It’s that time of the year to consider the ‘giving’ season and its meaning at a personal level. At a recent meeting with colleagues, the subject of generosity came up. A discussion of the true meaning of the word generosity emerged. A consensus of group participants was that the meaning of generosity, as placed into action, may include giving donations of dollars, physical products, time and empathetic behaviors. It was agreed that generosity does not have to be worn on one’s sleeve, thus anonymous gift–giving is for many the right choice.
Giving of money is probably the quickest method to implement charitable giving—just write the check. Of course, with all contributions, the recipient organization should be vetted. And clearly there is no fault to be found in assessing the tax benefits of giving. Donations of physical goods such as cars, clothing, food and toys are gladly accepted throughout the year and many charitable organizations provide a receipt for the value of such gifts for tax purposes. Time is a valuable and non-renewable resource, so for many donors, such giving has a higher value than dollars. Behavioral generosity may include being a friend in need, listening more than talking and providing genuine helpfulness when a need is recognized.
According to the Philanthropy Roundtable, (Zinsmeister, The Almanac of American Philanthropy, Wash. DC, 2016), 71% of all charitable giving is from living donors, 67% of households give an average of 4% of their annual income for an average donation of $2,650. It was found that 25% of all adults volunteer their time with an average of 139 hours annually.
A study conducted for the book, “Richer Than A Millionaire ~ A Pathway To True Prosperity,” revealed that, of those who enjoy volunteering, an increase in life satisfaction arises. Let’s consider a letter that we received from Annie asking about volunteering.
I am blessed in every way—a great family, a good-paying job that I enjoy, and good health for my entire family.
I’ve been thinking about volunteering for a nonprofit organization on a limited basis. My question about volunteering is, does helping others provide a more feel-good benefit to the volunteer than actual benefit to those being helped?
Volunteering most likely will do both. It will help the volunteer at an intrinsic level and help the recipient at a practical level. It largely depends on what you volunteer for and the extent to which you complete your tasks.
Working with others for the benefit of the less fortunate provides an opportunity for camaraderie, a feeling of accomplishment, and in all likelihood will enhance one’s self-esteem. Further, volunteering is a chance for hands-on networking and a good feature on one’s resume.
So yes, offering one’s time and talent is a choice that helps others and certainly yields potential benefits to the volunteer.
Of course, another form of generosity is that which is bestowed with anonymous charitable contributions. Indeed, generosity does come in many forms and appearances. As our research data demonstrates, charitable giving is positively correlated with life satisfaction. No matter the season, any form of giving is always an admirable practice.
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New York Times bestselling author William D. Danko and Richard J. Van Ness, wrote the research-based book, “Richer Than A Millionaire ~ A Pathway to True Prosperity,” which shows the way to wealth and happiness through embracing traditional values. Washington Post’s Michelle Singletary selected this book as, The Color of Money Book of the Month. The $9 billion Vanguard Charitable fund website features our book.
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