It isn’t news that giving to charity also includes some perks for the giver. After all, acting on the motivation to help others — regardless of the method — has always included that sparkling kickback known as “feeling good about yourself.” However, the perks of generosity can go far beyond a fleeting emotional high to everything from actual tangible rewards to real health benefits. No matter where you like to give, it seems that doing so is in your best interest. Here is a look at a handful of the many ways that charitable giving is not just a gift to others but a gift to yourself.
While sometimes it’s just a mug or other piece of branded swag that finds its way back to you after a donation, many charities have relationships with other entities who provide them with pretty substantial incentive packages. When you donate to some organizations, you can get a free vacation. Others provide you with packages that include discounts at elite hotels and restaurants, and while you may not donate money, goods or services with any sort of quid pro quo mindset, being rewarded for your generosity is still a nice bonus, and it’s one that more and more charities are making the norm.
Meaning and Purpose
Feeling good is always nice, but feeling good because you experience a sense of meaning and purpose about your own life and your ability to enact positive change in the world around you is much nicer. Donating to charity correlates strongly with feeling a sense of purpose in one’s life, and people who believe their lives are meaningful enjoy much more satisfying relationships, work and health throughout their lifetimes.
Improved Social Networks
When you donate your time or money to a charity or cause, you expand your social network to include others who are doing likewise, as well as those who are in need. Volunteering provides you the opportunity to encounter people you may have never come across in your day-to-day life. Building your social network to include those whose goals and interests align with your own, as well as those whose situation necessitates charity of some kind can provide a healthy realism and levity in relation to what you wish to transpire in the world around you. It is also a great way to expand your view and experience of the world.
In almost every instance of giving to a charity, some community’s needs are addressed and met. Whether an organization is tackling child hunger, pollution, illiteracy, homelessness, animal rights, human trafficking or social justice, your dollars and time donated work to create real change. Communities are improved when those who are in need have access to those goods and services that help their quality of life. Raising the standard of living of those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder raises the standard of living for all. If you are concerned about your community, your neighborhood or the world your children will inherit in the future, giving to those organizations that are invested in bringing positive change is one way to satisfy your own desires to live in a safe and peaceful world.
Positive Role Modeling
When you give of yourself and your resources to help others, you demonstrate to your circle of friends, family and acquaintances that our interdependence is real and that it requires nurturance. Your actions can motivate others to behave in a similar fashion, creating a ripple effect where giving might become more commonplace.
When it comes to maintaining and enjoying better physical and mental health, giving to charity is a great help. Three aspects of giving, namely altruism, compassion and interconnectedness, have all been connected to better health by a host of researchers and studies. If you want to get the equivalent of a good dose of exercise, giving of your time and resources is a sure bet.
No matter what your motivation to give, doing so has benefits that far outshine the tax breaks and general good feelings that giving elicits. From strengthening and improving communities to improving physical health, giving of ourselves and our resources is just as much a benefit to the giver as it is to the recipient.
About the Author: Genevieve Adams is a contributing writer who works for a non-profit that offers housing assistance to families in need.