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Benefits of Giving

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It goes without saying that whenever the topic of fundraising is addressed, the discussion is focused on the nonprofit community. Typically these articles will cover all the most effective and common fundraising techniques, while offering support and guidance for nonprofit leaders seeking to be more efficient when generating revenue to achieve their mission.

But I suggest that the concept of fundraising can be approached from a completely different perspective.

I think we should spend some time seeing fundraising through the experiences of the giver.  When development professionals cultivate donors, they begin with an explanation of the nonprofit’s vision. Then they make a compelling, perhaps even emotional, case for the individual to donate. They talk about impact, they emphasize the effect the nonprofit has on the community it serves, and they tug at the heart strings a bit when they describe the accomplishments of the group.  They encourage donors to give generously to a great and worthy cause.

Nonprofit organizations benefit from fundraising initiatives – but the givers benefit as well!

While the strategy is to generate enthusiasm and passion for the cause with an eye on how the nonprofit will gain from the interaction, we might be overlooking the extraordinary advantages enjoyed by those who are writing the checks or clicking online or even just investing their time in a charity.

Research studies indicate over and over again that significant, tangible results are experienced just by the act of giving.  In “Wanna Give? This is Your Brain on a Helper’s High,” the Cleveland Clinic writes, “We all know that giving helps others…but studies show that giving is also good for the giver- boosting physical and mental health.”

This study, and many others that support the same results, indicate that there are many positive attributes that occur when you give to others. The most talked about measurable observations include lower blood pressure, less depression, and less stress. As a result of this, there are important intangible outcomes, such as increased self-esteem which leads to greater happiness and a longer life.

No matter how you choose to give, or how much you choose to give, the upshot is pretty much the same. You can expect to feel really good. In the ‘International Journal of Psychophysiology,’ people who gave social support to others not only had lower blood pressure, but the supportive interaction also helped people recovering from coronary related events.  A University of California study definitely showed that people 55 years and older who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44% less likely to die over a five year period than those who did not volunteer.   

Your mental outlook is influenced by your generosity

Even without scientific proof to backup these claims, many of you have experienced that rush of joy yourself. This happens when you are watching someone open a gift you have purchased, knowing how pleased they will be. That same fulfillment comes with participating in a charity auction, making a pledge, buying a box of Girl Scout cookies or delivering Meals on Wheels to someone who is homebound.  What’s happening here is the release of “feel good” chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin dopamine and oxytocin, which produce a feeling called ‘helper’s high.’

So the next time you are asked to give –of your time or finances –consider the valuable role you are playing as a contributor to the organization.  But then stop and think for a minute about the additional valuable role that giving itself is having on your own good health and well-being!