Fundraising and Volunteering: Why we love to give
Have you ever asked yourself why we love to fundraise, give to charity or volunteer our time? In this article you will learn why we love to give, why it’s so important to us and what personal health and wellbeing benefits it can bring to us.
According to the World Giving Index 2016 the UK is number one in Europe when it comes to generosity, with an average 63% of us having given help to a stranger, 69% donating to a charity and 33% spent our time volunteering. Ireland is the next most charitable in Europe with 56% helping a stranger, 66% donating money and 40% volunteering. This was closely followed by the Netherlands. On a global scale the most generous country on earth is Myanmar (Burma) for the last three years running. 63% gave help to a stranger, 91% donated money and 55% volunteered. Next giving nation globally is the United States, then Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Canada and Indonesia. So it’s very heart warming and uplifting to know that most of us around the world simply love giving or donating our time to help our fellow human beings in some capacity.
I was encouraged from a very early age to believe that helping others whenever or wherever I can was the right thing to do. When I was very young this was simply standing up on the bus, when less able were standing, so that they could have my seat. Later it was helping out at the bring-and-buy sales for charities. I then read the book ‘A Christmas Carol’ by the great Charles Dickens. I still have his words ringing in my ears today when I first read the line as a child from Marley’s ghost when he said, “Business! Mankind was my business”. Suddenly it all made sense for me. This belief has become more profound as I’ve become older, and I stand firm in this belief today. I’ve now found ways of combining some of the things I love such as networking, allotments and walking to do volunteer work, donating and charity walks to raise vital funds for the charities I support. This got me thinking, why do we love to donate or give our time to support charities or even do good deeds, when we don’t have to? Is it simply enough for us to know that it’s the right thing to do, or is there something more psychological going on? Are we naturally altruistic? Or is something else?
What are the reasons we like to donate, fundraise or volunteer?
According to behavioural scientists the science why people give to charity falls into three categories, they are; Hearts over heads, influenced by others or a contagion.
Hearts over heads – a series of experiments published in The Journal of Risk and Uncertainty in 2003, discovered that people are more likely to respond to charitable requests for a single identifiable beneficiary than a large charitable organisation. This could be down to the fact that they are more identifiable and we can empathise more with the individual cases.
Influenced by others – the experiments also revealed that there could be a competitive edge to giving. JustGiving, the fundraising website observed that people donating to a fundraising page were influenced by the amount of money the previous person had donated and gave a higher donation. Celebrity endorsements seem to have a huge influencing factor for us as well, so this could be why charities like to publicise celebrities that support or become patrons of their charities, as they can be significant factor in their fundraising success.
Giving is infectious – When we see others give to charities, we are more likely to give ourselves. The urge is particularly noticeable when we are encouraged by a significant person in our lives. In three experiments, commissioned by the Cabinet Office for Social Action and conducted by the Behavioural Science Team found that habit is a key factor. The experiments revealed that if we’ve volunteered or fundraised before, statistically we are far more likely to do it again.
Why we volunteer - Bob Moore a volunteer co-ordinator sums it up best for me in his 2008 article ‘Why do people volunteer?’ , he explains that whatever the reason for volunteering, it always has a purpose, he then discusses a myriad of reasons, such as;
o We feel the need to give back
o Personal experience with a problem, illness or cause
o Looking to meet people
o Sharing time with people that have the same interests as ourselves
o Looking to learn new skills that they can use in their workplace
o To keep old skills alive
o Exploring possibilities for career changes
o Workplace experience, or to find out the environment when considering change
o Opportunities for employment
o Looking to have fun
o Do their civic duty
o Strengthen cv’s
o Keep busy and active
o Satisfaction and accomplishment
o Feel better about ourselves
o Take on a challenge for personal goals and development
o To make life easier for others, and a better place for all to live in
o Clandestine reasons - to see how things really work
o Because they were asked!
So it seems that we all have our own personal reasons for volunteering, which probably explains why many of us also extend that to fundraising. So if you are looking to fundraise or want to encourage people to take part in charity work or a business wishing to recruit volunteers, you should consider factoring in these types of opportunities for the people you want to attract. This will probably ensure that you’re on to a winner in achieving your goals and becoming a great success.
Another consideration, not quite such an obvious perk to helping others, is the health benefits of helping others. Studies conducted by eminent psychologists reveal that donating our time or money is scientifically proven to;
o Lengthen our lifespan
o Create greater happiness
o Aid pain management
o Lower our blood pressure
Sara Konrath (PHD) has dubbed this affect as the ‘The Caring Cure’. Other academics and doctors have also revealed other benefits to the helper, such as;
o More positive behaviours in teenagers
o Satisfaction and contentment
o Enhancing individuals overall sense of purpose and identity
o Raising self-confidence and self-esteem
o Encourages friendships which reduces stress and illness
Now you know why we love to give our time or money to help others and the health benefits it can bring to the helper. If you have the time not only is volunteering an investment in others, but also in ourselves and our future happiness and wellbeing. So it might be worth considering if you want to introduce more happiness and purpose into your life to think about fundraising or volunteering as an option in your goal setting strategy.
I’ll be doing the London Marathon walk in September, with a bit of luck I might just see you there! If you want to Donate now to my JustGiving page, I would be extremely grateful.
Happy giving, fundraising and volunteering!
I would love to hear your feedback on this blog. Perhaps you have some experience yourself on fundraising and volunteering you’d like to share with me. Please like and retweet this article on Twitter @AsterlifeC
If you want to discover your star potential and think I may be able to help you, then please call me 07752565740