“Philanthropy” is defined as goodwill toward other people. That includes monetary gifts, volunteering, and other humanitarian acts. Any individual or organization (like a business) can be philanthropic, though you’ll often see the term applied to corporations or wealthy people who dedicate a lot of energy and money to charitable causes. Why does philanthropy matter? Here are ten reasons:
#1. Philanthropy strengthens community
We’re all “connected” now thanks to technologies like the internet, but in other ways, we’ve never been more disconnected. For many people, the days of a tight-knit community seem like an eternity ago. Philanthropy fuels a person or organization’s involvement in their community. Whether it’s giving time or money, philanthropy brings people together to support a cause that’s bigger than themselves. In a society where giving freely is common, there’s a much stronger unity and sense of belonging.
#2. Philanthropy is contagious
Philanthropy is important because it has a snowball effect. When an individual or organization contributes to a cause, others around them take notice. Philanthropists often wield considerable influence in their communities. When they use that influence for good, it has a significant impact. Everyone is searching for meaning. When they see it can be found in philanthropy, they’ll try it for themselves.
#3. Philanthropy helps you network
Society is built from networks. Whether personal or work-oriented, networks are very important for success and happiness. Philanthropy lets you connect with like-minded individuals or organizations and expand your network. This is a mutually-beneficial system where people rely on each other and grow together.
#4. Philanthropy benefits mental health
Philanthropy is about looking outside yourself and helping others. For most people, this fosters a strong sense of personal fulfillment. People who feel like they have a purpose and are making a positive impact on the world tend to have better emotional health. Research shows that generosity can reduce stress and symptoms of depression. When volunteering with others, philanthropy can also reduce a person’s loneliness.
#5. Philanthropy benefits physical health, as well
Philanthropy’s benefits extend beyond improved mental health. Stress manifests itself physically as headaches, high blood pressure, and even a weakened immune system. With less stress, your physical health can turn a corner. Research from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Tennessee shows that charitable givers have lower blood pressure. Studies also show a link between selflessness and a longer life span.
#6. Philanthropy supports underfunded causes
Philanthropy is important to society because governments can’t address the needs of all causes. Frequently, certain government budgets get slashed because of politics or a need to shift the money elsewhere. This can leave gaps in areas where support is needed. Philanthropic individuals and businesses help fill in the gaps by supporting causes and organizations that don’t use government funding. Without philanthropy, many needs in society would go unmet.
#7. Philanthropy is good for business
Philanthropy has advantages for businesses. In today’s world, consumers care a lot about what a business is doing to improve the world. Research shows that people are more likely to buy from companies that support charities and causes they care about. When their values align, these customers are also more likely to pay more for products and services. With philanthropic actions, a company has the opportunity to make a positive impact and build a loyal fan base.
#8. Philanthropy attracts new employees
Customers aren’t the only ones interested in philanthropic organizations. Job hunters today are also interested in companies that are committed to goodwill. Often, it could be the deciding factor when a talented employee is deciding between jobs. Organizations that want to attract the coming generations should prioritize philanthropy. That will make the business world a better place.
#9. Philanthropy improves employee morale
Studies show that when employees feel like their work is meaningful, they are happier. For many, this means a career switch that puts them at an NGO. Many employees say they plan on never leaving the nonprofit sector, even though the pay is usually lower than what they would receive elsewhere. For other businesses (that aren’t NGOs), facilitating philanthropic opportunities can improve employee morale. Most people want to be part of a company that puts good out into the world. Knowing their company is sponsoring programs, supporting causes, and providing volunteer opportunities will increase their job satisfaction.
#10. Philanthropy helps you learn more about the world
A philanthropic mindset involves more than just throwing money at any cause or organization asking for it. People who are truly engaged with philanthropy are committed to learning more about the world and experiencing new things. Through volunteering and research, causes become more personal and real. This broadens a person’s perspective, sharpens their empathy, and fuels their passion.