The Act of Giving: What’s in it for you?

Why do you give? Have you ever thought about it? There is an old saying from Arnold Rothstein “Look out for number one. If you don’t, no one else will.” Number one, of course, refers to you. But, if it really is all about you, “number one,” why are people inclined to give?

There are the rare selfless individuals who give up everything for the greater good and the benefit of others. Mother Teresa is probably the most recognized example of such a person. However, for the everyday person who is working toward achieving goals and providing for their needs, why do they give? Out of the kindness of their heart? No, they still give for their benefit, right?

Giving is a unique power we all possess that creates synergy in the world. It is great for the giver, but beyond that, it impacts and touches the lives of others, creating a catalyst for good.

So really, why do we give? Here are a few reasons why humans are compelled to give, and not only receive:

It makes you feel euphoric.

When you give, dopamine and endorphins are released into your brain, which produces a happy, euphoric feeling. This response is almost like a high, but in a healthy, entirely innocent way. Who doesn’t like to feel happy and euphoric? If you need a boost of joy in your life, the solution is simple, give a little (or a lot, it is the holiday season after all).


It improves your health.

Giving has been linked to reduced stress levels and overall better health. Several studies have been done which link charitable giving with better blood pressure levels, improved cognitive function, and several other signals of good health. It is fair to say that most people, if not everyone, want to live a long, happy, healthy life. Giving should be included in your lifestyle as a great preventative medicine, right up there with flossing, exercising, and eating healthy.

It increases your satisfaction with life.

There was a study done in Germany that showed those who give throughout their life have higher levels of life satisfaction compared to those who hadn’t, so why NOT give more?

There has also been a recent shift in management training to incentivise people to achieve their goals by thinking about what they want to do, to have, to be, and to give. To be a satisfied human being, we all want to achieve the goals in each of these four categories.

It is no accident that giving is a part of the life satisfaction equation.

A volunteer playing Bingo with kids

It boosts our confidence.

Let’s be real, when you donate your time or money you will likely do it in somewhat of a public sphere. Whether it be sharing the cause on Facebook, mentioning your generous deed to a friend, or writing a check at an event while sitting at a table full of your peers.

Why do we want people to know we gave? Simply because it makes us feel better about ourselves.

There is an overall positive social pressure related to giving. No one would call you a terrible person for giving (well maybe if it is related to politics, but that is a debate for another day). If you want to feel socially included and like you contributed to society, or just gain social praise, maybe you should consider giving.

It saves you money on your taxes.

Who doesn’t want to reduce what they owe the IRS at the end of the year? Like I said, sometimes giving is self-serving.

Through tracking donations you make to credible charities, you can reduce the burden of taxes you owe annually (now who wouldn’t like that!?). This is the government’s sly way of encouraging us to give, and give generously and often. Turns out, they are pretty smart, because they know that this type of incentive causes more people give.

All of this is not meant to infer that you should feel selfish for deciding to give for any of these reasons. Regardless of your reasons for giving, there are always going to be some great perks for you!


Who could complain about being healthier, happier, more popular and paying less taxes?

So start today, it isn’t hard. You can give your time to a local charity, you can sponsor a child, or you can donate your unused things to your local Goodwill. Whatever you do, remember: even though giving provides you with many benefits, it is only the beginning; your act of giving is a catalyst for good in the world. Oh, and a little kindness never hurt anyone either.

If you’ve already started giving, then thank you! And if you want to start, consider Taking the GoAbroad Foundation Pledge. You can give any amount monthly to a different project in need around the world!

This blog was contributed by Tonya Truelove:

Headshot of Tonya TooleyTonya is a homegrown Coloradan, and has been stationed there for life. Although, that is not to say she hasn’t seen the world. In fact, she has spent a considerable amount of time in New Zealand, South Africa, and Europe over the past few years. Always up for an adventure with her husband by her side, Tonya is energetic about life, travel, and fitness.