By Eve Anderson
October 18, 2012
In a world that is pretty much drowning in debt it is difficult to imagine why people donate money to charity, causes, individuals and general pleas for cash.
When people have so much going on in their own lives in terms of making ends meet and having enough money to survive the week, month or whatever it may be, the truth is that people still find the finances to give their last dime to a stranger than do nothing.
Such examples of the generosity of strangers are in the wake of terrible disasters and tragedies like the Boxing Day Tsunami and 9/11 one of the only ways that people felt they could help and show support was by donating money. When children go missing or are murdered often you will hear that a fund has subsequently been set up to raise money for a cause of some nature – this doesn’t bring the child in question back but people demonstrate their support through giving. This support is perhaps key to understanding what drives people to donate to others in need as it is human trait to help those who are struggling as a gesture that they aren’t alone in their crisis.
Donating money isn’t just restricted to the rich and famous either – those with very little spare cash still have the will to donate to charities or causes or individuals that really touch their values and belief systems.
Americans are a generous country which is demonstrated via a report by the Atlas of Giving stated that in 2011 Americans donated $347 billion which was a 7.5% rise from 2010. The company records and forecasts donations to charity and it observed that such giving was rising faster than the rate of the economy for 2011. Add to this that earlier this year it was announced that American student loan debt rose to over $1 trillion which is more than credit card, online loan, car debt, in fact it is above any other type of debt in the US apart from home mortgages. To think that people of such a young age are in such debt and yet up to 90% of the US population still gives to charitable causes on top of making loan repayments is astounding.
Ultimately Americans want to help others out and providing your cause is reputable then you are likely find support in kindred spirits out there.
Motivation behind donations
Research by charities into what motivates people to donate would have us believe that the decision making process isn’t a long one. Charities say that making a donation is a spontaneous action which would seem to indicate it comes from our deep seated desire from within to help as people trust their guts much more than other sorts of purchases.
In the wake of the internet and online payments making donations has never been easier, which really helps to facilitate people’s generosity. Cashless payment methods in particular are now much more commonplace and people are much savvier about conducting financial transactions online, which makes for a more conducive charitable environment all round.
What has also been observed is that people have a propensity to donate more to a single person, or the cause of a single person than to a group or population. One person’s story has the ability to resonate more with individuals and as such the cause of single suffering is something that human beings relate to more.
Whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist carrying out a random act of kindness will undoubtedly make you feel good. The spontaneity of making a donation to a cause that appeals to you will not have the same guilt repercussions as an impulse credit card purchase on yourself. In fact quite the opposite the effects of your generosity will really help someone to get one step closer to being out of a bad situation or help someone achieve something that will make a difference to their life or the lives of others close to them.
Donating really is a feel good activity and whilst for some it will leave you wishing that you could do even more often distance or practicalities prevent this so just be confident that you were able to do all you could or all that was asked.