Much of someone's giving patterns are based on personal experience. Growing up without the basics may present an inclination to give to the Salvation Army or Boys & Girls Club later in life.
As we move through this joyous and mystical season, there are numerous opportunities to help improve the lives of those around us. Our United Way campaign is nearing completion, the Salvation Army is continuing their fundraising campaign, and there are others too numerous to mention here.
One may wonder why people, particularly Americans, are so generous.
Recent evidence shows it just feels good to give. Studies by the National Intitute of Health through Magnetic Resonace Images revealed a "warm glow" at a biological level when people contribute to a cause. It hints at evidence that shows altruism isn't only sacrificial but also beneficial to overall health.
Faith may be a significant factor, as many of the world's religions have charity and giving as core principles. Many identify specific amounts, as in tithing a percentage of income.
But much of someone's giving patterns, especially Americans, are based on personal experience. Growing up without the basics may present an inclination to give to the Salvation Army or Boys & Girls Club later in life. Having a family member survive childhood cancer is a strong motivation to support Children's Hospital. Living through a hurricane would likely induce someone to contribute to the Red Cross.
Conversely, some find a practical perspective in donating to lower their tax burden. This opportunity varies with tax laws changes, but is a strong incentive when someone would prefer to personally direct where their dollars go to work on the community.
People wanting to make a "bigger" difference than they could make on their own have traditionally given to their local United Way, often through work, though this is changing. They trust that their gift is helping a broad spectrum of people because Untied Way identifies need and measures results of programs funded, and investing in a tested broad spectrum of services is appealing.
Recently, and with the advent of social media, specific initiatives that provide measured improvement are drawing significant interest. Givers, particularly younger ones, want to see tangible results of their gift. The mission of the Community Partnership for Children, for instance, is to make sure that children are safe, healthy and ready for school. The United Way is building a community-wide data-sharing system that will help provide quantitative results for success.
Giving can also be done to align with a person or issue. Political contributions are done to try and help move the agenda that aligns with the contributor. Black tie galas can achieve the same goal, and allows the contributor to mingle with those of a similar perspective. Contributors also donate to causes that a favorite celebrity of theirs may champion.
Whatever the reason, and on behalf of all of the quality nonprofit organizations that make life better here , I would like to thank all of the generous people of Brown County for their bountiful contributions again this year. We truly are blessed to live here.
Happy New Year
Gregg A. Hetue, president and CEO, Brown County United Way