A first-of-its-kind study to be published in the International Journal of Happiness and Development has discovered that though being charitable brings us happiness, the happiness gets multiplied if we help something we know and it results in a social bond.
The research team of Lara Aknin [Simon Fraser University, Canada] and her fellow researchers at University of British Columbia as well as Harvard Business School explored the effects of charity on our positive emotions. They conducted three studies of donations made for charity and the results show that giving money for charity brings the most happiness boost when that act of giving strengthens social ties. So we feel happiest when we give to a charity via a friend, relative or social connection rather than just making the monetary contribution anonymously.
The not-for-profit projects should heed this study because they rely on grants and donations heavily for running their operations. This could mean that they should focus on finding more socially connected ambassadors for their causes so that more donors would feel encouraged to make a contribution. If giving is such a high, one patron may donate more frequently in the quest for feeling happy more often. Since they feel happier donating through a friend, they may even donate more—the act of donating has brought them more happiness and hence they would be ready to donate more.
Previous research has already demonstrated the positive push on happiness when taking part in voluntary work and similar social initiatives.
"While additional factors other than social connection likely influence the happiness gained from pro-social spending our findings suggest that putting the social in pro-social is one way to transform good deeds into good feelings," the team concludes.
[Ed – This piece about charity reminds me of a lovely video shared here. Hope you enjoy it.]
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