Page 21 the end of the day, benefiting oneself whilst benefiting others has to be a win-win situation

For some the benefits of helping and giving, however, extend far beyond a momentary warm glow or an added feather in one’s cap. Numerous studies have shown helping brings a surprising number of physical and mental health benefits, ranging from reduced stress and depression to better immune system functioning, a greater sense of life satisfaction, and in the case of corporate volunteering, helping increases employee morale and productivity. As a consequence, not only academics, but also representatives of spiritual belief systems argue that giving and helping is of critical survival value for the human species. So, why is everyone not giving? One obvious reason is, of course, that not everyone is able to, like that someone who is at the receiving end of charity donations.

the global map of giving. Interestingly, affluent countries like Norway and Sweden came in 25th and 37th respectively. Why is that you might wonder? Well, most likely because of the Scandinavian welfare state system – which is based on their populations paying on average 50% income tax or above – they do not have as widespread a tradition for giving to charities. One could argue that they are already giving, as they contribute to the collective good via their taxes. In contrast, the Anglo-American countries generally have a larger income gap between rich and poor, and a less finemeshed safety net stretched out at the bottom of society. Thus, survival of the fittest is by and large the predominant mantra here.

You might not be surprised by the fact that the populations of Anglo-American countries are some of the top givers in the world. According to the World Giving Index 2012 - the largest study into charitable behaviour across the globe, based on 500,000 interviews by Gallup and published by the Charities Aid Foundation - Australia is the number one charitable nation in the world measured by the three giving behaviours; the percentage of people who donate money to charity, volunteer their time, and help a stranger.

Thankfully there are numerous affluent people across the world who give because they can. Not everyone, but a significant group of billionaires have decided to share their wealth. Think high-profile people like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates; through the foundation The Giving Pledge they dedicate significant funds to “doing good”. The Giving Pledge is an effort to help address society’s most pressing problems by inviting the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to commit to giving more than half of their wealth to philanthropy or charitable causes either during their lifetime or after their death.

Ireland came in second, Canada third, New Zealand fourth and USA fifth. A bit further down the list, UK ranked number eight on

But do these people not get private benefits like positive PR and social prestige out of their giving? Probably.

Does that make their giving immoral? From a cosmic balance point of view, perhaps. Some may argue that if you give just enough to benefit yourself, you are not really giving at all. However, at the end of the day benefiting, oneself whilst benefiting others has to be a win-win situation. So go ahead and start giving. It is good for your soul - and it is tax deductible too!

Relevant links for more information: Charities Aid Foundation - World Giving Index 2012 publications/2012-publications/ world-giving-index-2012.aspx The Giving Pledge “Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of WarmGlow Giving” by James Andreoni 34133?uid=3738248&uid=2&uid=4& sid=21102366611007


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