In the spirit of celebrating the ICF Foundation’s #GivingTuesday efforts, we’d like to share how charitable giving not only benefits the organization you give to, but it also creates a multitude of benefits to, the giver. Here are three ways that charitable giving can positively impact your life:
1) Make You Feel Happier and Allow You to Experience More Pleasure
You’ve heard the saying, “It’s better to give than receive;” while the adage may be cliché, the saying rings true. Science has shown that we do feel better when we give.
In a series of experiments conducted by Elizabeth Dunn, Ph.D., and her colleagues at the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School, people who spent as little as $5 on someone else over the course of a day were happier at the end of that day compared with people who were asked to spend $5 on themselves.
In another study at the University of Oregon, scientists found that the brain’s pleasure centers light up when giving rather than receiving. The study consisted of 19 women who were given $100 and had a choice of whether to give an amount of it to a local food bank or keep the money—they could also choose how much money to give or keep. The researchers used brain imaging technology and MRIs to see the brain’s pleasure centers during these choices. The results showed that the more money the women gave, the more pleasure centers lit up.
2) Reduce Stress and Lower Blood Pressure
Being generous can reduce stress. Two professors from Queensland University found that being stingy can cause higher blood pressure and more stress. Their study analyzed the emotional reactions people have when giving and compromising.
Volunteers were asked to play a bargaining game in which two players must decide how to divide a sum of money. Player one proposes how to divide the money and player two must accept or reject the offer. If player two rejects the offer, neither player receives any money.
“We found low offers, typically below 40 percent of the total, increased [Heart Rate Variability] activity and stress levels in both the proposer and responder,” explains study author Uwe Dulleck.
Researchers concluded this feeling of “guilt” when treating someone unfairly, or having been treated unfairly themselves, raises the blood pressure and causes stress. But being fair, and being treated fairly, can cause people to experience less stress and lower blood pressure.
3) Improve Personal Money Management
Besides the above health benefits, giving money can also help you put a better budget together, something that anyone—no matter their wealth—can improve on. Giving on a regular basis can cause you to look at your own finances and analyze them more often than if you didn’t give on the regular.
Giving can also make you feel wealthier.
In a Forbes article, authors Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton explained how people spend their money matters more than how much they spend. In their book, Happy Money: The Science of Spending, Dunn and Norton found that those who donated to charity, regardless of their income level, reported feeling wealthier. The act of donating money instills the feeling that you have enough money to give it away. In fact, giving had the same impact on happiness as the doubling of income! Additionally, Dunn and Norton reported that individuals who donated money reported better health as well.
Charitable giving is also tax deductible in many countries around the world, so you can give and get, too.
Ways to Give
Giving to others can come in many different forms. Many of ICF’s coaches give of their time , which offers its own personal benefits. According to the 2016 ICF Global Coaching Study, 84 percent of coach practitioners believe a moderate or large extent that coaching can influence social change. Consider using your coaching skills to improve the world around you. The ICF Foundation can help connect you to different opportunities if you’re not sure where or how to begin.
And, if you are feeling generous, consider donating to ICF Foundation. The ICF Foundation’s mission is to connect and equip professional coaches and organizations to accelerate and amplify impact on social progress through coaching. On November 27, the ICF Foundation will celebrate #GivingTuesday.