Philanthropy: The Joy of Giving Explained

caring and giving

Philanthropy refers to charitable acts, usually on a large scale, such as monetary donations and/or volunteering time and effort for the welfare of other individuals or communities. Philanthropists offer significant contributions for the benefit of education, healthcare, religion, and the development of society, as a whole.

Philanthropy involves more than just charitable giving to worthy causes — it is an individual or organizational effort based on a desire to help improve human conditions. Grants and foundations have been established by both private individuals and business organizations for the purpose of philanthropy.

It’s true, though, that people do philanthropic works either for altruistic or tax purposes. It could also be a combination of both. Anyone can be a philanthropist, as long as they give of their (own or organization’s) money, time, and other resources. For now, let us take a closer look at altruistic philanthropy and why people give so much.

The Personal Benefits of Giving

Giving creates feelings of happiness. A study by Harvard Business School professors found that giving money to another improved happiness more than spending it on the self. The biological link is that when people make charitable donations, the pleasure regions of the brain are activated, particularly those that are associated with trust and social connection, bringing feelings of “warmth”. Scientists believe that altruistic behavior causes a release of endorphins, which brings positive emotions referred to as “helper’s high”.

Giving is healthy. Research has found links between generosity and better health. A 1999 study found that elderly people who consistently engaged in volunteer work were 44% less likely to die than non-volunteers within a 5-year span.

Research suggests that the act of giving alleviates stress, often associated with various health difficulties.

Giving fosters social connection and cooperation.  Several studies have suggested that giving to others is associated to the belief that generosity will be rewarded in the future, either by the receiver or by someone else.  Such motivation fosters a sense of trust and cooperation that enforces our connection to others.

Giving induces gratitude. Gifts can evoke feelings of gratefulness, whether you’re the giver or the receiver. This has to do with gifts as an expression of gratitude or with the opportunity to instill gratitude in others. Research has linked gratitude to health, happiness, and social connection.

The Research Project on Gratitude and Thankfulness studied college students among whom gratitude was cultivated. Results showed that there was an increase in the participants’ exercise, optimism, and general quality of life.

Giving is contagious. When you give, you don’t just benefit the direct receiver, but there is possibly a rippling of generosity throughout the community. A published study shows that when people observe a person’s generosity, it inspires them to behave generously in the future, to as much as 3 degrees forward.

Giving has likewise been linked oxytocin release, a pleasure hormone that induces feelings of euphoria, warmth, and connection to others. In laboratory studies, it was found that oxytocin triggers generosity and empathy, sensations that can last up to 120 minutes.

small gift box

Benefits of Philanthropy

Engaging in philanthropy can be quite beneficial to your physical and emotional well-being, experts believe. Philanthropists are overcome with a feeling of satisfaction from the knowledge that they have made contributions to a greater cause.

Studies have likewise shown that philanthropists have better self-esteem, are less likely to suffer from hypertension and depression, and tend to live longer than those who don’t practice giving. This is perhaps why a number of individuals have devoted a large part of their lives to philanthropy, even as far as including charitable donations into their estate planning document.

The benefits of philanthropy, however, do not end at the individual level but extend to business organizations, as well. Business organizations that support charitable giving benefit by improving their public image, creating a more meaningful brand awareness especially among their target market, and attracting fresh talent and investors.

Based on the personal benefits of giving, employees of companies that are active in philanthropy tend to be happier and more productive at work. This, in turn, is another advantage for the entire organization as satisfied and productive employees who feel connected with one another within the organization can positively impact the organization’s profit and growth.

Philanthropy and Taxes

Donations to charity are one of the top tax-saving opportunities utilized by both business organizations and high-net-worth individuals. Charitable contributions are tax-deductible, subject to mandated limitations. For this to be possible, the recipient charities should be qualified organizations as specified under the tax law. The US IRS allows for deductions of around 60% of an entity’s adjusted gross income or AGI.

Philanthropy refers to charitable contributions or other altruistic efforts that benefit particular sectors or society, in general. Philanthropy can involve monetary donations, volunteering of time, effort, or other resources in the name of altruism. Whether philanthropy is done on an individual or organizational level, the benefits of philanthropy encompass both the personal and commercial.