By: Sarah Freya
Amidst an ever-changing and at times chaotic world, people continue to find hope in small acts of giving. These small acts have proven to amount to a lot, as was shown in 2017 when charitable giving in the United States exceeded $400 billion for the first time. Collective acts of giving can help fight inequality and make the world a better place. But they also have some subtle but powerful psychological benefits for both the giver and receiver.
Benefits for the receiver
There are people in need around the globe, and some cannot afford even the most basic necessities. When these individuals receive charitable donations, the impact on their physical well-being is the first obvious result. Depending on the organization, it could mean protection against diseases or a month’s worth of food. However, longer-lasting effects lie just beneath the surface for these people, as their mental state improves as a direct result of charitable donations.
For example, one study looked into the case of women who cannot afford feminine hygiene products on a regular basis. Lead researcher Anne Kuhlmann from Saint Louis University explains that adequate menstrual hygiene management is a basic women’s right and should not be treated as a luxury. The failure to meet these basic needs for women negatively impacts their psychological well-being. The indignity of not being able to care for themselves on such a basic level often causes insecurity. Many low-income or incarcerated women are in dire need of basic hygiene products. They not only get relief from a donation box with these items, but will also experience less insecurity, leading to a more positive outlook on life.
In other words, the comfort of knowing they have received basic necessities and the fact that someone out there cared enough to provide it for them, will give receivers incomparable gratefulness and joy. What’s more, they aren’t the only ones who’ll get a psychological boost, as we’ll see below.
Benefits for the giver
As it turns out, there are also plenty of psychological benefits for donors. A German study proves that a strong sense of satisfaction can be derived from giving to the community. This has long been explored by academics and psychologists who examine human relations. In fact, there is an even bigger emphasis in education right now to explore every aspect of psychology. Maryville University touches on social psychology, which tackles our personal relationships with other people. Social psychologists have identified that interpersonal relationships thrive on mutual and beneficial interactions. That being said, giving does more for your own well-being and happiness than you may realize.
In fact, the happiness that you get from buying a new outfit or going out to have fun can be surpassed by a single act of giving. This was revealed in the results of a study by the University of Oregon that found charitable giving stimulates the brain in a similar way to drugs or other stimuli. The researchers found that there is a surge of dopamine and endorphins as a response to charitable donations. This is in line with Denise Fabella’s musings on charity here on I Support the Girls after having experienced this first hand. She wrote, “the smiles on the faces of the inmates that saw the I Support the Girls donation box gave me the most joy I could have asked for this summer.”
Overall, invaluable positive psychological effects can be derived from donating for both the giver and the receiver. So the next time you have the option to help someone in need, think about how your small sacrifice can lead to a world of good not only for them but your mental well-being as well.