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Philanthropy Part 3: Giving to Receive?


  I am overjoyed when I hear someone say, “The more I give, the more I seem to receive.”  Does this always happen? Is there a direct correlation between giving and receiving? Can this become a motivation for giving? This is what we will discuss in this blog… How does giving affect us?

  In the Old Testament Book of Malachi, God through the prophet Malachi admonishes the people of Israel for “robbing” Him that is, not giving their tithe (giving 10%) and offerings.  If they return to this practice His promise is to open for them “the windows of heaven and pour out such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.” Certainly even God implies that the very act of giving back to Him will result in His blessings.

  It seems that giving for many people (if they give at all) is the predicated on the reverse principle. That is, the more I receive, the more I will give.” Arthur Brooks, the author of the book Gross National Happiness, took the challenge to investigate the dynamics of giving.  He, like most of us, started with the assumption that people who make more money tend to give more money away.  What surprised him in his studies is that he found the reverse to be true. That is, the more we give away, the more we seem to make. Sounds a bit like Malachi!

  How does this work?  Briefly, something like this… The more we give or volunteer, the happier we are. The happier we are, the harder and better we work. The harder and better we work, the more money we tend to make. To quote Brooks,

“Charitable giving and volunteering are tremendously pleasurable. They also empower givers, making them feel less like victims, and give people a lot of meaning in their lives. I have talked to clinical psychologists who actually prescribe volunteer work to their patients, with amazing results. Studies also show that givers are admired and elevated to positions of influence and authority. It is hardly surprising, given all the evidence, that givers enjoy (on average) higher happiness and prosperity than non-givers do. In fact, my research leads me to the belief that the single best self-help strategy is to serve others.”

    It seems that not only the Bible, but even modern scientific research leads us to this conclusion; God has wired us to give! Being created in His image and likeness among other things means that when we give we are and become more like Him! The act of giving and doing for others actually change our brain chemistry and give us joy.  Then why do more people not give?  Why do some people remain stingy, not giving anything away to help others?  I have no answer. Everything I read would point to the opposite.

    In the field of charitable fundraising, we often hear that for someone to offer a large gift it takes great time, cultivation, spiritual maturity, etc. At a recent Mayo seminar on charitable giving, the speaker (a major gift development officer, who has asked people literally for millions of dollars) said something very shocking yet consistent with what we are discussing. He found that the very act of giving is THE life changing event for most donors. The people who have offered major gifts to Mayo have started to live a life with more meaning and depth than before.

    There are so many wonderful causes that we can choose to give to in this world, I hope that FOCUS North America is one that you choose.  However, sometimes I think we should address the more basic issue - giving!  Why do it and what are the results of it for me?  How will giving change me…

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