Have you ever volunteered your time or donated money to a worthwhile cause? How did you feel after making that contribution? Most people would say that they felt good about themselves and happy afterwards. This feeling of satisfaction isn’t just by chance; there are evidence-based parallels between giving back and your overall well-being.
In a recent study, Feeling Good about Giving: The Benefits (and Costs) of Self-Interested Charitable Behavior, researchers found that individuals who devote more money to prosocial spending reported greater happiness, whereas personal spending was unrelated to happiness. This shows that the old adage, “it is far better to give than receive,” is certainly true.
There is also research that supports the idea that giving is actually good for your health. Volunteering and donating funds are linked to improved physical health and longevity. In a 2006 study conducted by Piferi and Lawler, it was found that those who provided social support to others had lower blood pressure than those who did not.
It also has been found that charitable giving activates the reward center in our brain. The 2007 body of research conducted by Harbaugh, Mayr and Burghart, showed that donating creates a response in our brain that delivers deep pleasure. This feeling is sometimes greater than the rewards of a personal purchase.
As you can see, giving back to a local nonprofit or helping out a friend in need is far better than only reaping the benefits of other’s generosity. Donating dollars or your time tremendously helps out your community, but it also can improve your feeling of fulfillment in life, physical and emotional health, and overall pleasure.
Volunteers of America, Dakotas has numerous fundraising drives and volunteer opportunities to participate in. Some of these opportunities include our Fresh Start Hygiene Drive, Spirit Tree, Rise & Shine, and more. To learn about how you can get involved, contact James Payer II at J.Payer@voa-dakotas.org.