Giving Tuesday is over, but the giving season has just begun. As we approach the holidays, you are probably busy thinking about all the different people you need to purchase presents for. The holidays can be stressful, but they can be even more stressful for people who are hungry, cold, or lacking a basic need. There are many children and adults who will go without food this year, and many more who will have no presents to open.
Altruism can be a priority the entire year, but hopefully is on your mind right now as we all think about what we have to be grateful for, and how we can help others who have less than we do. In addition to giving to charity in order to help other people, there are many other reasons to give to charity, and some of them might surprise you. Here are five good reasons to give this season.
1. To help others
Yes, you knew this one was coming. It is important to help out other people, and to recognize that fact. According to a 2013 Gallup poll, 65% of Americans said they volunteered their time to a religious organization or some other charity, and 83% said they donated money. Most Americans are already donating their time and money to help others. If you appreciate what you have, and you have extra that you can share, then donating to a charity that is important to you or promotes a cause that you care about is a great way to give back. If you can’t give money (and even if you can) volunteering your time is a wonderful way to help as well.
2. To help yourself
Giving to charity isn’t just helpful for the people that receive your gifts or the services that arise from your donation. According to the Positive Psychology Program, prosocial spending helps us to feel responsible and generous, and that can make us happy. If giving money or time helps others and makes you feel good, then it is certainly a positive thing to do.
Taking stock of what you have and being willing to share it can also be a good exercise in learning or practicing gratitude. According to a study by Paul J. Mills, a professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California, being grateful can actually improve your health. Mills found that being thankful can help patients with asymptomatic heart failure improve their mental and physical health.
3. To simplify your shopping
Guess what makes a wonderful gift? A donation to a charity! Although not everyone will appreciate having a donation made in their name, many people will. Particularly if you are trying to find a gift for someone who has everything, or is very picky, choosing a relevant charity can be a great way to make them feel appreciated, and to honor them. Try to choose a charity that supports a cause that is important to the particular person.
Donations can also help you if you feel obligated to spend a lot of money but you are not comfortable doing so. Many charities will allow you to send a card or email saying that you made a donation in honor of someone, but you often don’t need to say how much it was for.
4. To gain the tax benefit
If you donate money to a charity, you can claim your donation on your taxes. You have to be sure the charity is a tax-exempt organization, which you can do here. If you are giving money and you are not receiving anything back, then you can claim your donation on your taxes. However, you can’t claim your donation if you donate to a specific individual, if you receive a benefit, or you donate to an organization that isn’t qualified. If you donate clothing or items you should determine how much they would sell for if you were to sell them instead.
5. To teach your children
Donating to charity is a great way to teach your children to be generous and to give to others. Taking your kids to volunteer with you is very important, but actually giving money can also be a wonderful way to teach your kids about generosity. Have your kids help pick out a charity that is important to them. If they don’t know, ask them what bothers them in the world, who they would like to help, or a related question – then find a charity that supports what they care about. You can also participate in a charity that allows you to purchase a gift (like Toys For Tots) with your child, so that you can explain the charity but also allow them to actively participate in the giving.
There are many great reasons to give to a charity: doing so will help other people, and it will also help you.
The Cheat Sheet supports Green Side Up Foundation, a non-profit organization providing support for the cancer services at Mission Children’s Hospital.