Sunday, July 19, 2009

Giving's Good

Giving is Good

A Roman Catholic economist wrote an article for BYU magazine entitled: ‘Why Giving Matters’.

I found the data he gathered really interesting.

He started his quest to challenge Rockefeller’s belief that he ‘had money because he was charged with helping others. He honestly believed that if he stopped fiving his money in the right way then God would take his money away.' He could not believe this theory, and to prove it he started to gather data.

Here are some of his stats:

In 2006 Americans gave almost 300 billion to charity. (More than the entire national income in Sweden.)

75% of America’s families give every year.

55% volunteer their time (there are a myriad of other ways that are not captured on data.)

The most charitabal state in the US—Utah. Which gave approximately twice as much as the second leading state.

He continues: “there is a perception out there that Americans are stingy” if you listen to politicians… Former President Jimmy Carter said that we are ‘indifferent’ to the suffering of the poor around the world.’”.

“Theirs is a different world than ours. And we don’t really care about what happens to them.” (16th Annual Nobel Peace prize Form, Feb. 21, 2004, St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minn.)

Arthur states: “..the data says that Jimmy Carter is wrong.” !

“Americans give per capita compared to citizens in other countries of the world, we find that the average American citizen gives away three-and-a-half times as much money each year as the average French citizen, seven times as much as the average German, and 14 times as much as the average Italian.”

As an economist, Art wanted to know why.

Wanting to ‘prove’ Rockefeller wrong by showing that you have to have the money before we give it away.

Again the data confirmed it not true.

From a Harvard University study with 30k families across the states looking at people’s service behaviour and charitablity giving he found that: “when people get richer, they tend to give more money away.”

And the real kicker he found was that the “counterintuity of the concept meant that folks that gave away a lot prospered even more.

Broken down to lay man terms he gives this example:

“Two families earn the same, same race, same amount of kids same level of education, everything is the same.. except on family gives $100 more to charity than the 2nd family.
..the giving family will earn on average $345 more in income than the non-giving family- and that’s statictically attributable to the gift.”

This “perplexed” him and he ‘threw the data out’. He wanted to prove the Rock feller that it was wrong. But with different data he found the same results!

He found that people who volunteer do better financially. He even ran the number on blood donations. (My Dad does this religiously and has done for years. I give blood but it always ends up in a lab- but maybe I am benefitting man kind!?)

“The average American family between 1954 and 2004 (adjusted for inflation) a 150 % increase in real purchasing power. Family charitable giving also increased over the same period on average by 190% What this says is that we’re getting more prosperous in this country, and we’re getting even more generous over time.” (bold face added)

Finally he believed that Carter was wrong.

What that means is that “when our country gets richer, people give more away. And as we give more away, that translates into economic growth for our country.

Another example on the country level:

“If we increase our private donations by just 1% , which is about 2 billion a year, that would translate into a gross domestic product of about 39 billion new dollars. If I can take your 2 billion in charity and it into 39 billion, then suddenly charitable giving is not just a great investment for you. It’s also patriotic act for our country because in translates into jobs, growth, opportunity and tax revenues.” (bold face added)

And the result: Happy people.

This sent Art to a charitable psychology collegue of his. He told him: “It’s like the hand of God or something on the economy, and I can’t believe it’s true.”

“Why not? ..You’re a Christian aren’t you?” the collegue asked.

The shock wore off and he sat and listened to the chastizment of his profession always worrying about money. “Money is boring” he stated. “We worry about something that people really care about- the currency by which we really spend our days- that is happiness.”

Successes main ingredient? Happiness.

I have a friend that ran a marathon that stated she heard that they told her to smile while running. So into the 21st mile there she is, touting a cheerleading attitude with her great big smile. It helped her she said. She could tell it made a difference.

“Studies show that when people give, it lowers their levels of stress. Through out our lives if we can find ways to relax, we will profit from it.”

This has become hugely apparent in the news lately.. A musician entertained himself to death.

We balk at this and yet how many excesses in our own lives are killing us? Is it with food, work, TV, sex, salt, texting, etc. that is keeping us from really looking outward and keeping us searching for instant gratification instead of allowing it to naturally hit us.

In a recent article on Jackson the author stated that the musician said after a show he was floating. He felt like he had reached the Zenith of a moment. I had to look up this word even though we had a TV named after it back when Jackson started on the thrill ride. Then we as Americans kept feeding the juke box so to say, and pretty much painted Mike into a corner clapping, crying, cheering the whole while. What part of excess do we play in his life? I wonder what would happen if folks just let it alone. Quite buying the magazines. Quite putting the money into the slot machine and walked away. Would they be able to lead normal lives? Would we?

Back to Brooks’ words.. he reported on another study where the outcome was that those who gave became chosen as leaders.

“Many other studies show that givers have better health, that givers are better citizens they are healthier, happier people- around the world.”

“The number one characteristic of those who give in this county is that they practice a faith. Of people who attend worship services every week, 91% give to charity each year. Of people who don’: 66%”

“We’ve been taught what is right, and we are reaping the reward.”

He wraps it up by saying we need to inspire others to give. How? By giving. Then he summarized the myths of giving 1) that it makes us poor, 2) people are naturally selfish and 3) giving is a luxury.

The data proved that each point was bogus.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive