Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Giving Helps the Giver

I’ve had giving on my mind a lot lately. For my job, I ask people to give. [Yes, I’m a “telemarketer” if that’s what you want to call it, but it’s not to sell, it’s for a cause, and I generally enjoy it]. At this job we talk about giving a lot. We watched a speech about giving. In church we talk about giving. Sunday night, speakers at the Christmas devotional spoke on giving.

So since it’s on my mind and I think its an extremely important thing, I’m going to tell you about it in two blog posts. This one is all about the speech we listened to at my work, called Why Giving Matters by Aruthur C. Brooks [no, he is not a professor at BYU; he is President of the American Enterprise Institute and a devout Roman Catholic].

Brooks decided to set out on a mission to prove that a statement her heard, giving makes you richer, was completely and totally false. As an economist he knew there was no way in the world giving money away would help you get even more money.

Well I am here to tell you that Mr. Brooks did not prove that statement wrong, he proved himself wrong.

“Specifically, here’s what I found. If you have two families that are exactly identical—in other words, same religion, same race, same number of kids, same town, same level of education, and everything’s the same—except that one family gives a hundred dollars more to charity than the second family, then the giving family will earn on average $375 more in income than the nongiving family—and that’s statistically attributable to the gift.”

Seems impossible right? Well let’s think about this. And actually, let me just sum up Brook’s hour long speech. Giving makes people happier. Giving and serving and volunteering give people what psychologists call the “helper’s high.” Research shows that giving literally makes people happier and reduces stress. And think about that. Think about it opposite. What happens when we are stressed? We can’t perform as well. We become overwhelmed. So when we are aren’t stressed, we perform better and we succeed.

Successful people can hold jobs better, they can progress in jobs better. Not only that but when people see that you are a giver, they see you as a leader.

So it’s true. Giving helps the giver. In many ways.

Now, with this holiday season approaching, we don’t want to be selfish right? We know that giving helps more than those that we give too, but how can we help people even more than that? This is what Brooks said:

“Now I’m going to ask you to take a pretty sophisticated understanding here of charitable giving. As Christian people we are taught that giving is important to help others. I’m telling you that the data say giving helps you, so if you want to help others, don’t just give to them—think about what you can do today to help somebody else to give. The main beneficiary of a charitable gift is the giver him- or herself.”

So how can we help others give? The most obvious way, ask them. That’s what I do at work, and that’s why I love my job. But depending on your circumstances, that just might not work. Brooks suggested simply being an example. As we give, others will see our happiness and want to become givers as well. In this way we are not only helping the people we give to, but we are helping others become givers, become happy, less stressful, and more successful along the way. 


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