Giving is good: The surprising benefits of spending on other people

It’s lovely to receive the perfect Christmas present – but it’s even nicer to be the one doing the giving. Spending your money on other people, and giving it away, can do more for your wellbeing than spending money on yourself (assuming you’re enjoying a reasonable standard of living).

So if you’re feeling a little irritated by the crowds at the shopping centre or the delivery charges for your online order, consider that the act of giving could be doing you a surprising amount of good.  

Generosity makes you happier

People who spend money on others report greater happiness; that’s the finding of a Harvard report on the benefits of giving. The most benefit came from spending that met one of three criteria:

  1. It was socially connected – does the gift benefit some you feel connected to?
  2. It made a difference – can you see where you’ve made a genuine positive difference with your donation,?
  3. It was freely given – did you choose who you give to, or where you donated? That was more satisfying for givers than if the decision being made on their behalf.

Giving can boost your overall health

Older adults who give more money and time to other people have better overall health, according to one study. The most altruistic participants had fewer sleeping disorders, lower blood pressure and better hearing. Overall, they had lower morbidity than those who gave less, even after controlling for income and other factors.

When people had close family ties, they tended to give more to family, and those with fewer family ties gave more time and money to charities – but both groups experienced better health than those who were less altruistic.

Ways to give this Christmas

Finding ways to give will help you have a happier Christmas, whether it’s to friends and family or those most in need.

Bored with the ‘secret Santa’ at your workplace or amongst the extended family? Instead, set a donation amount and let everyone give it to a charity of their choice. When you get together, each person can give a quick explanation of the organisation they chose. That’s much more likely to leave everyone feeling good than receiving a $15 gift that will go straight to landfill.

You might also notice an increasing number of businesses that no longer give their clients gifts, but instead donate to a charity of their choice. It’s an environmentally friendly, zero carbon emissions gift that works for any recipient.

Low on cash this year? Why not volunteer? Volunteering has a strong positive impact on people, because it builds social connections as well as giving back. If you really want to boost your festive mood, volunteering your time to help someone in your family, or at your local city mission, will probably benefit you at least as much as it does the recipient.

The tax credit is an extra incentive

That’s right, on top of all the warm fuzzies and health benefits you get from giving, donations to not-for-profit organisations can also qualify you for a tax credit. Any donation of $5 or more allows you to claim a tax credit of 33.33%, provided three conditions are met:

  • You donate to an approved organisation or charity (there are nearly 700)
  • Your donation doesn’t directly benefit you or your family
  • The donation isn’t part of a will or debt forgiveness.

You can find out more here, or chat with your accountant to make sure you’re claiming back the full credit for your donations. That means that for every $100 you donate, you get $33.33 back – but the charity gets the full benefit of the $100. This applies to personal and corporate donations, so it’s a nice extra incentive to donate this Christmas.

From the whole team at Zagga, here’s wishing you a fantastic Christmas – with plenty of giving in every direction – and a prosperous year in 2023.

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