September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month, making it the perfect time to give back through charitable donations. But the benefits of giving extend far beyond supporting a worthy cause. Science shows generosity not only helps recipients but also significantly enriches your own life – mentally, physically, and financially.
Giving activates reward centers in the brain and releases feel-good chemicals like dopamine and endorphins, producing what researchers call the “helper’s high.” In fact, simply thinking about making a donation to help others can help activate the brain’s happiness center, and the warm glow you feel is a natural mood booster and stress reliever.
Giving can also lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, boost self-esteem, and lower depression risk. By making you happier, giving back helps you live longer.
While it doesn’t seem logical, giving money away can even make you wealthier. Noted economist and professor, Arthur Brooks, began researching this claim to prove it wasn’t true; however, his research found giving yielded a 300% return – for every $1 donated, $3 was returned. Who knew philanthropy could pay off so literally?
There are many ways to give; but if you’re making a monetary donation, you’ll want to consider how to maximize its impact:
Give locally. Donations to small, community organizations often provide the most direct and immediate impact.
Research first. Before opening your wallet, visit websites like charitynavigator.org or givewell.org to ensure your donations will be used wisely.
Know the tax benefits. If you itemize, in-kind charitable donations can help reduce your tax burden if the organization you're donating to is a 501c3 or public charity.
While giving feels good, its deeper significance is bringing help to those in need. Nearly all donors feel a moral duty to support others if they have the means. Know that your generosity, however big or small, has the power to transform lives, including your own. Giving really is better than receiving.