Why give? It’s a question we ask ourselves from time to time. Sometimes, we ask it out loud; other times, it’s something we ponder without giving voice to our question. Sometimes, we don’t really think about it at all. Giving to a particular group or cause is automatic.
We each could cite various motivations for our generosity, but whether it’s for our community or our university, whether it’s $50 or $500,000, it turns out we’re more alike than different in why we give.
David Goldman, J.D., D.O., ’91, medical director for The Goldman Group, attorney, psychiatrist, and professor of Neurobehavioral Sciences and Medical Jurisprudence/Medical Ethics at ATSU-KCOM, says there are six basic reasons that make us open our hearts – and checkbooks – to certain organizations:
Belonging. “Many individuals feel a sense of belonging, a sense of identity, when they make charitable contributions. It provides the contributor a feeling of being a part of a group.”
Religion. “All faiths have at their core the concept of lifting the fallen and healing the sick; all faiths address the concept of charity, and providing for others.”
Family. “The family and the culture from which we come influence our feelings of charity. If our family practices being charitable, we learn to be charitable; if our family values being charitable, we develop a sense of responsibility to contribute.”
Forgiveness. “For some, giving serves as a means of self-cleansing, releasing feelings of guilt, and seeking forgiveness. The act of giving provides a feeling of ethical and moral rejuvenation.”
Value. “Giving value to an organization offers us an internal feeling of self-value. We feel better about ourselves. By giving value to others, we receive value in return.”
Gratitude. “People often give as a means of expressing gratitude and appreciation for success achieved in life. They perceive the organization as having provided them the opportunity to reach farther, climb higher, and see farther. Giving back shows appreciation for benefits received in our lives; our charitable contribution is a method for making that path available for others to follow.”
Regardless of the reason for our contribution, “doing charitable work is important,” Dr. Goldman says. “Our good deeds have a way of benefiting not only the recipient and the giver, but our charitable gifts also benefit the community as a whole.”