Friday, April 13, 2007

The joy of giving

The great charitable-giving boom we're in nowadays has caught the attention of neurological researchers. Several studies have concluded that the act of giving (either in money or in volunteerism) makes people feel good at a really primal level.

Logical questions include both why and how that would be the case. Taking the broad evolutionary view, some researchers have argued that altruistic behavior is a positive for natural selection at a group level as distinct from Darwinian individualism. But homo sapiens is the only species which practices altruism outside its own genetic relatives -- is that a cultural adaptation or does it have a long-term natural-selection payoff? Creationists have taken to arguing that widespread human charity cannot be explained in Darwinian terms and hence represents a flaw in the science that they hate so much. Researchers more interested in the scientific method are actively exploring several hypotheses on the issue.

On the second part (how exactly are we wired to enjoy being charitable?), some researchers have concluded that it stimulates the same part of our gray matter which drives our gut-level interest in things like food, drugs and sex. (The joy of giving, indeed...say sweetheart is that a charitable remainder trust in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?) This reminds me of a development director I once worked with who grumbled when another staffer referred to a particular individual-donor solicitation idea as "sexy"; turns out he was just accurately "following the donors"!

1 comment:

maygan said...

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You can help a child while promoting your own brand. Forte Promotions, a promotional products company, is offering to give a charitable gift of your choice for every $500 that you purchase. Three charities have been chosen to receive the donations:

Toys for Tots primary goal is to deliver, through a charming new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to needy youngsters. A Teddy Bear will be given on your behalf.

Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery works in partnership with parents in crisis and the community to strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect. A toddler or youth sweatshirt will be given on your behalf.

Simpson Housing Services provides shelter and affordable housing with support services to homeless men, women and children and assists individuals and families in their effort to improve their life situations. A fleece blanket will be given on your behalf.

You can participate in this endeavor by contacting or calling 877-997-7799 for your promotional needs ranging from executive gifts to imprinted shirts, calendars, and pens.