The Science behind Charitable Giving…And Tis the Season to Be Altruistic

We ❤️ #givingtuesday #quote #inspiration

The theatrics of election campaigning, the political polarization, the apprehension of election results, the discussion of politics at family Thanksgiving dinner, the frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deal scrabbling for gift ideas has come and gone-sigh!

But let’s not forget in our to-do list for the week on the heels of our shopping sprees a day with an altruistic twist -#GivingTuesday. Giving Tuesday is celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving and kicks off the season of charitable giving. This year November 29, 2016, is a global day of charitable giving. Since its inaugural year in 2012, Giving Tuesday marks an awareness drive and aspires people to support charitable giving and philanthropy using the social media platform. Many charities, nonprofit organizations, business, communities make a comprehensive, global effort to promote altruistic giving and encourage donors to donate on this day and through the holiday season. Giving Tuesday is beyond a day and has become a social movement/campaign for social causes and this year a catchy trend is to shoot an “#Unselfie” picture profile to share via social media that shows why you give to charitable organizations. So what is its impact and how much do we give?

In 2014, American donors gave $258.51 billion to charitable organizations, accounting for more than 70% of all philanthropic dollars in the U.S. (Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy 2015).The USA ranks second in the most 2016 CAF World Giving Index which ranks countries in the world according to how charitable they are. The report also shares that “around three quarters (73%) of Americans helped a stranger in this year’s Index” and “the proportion of Americans volunteering their time has increased slightly from 44% last year to 46% this year”. This reinforces that we are a country of givers. What makes us so?

An excellent resource complies the science of Behavior And Charitable Giving by @Ideas42. It sheds light on what drives us to give, demographics of who gives, at what levels of giving, mechanism and metrics. It is no surprise that “emotions” play an important part and science backs that with the “warm-glow”, a positive uplifting feeling, a sense of satisfaction that makes you happy and happy people give more.  A simple pleasure …a neuronal boost in the brain activity.

The report also sheds light on myriad of factors that encourage or hinder individuals to charitable giving such as social norms; motivation by religious tenants; personalization and/or familiarity with recipient; participation in group efforts; matching incentives for donations; how we are perceived by others as charitable donors; support for others that have similar experiences in life as our own, reciprocation to others as gifts; incentives for giving such as taxation breaks or simply for “goodness” sake. Additionally it discusses avoidance for charity is hard to do when solicited by personal contact. Items that prevent or hinder such efforts include procrastination to follow through; lack of transparency which makes it hard to assess information to decide who to donate to and may hold off contributions; inconvenience and hassle factors, and social pressures to donating big amounts. It further provides information on trends/survey data on Charitable Giving.

Wow! What a thorough review of resources that explains factors and behaviors of philanthropic giving and provides insights to improve charitable giving.  Whatever social or personal causes such as hunger, poverty, education, health care, cure for diseases, animal rescue, clean water, or the environment as causes you wish to support; for whoever you wish to help-veterans, underprivileged, the impoverished, minorities, children, orphans, in whichever way you can donate or provide-at a personal level, at a community level, national or global level-it is essential we contribute to improve the lives of all citizens of the world.

So be for social good, for selfish reasons, pure or impure altruism, we just have to motivate ourselves and others to give and to continue to do so. Give wisely and check out for effective charities and wide choices.

Whatsoever you can give –donate monetary contributions, give your time, share resources to help a person, donate goods, motivate others to donate; teach your kids about giving, spread awareness –However often you can participate in such altruistic efforts – monthly, automatic, yearly, seasonally or on a whim-ever altruistic contribution you make matters. We all can make a difference in our world. It’s just a click away.

Photo Credit:  We ❤ #givingtuesday #quote #inspiration  by Stewardship – Transforming Generosity CC BY 2.0



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