If you are like me, the end of the year marks the time I donate to charities. I have made it a family tradition to give to various organizations in honor and remembrance of deceased loved-ones. It makes me feel good to remember. It makes me feel good to give.
I equate charitable donations to hugs. Is the donor giving or receiving? Both – it's a cycle. Once locked in a hug, can you tell who initiated the hug? No – both participants give and receive the benefits of the connection and affection being shared.
We are a nation of givers. America is the #1 most giving nation in the world as ranked by the World Giving Index in 2013. Sixty two percent of Americans donate money to charity. Ninety five percent of American households give to charity, donating an average of $2,974 each year.
Of the $300 billion that Americans donate to charity annually, Virginia alone contributes $4.2 billion, making our state the 10th most charitable state in the union. More than 29% of Virginians volunteer their time to help others – also higher than the national average.
Why do we do this? Certainly people might reach into their pocket once or even twice simply because they're told to, or to rid themselves of the telemarketer on the other end of the line. But habitual giving comes from a deeper need and emotion. We get more than we receive when we help others. It is an act that yields such personal satisfaction that we are motivated and compelled to continue.
A 2009 Harvard Business School study may have said it best, "Happier people give more and giving makes people happier, such that happiness and giving may operate in a positive feedback loop." Much like a hug, the charitable giver finds herself in a "loop" receiving as much or more than she's giving.
Cheryl Carter is FredParent's Production Manager. Her family participates with several local charities and encourages everyone to share in the "positive feedback loop."