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Study finds charitable giving makes everyone happier
Fulfillment cuts across demographics, incomes
Published Friday, October 20, 2017 12:41 pm
by Herbert L. White

Giving to charity makes for happier people, according to a national survey.

The Women’s Philanthropy Institute, which researches the effects of gender on charitable giving, released its annual study, Women Give 2017, earlier this week in Charlotte. The study analyzed the connection between life satisfaction and charitable giving as part of WPI’s work to understand differences in how men and women donate.

The survey found men receive a greater boost when they become donors, while women are happier when they give more. In households where women drive or participate equally in charitable decisions, the entire family is happier.

“It has been our experience at the foundation that giving is just as good for the giver as it is for the gift recipient. This study is empirical evidence of that truth,” said Michael Marsicano, president and CEO of Foundation For The Carolinas, which hosted the study release. “It is essential for those of us in the philanthropic field to understand the needs and profiles of donors. By highlighting the role gender and marital status play in giving patterns, these research findings will help us better serve our fundholders.”

Other findings include:

• Giving to charitable organizations is positively related to life satisfaction. The more a household gives as a percentage of income, the higher the household’s life satisfaction.

• Regardless of marital status (single women, single men, and married couples), giving to charitable organizations is positively related to a household’s life satisfaction.

• In households where either the wife makes charitable decisions or spouses make charitable decisions jointly, life satisfaction increases with the percentage of household income given to charity.

• For households where charitable decisions are driven by women and more than 2 percent of their incomes are given to charity, those making less than $100,000 per year have more of a boost in satisfaction from giving than those making $100,000 or more.

• Donating increases life satisfaction for single men. For single and married women, satisfaction increases with increased giving.  

“These results provide new insights that help us better understand the ‘joy of giving,’ and how men and women experience and contribute to it differently,” said Debra J. Mesch, director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute and the Eileen Lamb O’Gara Chair in Women’s Philanthropy at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. “This research is heartening. We know that people experience greater life satisfaction when they have better health, lower stress levels, and so forth. We now know that giving also adds to life satisfaction, not just for individuals but for their entire families.”


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