5 Ways Giving to Charity Will Benefit You

January 9, 2014 at 5:16 PM Leave a comment

Most people think of donating to charity as something that mostly benefits the recipient of the gift. The fact is that donating has real benefits for the giver as well. These benefits are financial, emotional, spiritual and even physical. Giving to charity promotes feelings of happiness and well-being, can help you cope with personal trauma, can broaden your awareness of social justice issues – and much more.

Giving to Charity Is Good for Your Health and Happiness

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Studies have shown that giving to charity is good for your mental and physical health, happiness and feelings of self-esteem. A study conducted at the National Institutes of Health in 2006 found that giving to charity stimulates the parts of the brain associated with trust, social connection and pleasure, which explains the feelings of happiness we often experience when helping others.

A study conducted in 2008 by Michael Norton of the Harvard Business School found that study participants experienced greater happiness as a result of giving money to another person than they did as a result of spending a comparable sum on themselves. The results held true even when participants believed that they’d be happier spending the money selfishly. A similar study by Sonja Lyubomirsky, psychology professor for the University of California Riverside, in which participants were asked to perform acts of kindness, produced comparable results.

Charitable giving also has a measurable positive effect on your health. Stony Brook University professor Stephen Post has found that charitable giving has health benefits for people with chronic illness, like multiple sclerosis or HIV. A University of California Berkeley study in 1999 found that volunteering can reduce an elderly person’s chance of dying over a given five-year period by 44 percent. Similar studies have found that just providing social and emotional support to others can help you live a longer and healthier life.

You Can Take a Tax Deduction

Tax deductions are one of the most well-known benefits of charitable giving, and it’s no doubt that they can be a significant financial incentive to give. In addition to deducting the contribution itself, you can also deduct any travel or parking costs, fees and other expenses that you incurred in the process of making your donation. Remember that you need documentation to backup your tax-deductible contributions — the IRS requires receipts for gifts of $250 or greater. If you donate a non-cash item worth more than $500, you will need to submit a Form 8283 to claim your deduction.

Charitable Giving Can Deepen Your Spiritual Life

Selflessness and charity are central to any number of spiritual disciplines. No matter what your religious or spiritual beliefs, giving to others can deepen and enhance them. A deep sense of contentment and peace can result from acting in line with your spiritual beliefs.

Charity Is a Way to Cope with Personal Trauma

Plenty of people give to charities because they have been personally affected by the issue in question. Donating to a charity to support a cause that has personally affected you is a great way to help yourself cope. For example, if you’ve lost a loved one to cancer, donating to a charity that funds research toward treatments for cancer can bring closure and peace that comes with feeling your actions may save others from similar anguish.

Donating Increases Your Awareness of Social Justice Issues

Most people like to research a charity before deciding to donate. You should always make sure that an organization is legitimate and that you personally care about what they’re doing before you decide to give them your hard-earned  money. Learning more about the issues associated with various charities can give you new ideas, new perspectives and new opinions on subjects of social justice about which you previously may have known little or nothing. As a result, you’ll be in a better position to educate others on these issues even as you work to bring about change.

Giving to charity has measurable benefits for everyone involved, especially the giver. Studies have shown that giving to charity and helping others can increase your happiness and support good health. Donating to a charity of your choice can also benefit you spiritually and emotionally, and make you a more informed person.

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