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Why Giving Makes Us Feel Good

If you’ve ever been on the giving end of benevolence, then you know the good, warm feeling you get inside of you when you lend a hand to those in need. But what about giving is it that makes us feel this way? Why does helping other paradoxically make ourselves feel better?

  1. There’s a physiological response in our bodies to giving.
    • While it absolutely seems to be a paradox, when we give to others, the pleasure centers and reward areas of our brains light up, but get this — our brains light up the same way they would if we were the receiver of the gift, not the one giving it. A 2008 study from Harvard Business School found that giving money to others lifted the levels of happiness of participants more than it did if they spent the money on themselves. This is because your body produces boosts of endorphins during acts of generosity that make us feel good about ourselves and others, the same kind of feeling describes as a “runner’s high.”
  2. Giving is good for your health.
    • Studies have shown that helping others has numerous positive effects on your body, most notably in the brain and the heart. Giving helps us physically by lowering our blood pressure (especially when the volunteer is elderly) and stress levels through providing a sense of appreciation and meaning in our lives. Giving is also good for your mental health, and has been linked to decreasing depression in volunteers.
  3. We feel better about ourselves when we volunteer.
    • Giving to others in any form has been shown to increase not only the volunteer’s self-esteem, but also their overall satisfaction in life. People who volunteer experience a boost in mood, feel physically healthier, and feel less stressed out overall. Giving to others has been shown to promote gratitude in our own lives by helping us “count our blessings” and explore how much in our lives we truly have to be thankful for. When you feel as though you have so little, seeing how much the little you have can do in the life of someone who has even less, it puts things into perspective.
  4. We help ourselves by helping others.
    • There’s an old saying that goes “you can’t help someone up a hill without getting closer to the top yourself.” In the process of giving, we gain from others as much as they gain from us, especially for causes that hit close to home. If you were victimized by something in your life and then you go on to become an advocate for those affected, you’re helping yourself through the battle as much as you’re helping others and empowering them to give themselves a different outcome.

Why People Give to Charity

If you read my blog post last week, you learned a little bit about why some people don’t give to charity; this week, as we enter the season of giving, I decided to take a look at some of the reasons why people choose to give their money to those less fortunate. On a personal level, it’s great to….. From a philanthropic perspective. if you’re hoping to entice people into donating to your charity, you first need to understand why people are donating their money and what their motives are for giving. Maximize your business’s efforts to raise money by checking out some of the top reasons why people choose to give.

  1. The cause hits close to home.
    • This can be in both a figurative and a literal sense; people are more likely to help out a cause in an area near them, and people are going to feel drawn to causes that raise awareness and benefit particular hardships they’ve personally endured. Consider if you were raised in the foster system — as an adult, you would likely want to benefit other children who are currently sharing in that experience.
  2. They’re looking to make a difference.
    • In times of crisis, it’s easy to feel powerless in the face of calamity. For this reason, people often choose to give their money because they are looking to affect positive change and make lives better for a specific group of individuals. If you are moved by the plight of an impoverished nation, you’re going to seek out ways that your donation can directly benefit them and improve their lives.
  3. They want to give back to something that benefited them.
    • If a particular cause or organization made a lasting impact on your life in one way or another, you’re likely going to want to give back once you’re financially able; for example, if your house were to burn down and you receive assistance from the Salvation Army or the Red Cross, you’re going to be more likely to make a routine of donating to them in an attempt to give back and show gratitude for all the help you were given.
  4. They want to preserve a legacy.
    • Many academic and athletic scholarships are given in honor of — and in the name of — a loved one as a way to preserve their memory long after their lives are over. Some people choose to start scholarships or grants to donate to people or organizations that help to carry on the vision of the loved one who has passed away. Other people, like Bill and Melinda Gates, have decided to use their incredible wealth to build one of the world’s largest nonprofits so that their money could keep helping others long after they’re gone.

There are many reasons why people choose to give to charity, but the important thing to remember is that people give with their hearts and not their heads. That’s not to say that people are going to give mindlessly; rather, people are more likely to give to causes that appeal to their emotions and their basic human instincts.

lloyd claycomb millennials philanthropy

Millennials in Philanthropy

You’ve probably heard the term millennial used before to describe the generation of young adults born between 1980 and 1999. There are a staggering 80 million of these young adults living in the United States alone. There’s an awful lot of discussion around the millennial generation. Some call them entitled while others call them innovative. What we are not hearing a lot about, is their philanthropic efforts.

They give more.

Millennials may not have as much disposable income as those of the generations above them, but it certainly is not hindering their giving. An astounding 84 percent of millennials donated to charity in 2014 alone. That’s a lot of giving. Those donations also averaged to about $481 per person. These young adults are making a huge difference in shaping philanthropy.

They volunteer more.

Young adults are not just giving money, they are volunteering their time too. It’s estimated that over 70 percent of millennials are volunteering in some capacity. They don’t just volunteer at the first place they can find either. Most millennials look for areas that they can use their skills to maximize their time and do the most good.

Influenced by social media.

It’s probably not much of a surprise, but millennials are heavily influenced by their peers and social media. Remember the ALS ice bucket challenge? It was a viral social media campaign that caused an enormous influx of donations to the ALS Association. This was only one campaign, but social media shed light on the cause and millennials stepped up to the plate with their smartphones and their wallets.

Issue based donors.

Lastly, millennials are often issue based donors. They donate their time and money to causes they feel strongly about. Largely, these causes are social issues or things pertaining to children. Millennials also do their homework when it comes to their donations. They want to know how the money is going to be used before they are ready to give. They understand it’s not enough to simply give, you need to be giving to causes you believe in.

Millennials are the largest living generation to date. By 2020, they will make up 50 percent of the workforce and be a third of the adults living in the US. These numbers are huge and so is the impact they have. As they come into more money and settle into careers, we are going to see their efforts make even more of a wave than we already are.

lloyd claycomb Why People Don't Give to Charity

Why People Don’t Give to Charity

Helping those less fortunate than yourself is a great way to make a difference while spending your money, and many people across the country are seeing the benefits themselves. Each year, the number of people donating and the amount they’re giving increases; in 2015, the total amount donated to charitable organizations was $373.25 billion, an increase of 4% (adjusted for inflation) from 2014. However, with all that people are giving and all the good that’s being done, for some reason or another, some people still don’t see the need to donate their money to benefit others. Here are some of the top reasons why people don’t give to charity, and why they should anyways.

We feel most strongly connected with those closest to us.

In terms of intimacy as well as geographical distance, we are more likely to give to causes or victims that are close to us than we are to help long-distance. Australian philosopher Peter Singer noted that, while Americans generously gave over $1.5 billion in disaster relief to the victims of the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia, their donation during Hurricane Katrina of $6.5 billion  was more than four times as much; to put this into perspective, 1,600 people were killed during Hurricane Katrina while 220,000 were killed in the tsunami. Our overwhelming interest in helping only those closest to us has lead to only 5% of the country’s donations being sent to help on an international level. While you may not feel as though you need to give because your home is not directly being affected by a tragedy or plight, there are countless people out there who are and could greatly benefit from your help.

“I need my money for my family.”

Providing for your family and those dependent on you should always be your number one concern when it comes to money. However, even between bills, loans, and saving for the future, there are ways that you can still contribute without digging into your family’s future. First, look for little expenditures in life you could give to others instead; maybe give up your morning coffee one day a week and set that money aside for charity. Next, identify charitable organizations that have a track record of being reliable and effective, then target your donations to them for the maximum impact for your dollar.

We don’t think our contribution makes a difference.

In times of crisis, it’s not uncommon to see celebrities or other public figures donating tens of thousands of dollars towards the cause, which can make your $10 or $20 donation feel irrelevant. However, in some of the most impoverished nations, the smallest donations can make a huge impact. In fact, the organization Project Healthy Children (PHC) has developed a fortification operation that can feed a person for an entire year for less than a dollar. With the varying costs of living around the world, a small amount of money in the United States can go a long way in other countries in need.

We assume someone else will do it.

Often referred to as the “bystander effect,” we as humans have a tendency to believe that, even if we don’t lend a hand, there’s someone else who will pick up the slack. This belief allows us to quiet our consciences and feel as though we contributed by giving thought to helping without actually helping at all. Instead of letting the burden of responsibility fall to someone else, be proactive and affect change by helping out in whatever way you can.

lloyd claycomb grateful

3 Ways to Stay Grateful

As the holiday season approaches, it can become very easy to get wrapped up in things. While there’s nothing wrong with being excited about new toys, there’s something to be said for being grateful. Unfortunately, many people stop being terribly grateful the moment they can’t get what they want. If you need a bit of help appreciating what you have today, you might want to look at the ideas below.

Spend Five Minutes Thinking About the Past

One of the hardest things for most people to admit is that they have it better now than they did in the past. While many people romanticize the past, it’s not too hard to remember that life is always about moving forward. If you want to be grateful for what you have today, take a few moments to think about what you didn’t have in the past. You had times when you struggled or when you could barely make ends meet, and being able to move past that is a major accomplishment. It’s much easier to be grateful when you remember that things haven’t always been so good.

Volunteer!

Perhaps the best way to stay grateful is to work for the betterment of others. Go out and volunteer, and not just during the holidays. If you really care about others, you’ll go after those positions that have little glamour and require quite a bit of work. While the work might be hard, it will also teach to start valuing what you already have. A bit of volunteering is good for the soul, and it’s also great for those who want to be a bit more grateful for what they already have. Volunteer organizations are always on the lookout for help, so make sure you get out there!

Catalog What You Have

You’d be amazed by all the assets you actually have in your life. Take a few minutes to write down everything that’s in your house. If you find that too overwhelming, just write down everything that is in the room in which you are currently sitting. Once you realize the sheer amount of things you have, you’ll realize that you’re so much better off than most people have been during human history. It’s easier to feel like you aren’t doing well when you ignore what you have, so take a look around you in order to feel grateful.

Staying grateful is a process that requires a good deal of vigilance. Get out there, help others, and keep track of what you actually have today. If you can do all of that, you’ll find it easier to be honest about where you are in life – and much easier to be grateful for those things that benefit you now.

origins of philanthropy

The Origins of Philanthropy

Philanthropy is an age old ideal and belief system that deals with the desire to help those less fortunate than you take care of themselves. While the primary focus of charity is to help reduce the suffering and pain caused by social problems and injustices, philanthropy differs by actively seeking solutions for the various social problems themselves. In essence, charity and philanthropy demonstrate the two halves of “give a man a fish, feed him for the day; teach a man to fish, feed him for life” philosophy, respectively. Philanthropy seeks to empower the individuals in need by helping them actualize their own potential and learn valuable skills that can help them get their lives back in order.

Etymologically speaking, philanthropy literally means “the love of humanity.” The word itself comes from the Greek word philanthropia — meaning kindness/humanity/love/benevolence to mankind — with philo meaning ‘loving’, and anthropos meaning ‘mankind.’

Modern philanthropy — or what we think of as philanthropy today — has its roots in ancient cultures. Many old-world cultures have placed great importance on the act of benevolence; Chinese classical thought, Hindu scriptures, and the ancient Greeks all considered philanthropy and acts of giving to be an essential part of our existence as human beings and even as “fundamental to democracy.” Similar ideals on giving can be seen across many cultures all throughout history; ancient sub-Saharan civilizations held kindness and the act of reciprocity in high esteem, Native American cultures believed in the practice of giving as a way to promote balance and harmony in their lives, and classic, widespread Judeo-Christian religions all preach “doing onto others as you would have done to you” as a means of helping others.

In the 1100s, Moses Maimonides — a philosopher and rabbi — first put all of these similar ideals together in the same words under his “Golden Ladder of Charity” found in the Mishneh Torah where he details the different levels of giving, from being forced to give to willingly donating to people unknown. His hierarchy for philanthropy and giving has helped to shape our notions of giving all the way up through present times.

Sources often cite 1914 as the date when modern philanthropy began in the United States. Ohio banker Frederick Goff developed the idea for ‘community foundations,’ a new type of philanthropy that focused its attention on the problems found in the individual philanthropist’s home area, be it a town, city, or small neighborhood.

When it comes to philanthropy, it doesn’t matter how much you give, the important thing is that you are doing something to help make better the lives of those less fortunate than yourself. As Saint Mother Teresa once said, “It is not how much you do, but how much love you put into the doing that matters.”

disaster-relief

How to Give When Disaster Strikes

To view this post as a video, please click here. 

When a disaster happens, you want to help in any way that you can. Be it a hurricane like in New Orleans, an earthquake like in Haiti, a tsunami like in Japan, the terror attacks like in France, or any other natural or manmade disaster, humanity leaps into action to rally behind whatever nation or nations have been affected. While it can feel great to donate your money to help people in need, the opportunity to lend aid also comes with people looking to take advantage of benevolence. Make sure that your kindness isn’t exploited and read these tips for giving during a disaster.

  • Don’t donate supplies. When you hear on the news that people have gone for over a day without food or water, the tugging at your heartstrings can make it difficult not to start a canned food or clothing drive to lend a hand. As nice of a sentiment as this is, it’s not a practical way to help the people who need it most. It would be difficult to send packages into the disaster area especially if no one is there to receive them and distribute them accordingly. If you have supplies to get rid of that you’d like to donate to a cause, look for a place like Goodwill that takes clothing donations or sell your used garments to a thrift shop and then donate the money you make to aid the disaster victims.
  • Don’t donate over the phone. While it might be much more convenient for you to give over the phone than have to mail in a check or visit a donation center, it’s one of the easiest ways for people looking to exploit the disaster to operate. For this and many other reasons, you should never give out your credit card information to someone who’s called you soliciting money over the phone. If the cause is one that strikes your interest, ask them to send you more information and do more research before donating.
  • Do your research before donating online. Before donating on one of the websites that pop up in your Facebook feed, make sure you know where your money is actually going. Many ‘charities’ — if you can call them that — operate under the guise of lending aid but some keep as much as 97 cents on the dollar, donating just 3 cents to the causes they claim your donation is going to help. Do your homework and find causes who are actually committed to helping the same cause that you are; if possible, go to the charity’s authorized website directly to find how you can help. The same way you should be skeptical of causes reaching out for you to donate over the phone, be wary of email solicitations as well, and make sure you know where you’re giving before you do.

 

benefits of philanthropy

3 Surprising Benefits of Philanthropy

It’s no secret that philanthropy — and the act of giving in general — benefits the ones being helped. However, what you may not be aware is just how much philanthropy benefits the giver, too. Aside from the satisfaction of helping those less fortunate and knowing you’ve done a good deed, philanthropy acts can benefit you in numerous ways that you may have never even considered.

More and more studies are being produced highlighting the personal advantages of giving back. Researchers have dubbed these benefits the “giver’s glow” and the “helper’s high.” Reports indicate that those who volunteer their time and services to help others experience a myriad of positive effects. In overwhelming majority, people who give experience an overall enriched sense of well-being and purpose, less stress, and greater happiness. Alongside these positive spiritual and emotional benefits, philanthropy can also have positive effects on your physical health, too.

  1. Volunteering can help extend your life expectancy. A study in the 2013 journal of Psychology and Aging shows clear evidence that “volunteering is predictive of reduced mortality risk.” Though at this point it’s unclear why volunteering can lengthen your lifespan, the correlation between the two is astoundingly clear, and this could be a huge discovery as the baby boomer generation moves towards retirement.
  2. Volunteering can help lower your blood pressure. Although — much like the increased life expectancy — it’s unclear as to why volunteering can lower your blood pressure, the evidence is once again there to support the claim. Many believe that the impact that philanthropy has on blood pressure is due to the ways its inherent nature of being both physically active as well as altruistic can reduce stress. Since volunteering proffers an opportunity for people to expand their possibly limited social circles, it allows them to improve their sense of well-being through interactions with others.
  3. Philanthropy can help reduce your stress levels. In addition to increasing your sense of self-worth, volunteering can also help reduce the amount of stress that you experience. By donating your time to help others, you will experience a new sense of meaning in life which can be stress reducing. Paradoxically, those who donate their time also feel as though they have more time themselves, which in this stressful, busy world can be incredibly cathartic.

One of the most incredibly aspects of philanthropy is that, despite being an intrinsically selfless deed, it helps both the giver and the receiver immensely. As social creatures we, as humans, are hardwired to want to help one another, and when we do, we experience the benefits as well. As the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “It is one of the beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely help another without helping himself.”

tips before volunteering

4 Tips Before Volunteering

Volunteering is one of the most positively impactful things you can do as a person. However, in recent years, the number of people who are opting to volunteer is dwindling; in 2015 only 24.9% of the population chose to volunteer their time to help those in need. Many times, people would like to volunteer but have no idea how or where to even get started. There are many decisions to take into consideration when choosing to volunteer, and you may be faced with decisions that you don’t even know that you’re making. Before you choose to volunteer your time or donate your money to a cause, make sure that it’s a cause that will use your donations and services in the best way to serve the greater good.

  1. Determine what you can offer. If you want to volunteer, make sure that you don’t stretch yourself too thin trying to do too much. Ask yourself questions like: How much of my time can I give on a weekly or monthly basis? What am I willing to do, and what am I not willing to do? What do I want to take away from this experience? Make sure that you’re being realistic about your goals and honest with yourself about what you’re actually able to do.
  2. Find a charity whose efforts match your philanthropic passions. For example, if you’re passionate about helping animals, do your homework; if your goal is to help them find homes, then you may want to locate a no-kill shelter. Identify what you hope to accomplish by volunteering, and find organizations that meet the same goals.
  3. Stick to your commitment. You start out saying that you’re going to volunteer every night of the week, but it very quickly slips back to one night a week at best due to other commitments and time constraints. If you choose to volunteer, be reasonable about your commitment and when you make one, stick to it! If you’re constantly being a no-show volunteer, you’re doing more damage to the organization than if you had been realistic from the start.
  4. Look at where your time and money will go. A 2013 study revealed that 50 of the worst charities in America devoted less than 4% of their donations to direct cash aid — something to which many people believe their entire donation goes. Before you select a charitable organization to donate your time or money, do your research. Find out how much of what you give will directly benefit the cause you’re trying to help and how your efforts will directly impact it as well.

Volunteering is more than something that you should do, it needs to be something that you want to do. Finding a cause that speaks to you and committing your time to helping it can engage you in ways that nothing ever will.

our warriors at home

Our Warriors at Home

American soldiers risk their lives daily to defend our freedoms, oftentimes at great personal injury to themselves. There are many organizations in place, like the Wounded Warrior Project, that provide help to these soldiers and their families by providing financial assistance for medical-related and other expenses that individuals living with disabilities and physical impairments often face. These organizations can make a huge difference in the lives of these soldiers, especially as they go through the long and painful recovery process that frequently requires them to learn how to live with permanent and life-altering ailments and disabilities.

The caregivers of these soldiers have their own battles and challenges to face; while their husband, wife, son, or daughter has sacrificed for their country, the caregivers must sacrifice themselves, too. These caregivers stand by their soldiers’ sides through the pain and struggle of recovery, often turning their lives upside-down in the process. They will experience pain and heartache themselves, and may be forced to shift their priorities and put their hopes and dreams on hold so that they can be there for their loved one. The support systems and financial assistances available to these physically and psychologically injured men and women are, without a doubt, commendable services, but the caregivers of these soldiers tend to be overlooked. That is, until now.

Lloyd Claycomb, a Colorado businessman and philanthropist, founded “Our Warriors at Home,” a non-profit organization whose mission is to give support to the wives and mothers of post-9/11 active duty, National Guard, and reserve service members and veterans across all branches of the military by taking some of the burden of care from them and allowing them a day to enjoy life. Each person who qualifies will receive an entire day of rest and relaxation or recreation paid for by the organization. Recipients can choose from a day at the spa, a fully accommodated stay at a luxury hotel, skydiving, and many other options.

“There seem to be many avenues by which our injured veterans can receive assistance,” said Claycomb, “but my heart aches for the wives, mothers, and caregivers of those suffering from service related injuries and how their lives are forever changed by their loved one’s willingness to courageously serve their country. While there may not be much I can do to permanently change their difficult situation, I felt compelled to find a way to bring some joy into their lives.”

While Lloyd Claycomb is already involved in a number of charities, “Our Warriors at Home” is his next step to making a difference in the lives of others and a positive impact in his community. While the organization was created to offer assistance to the wives, mothers, and caregivers of wounded soldiers in Colorado specifically, Claycomb hopes that one day this organization will grow to encompass the nation.

Claycomb, along with the United Builders Service Inc. board of directors, last year decided to donate 10% of their profits in 2016 to charities including “Our Warriors at Home,” and Claycomb himself has said that he will personally match the UBS donations to the organization and has already set aside $100,000 to get the organization up and running.

Learn more here.

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