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A few weeks ago, I came across a documentary exploring the truth behind acts of charity. The presenters inquired into the veracity of assertions by religious leaders who urged their congregations to ‘plant a seed.’

Giving is a blessing

Blessed is the hand that giveth.

The assertion goes that if one habitually donates a portion of his earnings to the less fortunate or to a charitable cause, they will in due course benefit reciprocally. I sought to ascertain the credibility of this postulate and shed light on diverse claims advanced by purported beneficiaries of this philosophy. 

My research led me to business founders, industry experts, religious leaders, parents, school teachers, and political leaders. The results of my detailed inquiries were as surprising as they were confounding. I have summarized the conclusions of my study below, but an exhaustive report is available upon request.

Steve Down, one of the greatest proponents of this principle, writes, “Abundance means that there is enough to meet all your wants and needs while there is still enough to meet the needs of all of God’s children. It means that you can give generously to meet the needs of others without becoming needy yourself. The more you give, the more you receive.” 

These are weighty assertions by one who must have had an experiential grounding in the practice of charity. “Do not be limited by the limit of your knowledge,” Steve advises, “never limit the infinite based on your finite knowledge and limited experience.”

According to The Bible, one should not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that, some have entertained angels without knowing it. In the book of Luke 6:38, the Bible says, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” 

So is there any practical evidence of bountiful results garnered by people who extend generosity to those around them? Let’s see.

The Goat Foundation endeavours in philanthropy bear witness to the practical demonstration of Cause Capitalism

The Goat Foundation’s endeavors in philanthropy bear witness to the practical demonstration of Cause Capitalism

According to a 2008 study by Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton and colleagues, giving money to someone else lifted participants’ happiness more than spending it on themselves. In a 2006 study, Jorge Moll and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health found that when people give to charities, it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect.

Doug Oman of the University of California, Berkeley, found that the elderly who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44 percent less likely to die over five years than were non-volunteers.  Even after controlling for their age, exercise habits, general health, and unhealthy habits like smoking, his research suggests that giving may improve physical health and longevity because it decreases stress, which is associated with many health problems.

Generosity predisposes one to further acts of reciprocal giving. Lyubomirsky, in her book The How of Happiness, says, “Being kind and generous leads you to perceive others more positively and more charitably.” Selfless giving, she asserts, “fosters a heightened sense of interdependence and cooperation in your social community.” Researcher John Cacioppo writes in his book Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, “The more extensive the reciprocal altruism born of social connection, the greater the advance toward health, wealth, and happiness.”

Giving evokes gratitude that, according to researchers, is integral to happiness, health, and social bonds. A 2020 Research Project by Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough on Gratitude, and Thankfulness, found that teaching college students to “count their blessings” and cultivate gratitude caused them to exercise more, be more optimistic, and feel better about their lives overall.

The Principle of abundance

Giving is contagious as generosity not only helps the immediate recipient of our gift. We also spur a ripple effect of generosity through our community. A study by James Fowler of the University of California, San Diego, and Nicholas Christakis of Harvard, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, shows that altruism could spread by three degrees—from person to person to person. “As a result,” they write, “each person in a network can influence dozens or even hundreds of people, some of whom he or she does not know and has not met.”

These are a section of the thousands of testimonies I came across while investigating the art of giving. It appears that generosity generates a positive boomerang effect on the giver. The benefits will be social, psychological, spiritual, or financial and may manifest immediately, in the short or long term. The underlying message is to give freely without expecting something in return. Giving need not be purely monetary, you can share your time, knowledge, expertise, or physical space. 

According to Steve Down, the most truly generous persons are those who give silently without hope of praise or reward. In his book, The Mountain, The Man, and The Compass, he writes, “Give freely without expecting just as the sun gives freely. Experience the thrill in the joy of giving.” The giver must not contend with how and when their acts of generosity will bring forth rewards, but instead, as Steve says, you have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. 

4 replies
  1. www.sfgate.com
    www.sfgate.com says:

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    • Thomas Kagwa
      Thomas Kagwa says:

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