Do you sometimes feel that you would like to make a difference but don’t know how? Do you sometimes wonder if what you give, whether that be time, money or expertise will pay off in paying it forward?
When money is tight and people are cynical about giving money to big charities, it can feel hard to give or that your giving will make a difference. Yet, giving is in your nature.
Giving is in Your Nature
Studies show that altruism is hard-wired into the human psyche.
Neuroscience studies show that when you give to others, it releases feel-good hormones into your bodies and the atmosphere around you. It’s one of the reasons why giving can be catchy. When you see others give, you are more likely to give. However, sometimes you don’t want to give, even to really worthy causes.
Why You Don’t Give
Author and researcher Peter Singer identified 6 reasons why people don’t give in his book The Life You Can Save: How to do your part to end world poverty (2010)
- People don’t like to give to strangers. If you want people to give, the bottom line is you need to provide them with stories about people they can identify with.
- People tend to give more to causes closest to home. It’s that ole outa sight outa mind mentality. If it is affecting you, you’re more likely to want to throw in some support.
- A sense of futility. If you feel your giving won’t make an impact or won’t save everyone (which it rarely will) then it’s easy to feel a sense of futility about your giving impact.
- The assumption that someone else will take care of it. Have you ever seen a problem like a burst pipe or faulty air-conditioner in a shopping centre or street and thought, “Oh I bet someone else has already reported that”? You’re not alone. But what if everyone did that?
- A sense of fairness. If you give but feel others aren’t doing their part, it can feel like you alone are carrying the load or that others are taking advantage of your good nature.
- Being more wealthy. Ironically, the more people have the less they give. People with money can feel like they are constantly bombarded with giving requests or they sometimes will simply pay for what they need and feel less inclination to share.
Ways You Can Pay It Forward
All that aside, you can make a difference in many many ways. You don’t necessarily have to give to a large organisation. Here are a few other ideas. Support someone on kickstarter, support your local sports team, sponsor a child who has been pulled from the sex trade, volunteer, buy a tree, leave a tip when you don’t have to, walk instead of drive, catch a bus or train instead of drive, clean out your pantry and donate the stuff you don’t want to a local food charity, go through your closets and donate the clothes you don’t wear anymore to a charity shop. Support a local arts event or performance by buying a ticket, buy an original painting to support an artist you love, buy goods from a social enterprise, volunteer for meals on wheels… the list is truly endless.
What one small thing can you do today to make a difference? Pick something from the list above or write down your own ideas and share what you did with me on Facebook.