By Jay Robertson
According to a report recently released by Atlas of Giving1, after a stellar year of charitable donations in 2014, the outlook for this year is less than robust. In fact, U.S.-based giving could decrease by as much as 3.2% for a variety of reasons—including rising interest rates, a possible stock market correction, and continuing decline in employment compensation. But just because certain economic factors may have an impact on giving, this doesn’t mean that you should put off your own charitable efforts. You might be surprised to learn that, ultimately, it might be you who reaps some of the best rewards of your donation. Here are nine positive effects of giving to charity.
1. Experience More Pleasure
In research conducted by the National Institutes of Health2, participants who chose to donate a portion of $100 they were provided enjoyed activated pleasure centers in the brain. Although this experiment was controlled and scientific, it did show that donating money simply makes you feel better, which is something we can all benefit from.
2. Help Others in Need
We don’t live in a perfect world, and there’s never going to be a perfect time to give—but there are always people out there in need of help. Whether interest rates are rising, the economy is in the doldrums, or even if you’re experiencing financial difficulties of your own, the reality is that when you donate your money, you help others who need it.
3. Get a Tax Deduction
If you give to an IRS-approved charity, you can write off donations on your tax return. Certain restrictions do apply, though. To learn more about them, along with whether or not a particular charity has IRS approval, check the IRS website or The Life You Can Save’s fact sheet about tax deductibility. Donating your cash is a great way to reduce the amount of money you send off to Uncle Sam, and for a good cause, to boot.
4. Bring More Meaning to Your Life
When you donate money to charity, you create opportunities to meet new people who believe in the same causes that inspire you. That, and making a real impact on those causes, can infuse your everyday life with more meaning. If you’ve been stuck in a rut, whether personally or professionally, sometimes the simple act of donating cash can do the trick and reinvigorate your life.
5. Promote Generosity in Your Children
When your kids see you donating money, they’re much more likely to adopt a giving mindset as they grow up. I write from personal experience. I’ve donated money to a variety of charities over the years and have always made sure to inform my eight-year-old son of my efforts. Last Christmas, when he and I were shopping at a mall, he spotted a kiosk for a charity and rather than spending some of his allotted money on Christmas gifts, he asked if we could sponsor a hungry child overseas. We signed up then and there. Do the same with your kids and you might see similar results.
6. Motivate Friends and Family
When you let your friends and family know of your charitable donations, they may find themselves more motivated to undertake their own efforts to give. It takes a village to address issues such as world poverty, scientific advancement, and early childhood education. Stoking passions in the folks around you is a very positive and tangible effect of your own giving.
7. Realize that Every Little Bit Helps
You don’t need $10,000 to make a difference in someone’s life. In developing countries, even just a few U.S. dollars could result in a week’s worth of meals for a starving child, much-needed medical attention, and even improved schooling. Don’t just think of your cash donation from an American economic perspective. Often that money can go a lot further elsewhere in the world.
8. Improve Personal Money Management
If you set a scheduled $100 donation each month for a particular charity, that can motivate you to be more attentive to your own finances in an effort to ensure you don’t default or fall behind in your monthly donations. Anything that gets you to pay closer attention to your bank account is a good thing—especially when it helps those in need.
9. Give, If You Can’t Volunteer
This might not necessarily be a positive effect of charitable giving, but if you’re too busy to volunteer or otherwise donate your time, giving money is the perfect workaround. Never think that you can’t improve someone’s life or the world itself if your personal or professional schedule won’t allow the time. Writing out a check is a simple way to show you’re willing to help others in any way you can.
If you’re not sure where to donate your cash, check out The Life You Can Save’s list of recommended charities. With a focus on developing countries and those living in extreme poverty, The Life You Can Save recommends some of the best charities to send your money to in order to have the most impact. Plus, almost all of The Life You Can Save’s recommended charities are eligible for personal tax deductions. Alternatively, you can make a donation directly to The Life You Can Save, which helps its efforts to improve the lives of those in need. Understanding the positive effects of donating money to charity is important—just make sure you have the right people in your corner as you get started.
Do you know of any other positive effects of donating money to charity?