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As we approach Thanksgiving, it’s the perfect time to not only give thanks for everything you have, but to think about giving back.

The United States Census Bureau estimated in 2015 that over 43 million Americans were living in poverty. And when you look further afield, the numbers are even more shocking. According to dosomething.org, more than 3 billion people – half of the world’s population – live on less than $2.50 a day, and more than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty at less than $1.25 per day.

That’s a lot of people surviving on a whole lot less than we’re lucky to have. What better way to show gratitude for everything you have than giving to those who need it most?

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT

For many of the most needy in our communities, and indeed the world, charities are not just a helping hand – they are a lifeline. Without the assistance of charities, from small nonprofits through to large-scale organizations, many of our fellow humans simply wouldn’t make it. The same goes for animals and the environment. The destruction of entire species and habitats would become more prevalent without the intervention of the many nonprofits fighting to save them.

Put simply, without the donations of people like you, these people, animals and ecosystems would die.

There are charities working to improve the quality of life for many across the planet, from the simple act of supplying clean water to building livelihoods and providing education, or in the case of animals, providing shelter, food and adoption services. It seems like there’s no end to the good that is waiting to be done across the world, and there truly isn’t. Whatever the cause, there are so many worthy charities out there that need your help.

THE BENEFITS FOR YOU

When you carefully choose the right charity to support, you are always apprised of the outcomes for the beneficiaries. But you might be surprised to learn that the recipients aren’t the only ones that benefit from your charitable giving. Some of the best rewards are often enjoyed by the person who does the giving. Here are just a few of the ways that donating can have a positive effect on your personal life.

You’ll Be Happier

According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Oregon, donating money makes you feel happier. The study utilized functional magnetic resonance imaging to study the activity of specific regions in the brain to see what happened when participants chose to donate   money. Each participant was given $100, and those who donated a portion of the money they received experienced activated pleasure centers in the brain – just like the activation seen when receiving money. So, giving money can have the same positive effect on your mood as getting it.

Then there’s the happiness that comes from connectivity to your family and community, especially if you give to a cause that has affected you or your loved ones. The positive feelings associated with connectedness and doing something to help those you love can have a very powerful effect on your personal life and outlook. 

Become An Inspiration To Others

Sharing your philanthropic activities with family and friends can motivate them to bring more charity into their own lives. This not only helps more charitable organizations, but also helps more people experience the joy and personal satisfaction of giving. Your actions will also serve as a positive role model for children and young people, helping to impress the importance of generosity and charity for others from an early age.

Make Life More Meaningful

When you work to improve the lives of others, you bring a whole new dimension of meaning to your personal life. Seeing the positive outcomes from your donations can have an incredible impact on your sense of purpose and place in the world.

A Networking Tool

There can also be a professional benefit to getting involved with a charity. Aligning yourself with a nonprofit can help you meet like minded people that may become helpful in both your business and personal life.

You’ll Get A Tax Deduction

Yes, there is also a fiscal benefit to giving. Donations to nonprofit organizations are tax deductible, so not only are you doing good, but you’re lowering your taxable income at the same time. Now that’s a two-for-one benefit.

WAYS TO GIVE

Donate Money

Cash is one of the most effective ways to help charities. It might seem like the least personal, but it is the number one thing that can help nonprofit causes be the most effective. Of course, you need to do your research before giving to a charity to ensure that your hard-earned dollars are working just as hard to help the causes you care about. It also pays to speak to your employer about the charities they work with or take advantage of special charity events where corporations match the charitable contributions given by the public. Giving as part of a gift matching program can often double your donation amount, thereby multiplying the impact of your charitable gift.

Give Your Time

Giving to charity doesn’t always have to be a fiscal donation. Volunteering can be just as valuable as a monetary gift. Although many charities need money more than volunteers, if you can’t give money, giving of your time or your talents is a great alternative that is sometimes even more valuable than cash.

Are you a lawyer? Do some charitable pro-bono work. Doctor? Run some free clinics or consider joining Doctors Without Borders. In advertising? Donate your services to a nonprofit awareness campaign.

And for those who don’t think they have specific skills that would benefit a charity, simply give your time. Soup kitchens need people to cook and serve meals. Shelters need people to help manage operations or simply provide a shoulder to cry on. Dogs in animal shelters need their cages cleaned and someone to walk them. There are so many ways you can give of your time and your talents, regardless of your professional life.

As we reflect on all of the things we’re grateful for, for all that we have, let’s not forget those less fortunate than us that need our help. Think about all the good you can do – for others, for your friends and family, and for yourself – simply by becoming more charitable.

Happy Thanksgiving.