I’ve been very curious about generosity lately. Thinking about questions like:
- who gives to charity?
- how do they give?
- why do they give? and,
- what are the benefits to those who do give?
I’ve learned some interesting things along the way.
The U.S. is not the most generous country –
I don’t know why I just assumed the U.S. is at the top of the list for generosity. We certainly rank high on the list of most generous nations. According to the CAF World Giving Index, in 2018 Indonesia lands the top spot for the first time. The U.S. comes in at number four which is an improvement of one spot since 2017. The index is based on surveys which ask about: helping a stranger or someone you don’t know, volunteering, and giving to charity. Americans rate high on helping others and donating to charities, but only 39% of respondents said they volunteer so there’s plenty of room for growth. Our rating here is certainly better than our rating on the Global Gender Pay Gap where we came in at number 51! If you haven’t seen the Desi Lydic Abroad show (from the Daily Show) on this topic of the pay gap you must.
Women are more generous than men –
According to a study by U.S. Trust in conjunction with the Lily Family School of Philanthropy at the University of Indiana, 93% of high net worth women give to charity and 56% volunteer, compared to 87% of men giving to charity and 41% who volunteer.
And this doesn’t just hold true for the wealthy. For baby boomer women, they gave 89% more to charity than their male counterparts.
Women are joining giving circles in increasing numbers. These are groups that pool their money and then allocate the funds to causes the group agrees on. Interested in starting your own giving circle? Here’s some ideas how.
Giving is contagious –
It’s curious to me that people always talk about catching a cold on a plane, or dousing themselves in hand sanitizer when they are out in public to avoid all forms of cooties. Why not focus on catching something good?
Research out of UC San Diego and Harvard suggest that when one person gives generously it gives others the nudge to do so as well. This inspiration can spread as much as three degrees. Coming out of the parking garage this morning someone waited and held the door open for me. I then waited a bit longer than I normally would have to hold the door open for someone behind me. Not sure what the guy behind me did, but wouldn’t be surprised if he was a bit more thoughtful on his commute to work. Your kind act could spark dozens and dozens of other kind acts.
Why does any of this matter?
Want to be happier? Studies indicate that spending money on others boosts happiness levels more than spending money on yourself.
How about healthier? According to the Mayo Clinic: People who volunteer have lower rates of depression, lower stress levels, and may actually live longer.
Can being generous make you hotter? One study showed that prosocial men were ranked as more attractive and desirable as romantic partners than non-prosocial men. Another study showed that altruistic people are more desirable as long-term mates.
What about being wealthier? Generosity might be able to help this too. According to a study out of Stockholm University and the University of South Carolina, generous people make more money. According to their research, unselfish people not only have more children, but higher incomes as well.
Why not start your day asking what Benjamin Franklin asked:
“What good shall I do this day?”
See what happens!