Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines charity as:
1 : benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity
2 a : generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering : also : aid given to those in need
I’ve thought for a couple of days about how to approach the subject of giving, especially during the holidays. In past years I would not have given this subject a second thought, but this year finds many watching their budget more carefully, cutting back and in some cases struggling to make ends meet. For some this means that charitable giving will be taking a back seat this holiday season.
Giving is Receiving
I submit that giving is receiving. When we give, we in turn receive what might be one of the greatest gifts known to humankind; the knowledge and the feeling that we’ve done some good in the world to help our fellow man.
In June of 2007, The Chicago Tribune published an article titled; Giving To Charity Is Good For The Brain. According to a study done by economists and psychologists at the University or Oregon, donating money to charity activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure which can be seen scientifically. The study suggests that we are hard wired to help each other and when we do it increases activity in areas of the brain associated with response to rewarding stimuli, such as taking drugs or viewing pictures of loved ones. Pretty powerful stuff. We receive a good feeling from knowing we’ve been charitable.
It would seem that those with means and influence would be the only ones giving big, but this is not the case. Every day, those who can seemingly spare the least are giving away a portion of their income and time.
We can all do our part this season. I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t participate in giving in some way everyday on a small scale. Whether it’s helping a family member, friend or neighbor, sending a text or email, or calling just to say hello, lets all give a little today and everyday.
Ways to Give this holiday season
1. Give your time to local charities to bag food and wrap and deliver gifts to those less fortunate. Visit a local nursing home, shelter or other facility in your area or community during the holidays.
2. Donating money is probably the most common way to help charities. Don’t be shy about donating in small denominations if that’s what you can do. It all adds up.
3. Give globally to charities that help small businesses, women and children around the world. Whether you choose an investment charity like kiva or heifer, or a children’s charity like unicef, choose a charity that you feel good about and do a little research to understand where your funds are going. Here are a few links to get you started: charity.org, charitywatch.org, nuwireinvestor.com and charity navigator.
4. Donating food and resources to local food banks brightens the season and makes Christmas dinner possible for thousands of individuals and families who otherwise would go without.
5. Give a donation in the name of a family, friend , loved one or pet during the holidays.
6. Clean out your closets and donate clothes, shoes, toys and other items you no longer use to charity. You’ll be amazed at how happy others are to have those boots you’ve been trying to figure out what to do with for the last 3 years!
7. Buy gifts supporting giving. These days you can buy gifts supporting charitable causes just about everywhere. Whether it’s buying pink to support the fight against breast cancer, buying Rwanda baskets at Macy’s to support women in Rwanda, visiting The Oprah Store or shopping at the Global Exchange Store, charitable shopping is easy, convenient and supports many good causes.
Giving makes the heart joyful!