at home, or at least, often around those with whom we are closest. When family units (including businesses) find ways to give back to the community, it creates a culture of generosity that members take throughout life. 

People give for several reasons. They give because the mission of an organization resonates with them, perhaps even on a personal level. They give because they trust the good work an organization does or the work they will do with the allocated resources. Then, there are many people who give because they see others giving. Some give for the tax benefits or just because something interesting has caught their eye. 

Of course, donors also give because they expect to see an impact in the community and want to be part of that positive community change. Contributing to social and environmental development makes individuals feel a part of something greater than themselves. And this can lead to significant health benefits.

Yes you read that right: research shows giving is good for your health! 

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Studies have shown that generosity increases life quality, with 23% more givers reporting higher satisfaction in their daily lives, better relationships, and more fulfillment in their careers. The benefits do not end there, either.

Research has shown volunteering helps decrease stress levels, reducing your risk of depression and anxiety. The human body has a physiological response to giving, stimulating a portion of the brain called the mesolimbic pathway, which triggers gratification throughout the body—giving causes the body to release feel-good hormones like dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins into your body. This “happiness hormones” cocktail leads to higher self-esteem, better sleep, lower blood pressure, and even increased chronic pain management.

So how can you get a sip of this “happiness” cocktail? There are several ways. It’s important to remember that giving comes in many forms, and businesses and individuals do not always have to give money to a charity to make a difference. Consider a broader scope of generosity.

Ways to be generous

Influence

In a world increasingly governed by social media, influence can be an effective tool to get others involved. Look at what some major corporations and individuals have done:

  • Publix Super Markets gives money and influential campaigning to help the hunger crisis and support families in need.
  • Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) is constantly sponsoring events in the area and using its significant state presence to influence partnerships across its five focus areas.
  • Or pro golfers like Brooks Koepka, who always gives publicly at his golf tournaments to encourage others to follow suit.

While not every individual wants to be known for their philanthropy, celebrities, and businesses who give publicly help increase awareness about a particular cause or fund. Research shows that when others see someone donate, they are more inclined to donate. Social media platforms are a great way to get the word out, and there is always the tried-and-true word of mouth. People are more likely to join a cause or organization if they hear about it from a trusted friend, business, or peer.

Time

The giving of your time is just as impactful as giving your money. In a previous blog article, I wrote about all the holiday toy and food drives happening around Palm Beach County and ways the family could donate their time to different holiday events. These days almost anyone can volunteer, regardless of age, ability, or knowledge of the nonprofit sector. If you are interested in learning about all the different ways you could volunteer your time, check out this article. Likewise, take some time to find local shelters and food banks, or reach out to your Community Foundation to ask about mentorship programs near you or organizations that help the elderly. Thanks to COVID-19, now more than ever, nonprofits need people’s time.

There are even ways for people to donate their skills for a good cause. Interacting with others could also increase your world views and perhaps even broaden your business opportunities. It will also keep you and your business engaged with your community, expanding your social circles, and developing or honing networking skills. Plus, there is nothing better than meeting like-minded, positive people who also give their time - It looks like you just made a new best friend!

Money

Of course, there are many ways to give monetarily, whether online or with a check. Some financial entities even offer advice to individuals, families, and businesses about smarter ways to give. Companies or individuals often open a foundation or donor-advised fund to increase their philanthropic efficiency and effectiveness. And for those who want to give in a more collaborative way, giving circles are becoming increasingly popular. The Daily Drip is a sponsor of Impact the Palm Beaches, an all-women’s giving circle, to which I am also a member and board member. Giving circles allow a group of people to pool their money together and donate a combined, perhaps more considerable sum to a chosen organization to make a more significant impact in the community.

Ways to get involved

In this technological age, you can give straight from your computer or device. There are certainly a multitude of online giving platforms or phone apps, which allow businesses and individuals to contribute money based on how much they walk or run, how many questions they answer correctly, or how many tabs they open online. And even without the internet, someone can always donate food, clothes, toys, time, influence, and more.

Incorporating any of these methods of giving will yield countless benefits for a community, a business, and for you! And while there is no shortage of need for generosity, you can take extra comfort in the added physical and emotional kickback as well!