Beyond the Tax Break : The Benefits of Charitable Giving

There’s no question that some people give to charitable organizations because of the tax break they receive. Alex Perdikis, general manager at Silver Springs Koons Automotive, knows there’s so much more about giving to others than money, however. Alex not only donates money, but his time, to several charitable organizations, including the Down Syndrome Network, Leukemia Lymphoma Society and the American Cancer Society. Alex believes that giving to others is not something that’s nice to do, but it’s the right thing to do. It’s a value he works hard to instill in his children.

The Brain’s Reward

According to researchers at the University of Oregon, individuals who make charitable donations feel a “warm glow.” The brain responds to such giving in a way that is not unlike some types of stimulant drugs. The brain releases endorphins and dopamine that make the giver feel a sense of rewarding satisfaction. In fact, the physiological reward is much greater for charitable giving than it is for the purchase of material items. It seems that humans are hard-wired to help those in need.

A Happier Life

A University of  Missouri, Columbia and University of California, Riverside study found that people who gave to others scored much higher on feelings of contentment and joy than those who did not. Those who give, whether it’s time, money or both, also experience an overall greater satisfaction of life. Clearly, the act of helping others increases happiness.

Improve Your Health by Volunteering

Volunteering has the added benefit of improving physical and mental health. Older adults in particular show improved cognitive function, increased walking speeds and watch fewer hours of television. In addition, volunteers have lower rates of depression and stress. Studies indicate that older adult volunteer programs benefit participants more than social programs geared toward their age group, such as senior exercise activities. Volunteering also broadens social circles.

It’s a Family Thing

Volunteering as a family is a great way to give back to the community, instill values and spend quality time together. When children learn the importance of thinking outside themselves and experience the rewards that volunteering brings, they grow up with a spirit of giving.

Find Your Cause

Alex Perdikis is heavily involved in charities near and dear to his heart. Giving money is easy, but if you are thinking of volunteering time, consider opportunities that best match your interests and talents. For example, if you are a retired teacher, consider volunteering for tutoring or reading programs at your local school. Food banks, soup kitchens and hunger relief programs always need volunteers with a variety of skill sets. If you have a family member with a disability or disease, you can volunteer to work with charities dedicated to those areas. Perhaps you or a family member is a military veteran. Volunteering to help veterans get to doctor appointments is a great way to give back to those who gave so much.