Park: Why people give

Everyone has a Why – the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you to do what you do.”

This quote from Simon Sinek, author of the book Start with Why, is what determines how the majority of people choose to give gifts to the charities they do … When it comes to giving, most people listen to their heart and not their head. It is inspiration or belief in a cause that sparks the gift.

It fills an unfulfilled need in the donor – a person who chooses to give a gift to a charity.

Knowing this, there are usually three reasons why a donor gives:

1. According to the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy, the top reason people give health-care gifts is excellent patient care.

They have had a personal experience themselves or through someone close that relates to the charity’s cause. Giving often starts with a very personal story. The more personal the experience is for the donor, the more they identify with the charity and its cause.

2. Secondly, the donor may not have had a personal experience but nonetheless believes in a charity’s cause. Examples of this include animal lovers who donate to local shelters, community minded citizens who donate to larger agencies affecting a broader demographic, or in the case of the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation, donors who want to receive the best health care possible should they need it for themselves, loved ones or friends.

3. Donors give because their family has been involved with the charity, or their peers are involved. Our foundation has a history of three generations of donors; this family believes so strongly in our cause that they have made it a family tradition. From grandparents, to children, to grandchildren.

Peers can also be a very strong influencer for donors. If your group of friends is involved in a charity, chances are good they will ask you to be involved in some way. For a lot of people it starts out with working as a volunteer, donating time. This then leads to wanting to give in other impactful ways such as donating to help the charity achieve its goal.

This impact a donor makes is an important piece to recognize. There are many scientific studies that show gratitude linked to a donation has significant health benefits. In 2008, Harvard Business School did a study that showed spending money on others causes more happiness than spending on oneself.

In 2010 Robert Emmons provided evidence that gratitude provides the following benefits:


l Stronger immune systems

l Less bothered by aches and pains

l Lower blood pressure

l Exercise more and take better care of their health

l Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking


l Higher levels of positive emotions

l More alert, alive, and awake

l More joy and pleasure

l More optimism and happiness


l More helpful, generous, and compassionate

l More forgiving

l More outgoing

l Feel less lonely and isolated.

The scientific evidence that is emerging from the benefits of gratitude and giving leading to increases in happiness is now too overwhelming to ignore. Not only are donors helping others but they are helping themselves as well! A true win/win situation.

Having said that, now is the perfect time to go out and find your why: support your charity and start making an impact today.

Iaian Park is the executive director of the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation.

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