Do good, feel better: Philanthropy through the lens of well-being

Philanthropy means “love of humanity”—and, according to some, “philanthropy” includes acts that benefit both the giver and the receiver. This is surprising to some people who have been taught “it’s better to give than to receive.”

Somehow we have popularized the idea that giving should “hurt.” But that is not what the research says. Consider just a few examples:

–Research on the connection between volunteering and hypertension revealed that four hours of volunteering a week reduced the risk of high blood pressure–by 40%–in adults over 50.

–Another study indicates that giving reduces cortisol levels.

–Yet another study found a link between unselfishness and a lower risk of early death because “helping others” reduces stress-related mortality.

–Research has linked doing something good for someone else to an increase in endorphins.

–An altruistic attitude in the workplace makes you more productive and less likely to quit.

–Doing good and being grateful helps you sleep better at night.

–People who do just one good thing a week for someone else actually become happier over time.

When people were asked to reflect about all the ways they do good (giving to charity, volunteering, serving on boards, donating canned goods, purchasing products that support a cause, celebrating at community events, sharing with others, and so on), 92% reported that they felt better about themselves.

Even just thinking about what you’ve given others–and not only just being grateful for what you’ve received–is a huge motivator to do good things for others, over and over again.

The “do good feel good” benefits of philanthropy is just one of the many reasons that so many individuals and families work with the community foundation. If you’ve already established a donor-advised or other type of fund with the community foundation, we look forward to continuing to help you fulfill your charitable wishes to improve the lives of others. If you’ve not yet established a fund at the community foundation, we look forward to working with you to make a difference in the causes you care about.