Charity Support, Advice, Impact Measurement, Philanthropy Impact – NPC

The glow of giving: why do we give?

By Trevor Pears 6 February 2013

On first view, this seems a very simple question. Surely we give because we are moved to do so by a specific issue?  Surely we are inspired to take a form of action that allows us to do something positive about that issue, whether that be taking a campaign action, volunteering, or dipping into our pockets to make a donation?

All true, but fundraisers have long recognised the powerful role that enlightened self interest plays in how we make giving decisions. This is nothing to be ashamed of; one of the joys of giving is that it delivers a personal benefit as well as supporting causes we care about.  In fact, a huge body of research has been undertaken in the US around the fact that giving to others makes us feel good; something the Give More team have thought long and hard about.

Our objective is simple– to encourage as many people as possible to pledge to give more time, money or energy to the causes they care about. Enlightened self interest is a hugely important aspect of encouraging people to engage with the campaign and make their own pledge, as is lowering the barriers for getting people to give, or contemplate giving more.

The Give Guide brings these things together as an online portal providing a quick and simple way of finding new and different ways to give. To support its launch, research we commissioned our own research to find out more about the tangible personal benefits of giving – in short, whether giving is good for us?

The research findings support the growing body of evidence that doing good, in its many forms, can boost your health and wellbeing. 77% of people we surveyed donated to charity last year, with those who did reporting higher levels of optimism about the forthcoming year. 60% of those who gave said they felt more hopeful about the year ahead, whilst 76% reported that donating their time or money to help meet the needs of their communities made them feel good.

This concept is supported by Dr David Hamilton, author of Why Kindness is Good for You, who says:

‘The act of doing something for another person in any capacity has health benefits. Simply smiling at someone in the street can give you a real boost. And the side-effects can be physically beneficial too – there is evidence that being kind helps slow down the ageing process and improves the health of our hearts. So although we should never be kind for selfish reasons, the benefits for us and others mean there’s absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t give a little more.’

Previous campaigns which have focused on making giving easier and more cost effective have worked to a certain extent, as evidenced by the impact of Gift Aid.

Perhaps, however, it’s just as important to raise awareness of the simple pleasures and benefits of giving as well. After all, something which makes us feel better about ourselves is always an extremely appealing and powerful proposition.