Discussion on whether charitable giving boosts well-being dates as far back to ancient Greece. And as it turns out, Aristotle wasn’t so far off the mark.
A growing body of research into charitable giving builds the case that doing good for others does in fact boost your physical and mental health.
MRIs have found giving, whether a kind act or the donation of funds, triggers the same pleasure systems in your brain as food or wine. Other good news, there’s also a boost in Oxycontin involved, reduced blood pressure and increased immunity over long-periods.
That is, if it’s done right.
Here are our five top ways to ensure your employees get the most out of charitable giving and your company’s program creates a healthier and happier workplace within weeks.
1) Maximise flexible giving
A study by psychology researchers at the University of Rochester found that participants who were told they “should” give were significantly less likely to reap the personal benefits than those who were given the choice.
Offering employees a giving program is important. Making it known is critical. But be sure to welcome participation, don’t force it. Allow for anonymity and ensure your program is flexible enough for staff to opt in and out, and shakeup their involvement throughout the year.
2) Give employees choice
People without a doubt donate to the causes they most personally connect with. Research on empathy shows those who adopt the perspective of someone in need not offer help but emotionally feel much better for doing so.
This is not inconsistent with Good2Give’s research into employees’ giving behaviour. The study of 1000 employees across Australia found that nine out of ten are motivated to give to the charities they’ve personally experienced or feel affiliated with.
While your company may have some great charity partners – remember to give your employees choice. Have them partake in decisions on where funds are donated and support staff get behind the charities that matter most to them.
3) Share the impact!
Harvard’s study into giving behaviour also brought home that knowing one’s charitable impact is not only important for the strategic among us. Whether research participants saw the community impact firsthand or simply gained an explanation of how funds were being used didn’t matter.
What mattered was that participants felt their contribution had made a difference. Remind your employees of the impact their charitable work has. Match their donations. And do so regularly.
You can also boost morale by inviting charities to share their work with staff and share their thanks.
4) Build momentum
By extension, a sense of donor accomplishment is amplified when we give as part of a wider group. Giving circles, disaster appeals and office fundraisers all remind us that we’re not in it alone!
Company led giving programs are a great opportunity to bring employees together, and in many cases, create vibrant communities of giving. These initiatives remind us that when one falls there are many to pick us up.
So invest in your companies giving community. Involve staff by offering regular updates. Reach out on a monthly basis and set-up giving platforms where colleagues can donate together.
Whether or not everyone participated, optimism and pride will ripple through your organisation.
5) Don’t just stick it on – Integrate giving!
When it comes to the physical and mental benefits of charitable giving, altruism is the name of the game. Invest the time and resources you need to develop a giving strategy that embodies who you are and integrates intuitively into the work and services you offer.
It’s only then that your corporate giving program will be accepted as an authentic commitment to the community. And it’s only then that your giving program will not only boost staff morale but create a healthier place to work.
Join the movement.
Don’t wait. Invest in your giving strategy and introduce the benefits of charitable giving into your workplace.