Help Others (And Be Happier) By Donating to Charity
Giving Tuesday began in 2012 and it takes place the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. This non-traditional ‘holiday’ encourages giving money to worthy causes and people, and is an altruistic response to shopping-based days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
And, lucky for you, giving has a positive impact on your mental health.
There’s a wealth of research that demonstrates how generosity impacts mental health, here are some of the ways giving promotes psychological well-being, plus how you can get started on Giving Tuesday.
The positive mental benefits of donating to charity
The National Institutes of Health did a study on altruism, and what they found in their brain imaging might come as a surprise.
In the study each participant was given $100. If someone chose to donate part of their $100 pleasure sensors in the brain were activated. This simple study demonstrated that giving money makes people feel better.
- The positive feeling that comes from “do[ing] the right thing.”
- Pleasurable feelings of moral satisfaction.
- An innate desire to see ourselves as compassionate and kind.
The benefits aren’t only in our brains, either. Giving to others has even been said to enhance the lives of people suffering from chronic illnesses, including sufferers of HIV and multiple sclerosis.
And, not surprisingly, there are also downsides to not donating when we feel we should. It can lead to feelings of guilt and a negative self-image.
Research has shown time and time again that helping other people has an extremely positive impact on your mental health and emotional well-being. As Psychology Today writer Michal Ann Strahilevitz, Ph.D., explains, “We like to think of ourselves as kind and giving. Thus, giving to charity doesn’t just help the causes being supported, it also helps the givers by making donors happier, improving their self-esteem, and helping them feel more connected to the rest of the world ...”
After learning about all of the psychological benefits of giving, are you ready to participate in Giving Tuesday?
How to participate in Giving Tuesday
If you aren’t sure where to donate on Giving Tuesday, you’re in luck. You can head over to the official #GivingTuesday website to locate charities and organizations right in your own community.
Once you’ve found a cause that you feel drawn to, it doesn’t hurt to vet the organization that you’ve selected. Charity Navigator is a fantastic resource that I’ve used and loved, and it will help you assess the financial health of a charity, including how much money goes to the cause (and how much goes to things like administration).