Just because it is no longer the holiday season, it does not mean that the giving spirit needs to end with it. No matter what time of year it is, putting smiles on the faces of others by lessening the strain they feel can always brighten the days of many, including you. What better feeling is there than to improve the lives of others who are in need, by providing them with a helping hand?
Besides the obvious benefit to the lives of others, your good will can improve your own life. On a personal level, charitable donations benefit you as much or more than they benefit those you are helping through your generosity. Giving to charities allows you to support the causes that are close to your heart, providing you with inner joy, while also helping to reduce your tax burden. A study conducted at the University of Oregon, supported by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging and the National Science Foundation, showed the activation of similar pleasure-related centers deep in the brain to the stimuli of receiving money, seeing money go to a worthy cause or deciding to donate money. Utilizing an advanced brain imaging technique known as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which shows when specific regions of the brain are activated, 19 women received $100 and were told they could keep whatever money remained at the end of the session. Despite the fact that this experiment was controlled and scientific, it conclusively exhibited that donating money makes people feel better. It is also important to realize that it is not necessarily how much you donate that matters as every little bit counts to those in need.
This is especially the case when you are donating to people in developing countries. There are places in the world that just a few U.S. dollars could provide those in need with urgent medical attention as well as a week's worth of meals for a starving child and a better educational experience. In addition to the satisfying feeling that you receive from selflessly helping others to live a more comfortable life, there are of course tax benefits to donating to charities. When you give to an IRS-approved charity you are given the opportunity to write off donations on your tax return. In order to find out what charities are approved for tax deductions you can reference The Life You Can Save’s fact sheet or the IRS website for further information.
If the donations you make are deductible, the actual cost of the donation is reduced by your tax savings. The more money you have to give, the less it becomes in the real cost of the donation. For example, those in the highest tax bracket of 35% pay an actual cost of $65 on a $100 donation. Even those with lower income, who sit in the lowest tax bracket of 15%, will pay an actual cost of $85 on a donation of $100. Either way you are given the opportunity to send some of your money to those who are truly in need as opposed to giving it all to the government. In turn, you are further helping the economy as a whole by giving to the people with the least. There are limits to how much you can deduct, but those limits are rather high. Although there is a practical limit to the long-term benefits and the social impact we can individually have on our communities through our charitable gifts, a properly done corporate giving campaign can have an overwhelming impact on a community.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs that go on for months or even years can have even more of a positive effect. On top of helping out a community or organization, charitable giving provides important internal and external benefits to the business itself. Within a company, these programs can lead to better employee engagement, which can heighten ethical behavior, organizational appreciation, employee productivity and overall pride in the work that they do. This also leads to a higher morale amongst your workforce, which in turn lead to smaller losses in time and productivity due to things such as lateness and extended breaks. Additionally, CSR programs add to an overall sense of teamwork as it brings together people from all levels of the business in working towards a common goal. Outside of the workplace, CSR programs will bring positive results to the external image of the company. With the heightened importance of media attention in the fast-paced society in which we live, public relations are more critical to a company’s success than they have ever been before.
Charities and other fundraising endeavors rely heavily on the media to share their campaigns with the public, which means that companies that give a lot will be figure prominently in the considerable media coverage. Also increasingly important to a company’s image is how they are portrayed in the social media realm. Just about everybody has an account on Facebook and/or Twitter these days. When a company is actively involved in a CSR program they will undoubtedly garner the benefits of positive social media mentions and sharing, which goes a long way in today’s society.
Furthermore, this enhances a company’s reputation and inevitably leads to higher profit margins as positive public perception and social media sentiment influences branding, which also leads to more frequent purchasing. No matter what the financial benefits are to giving to those in need, and they can be rather beneficial, there is no denying that it is gratifying to help out those who are less fortunate. It can also allow you the opportunity to meet new people who believe in the same causes as you, leading to lifelong friendships. In addition, it can pass down to the next generation, because when children see you giving to the needy, they are much more likely to adopt a giving mindset. Overall, it adds more meaning to your daily life through improving the lives of others, while allowing you to feel good about yourself.