I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the effect of volunteering, philanthropy, and general do-gooding-ness on my own productivity. Amongst all of the greediness and power struggles of politicians and corporations (and individuals!), little beacons of light still manage to shine.
According to Giving USA, individuals give the most money, followed by foundations, then charitable bequests (usually made through a will), and then finally corporations. In 2015, individuals gave $264.58 billion, foundations gave $58.46 billion, charitable bequests gave $31.76 billion, and corporate giving only gave $18.45 billion. So yay for individuals and boo on corporations.
Independent Sector has reported that the estimated value of volunteer time in 2015 was $23.56 per hour, which is more than three times the current $7.25 federal minimum wage (don’t get me started on the minimum wage). This means your volunteer hours could go even further than your dollars. And there are thousands of ways to volunteer. In New York City, New York Cares has added a middle-person but taken the grunt work out for both organizations seeking volunteers and individuals and groups looking for opportunities.
I feel better when I volunteer and donate money to great causes. Most people do. Whether you do nice things because you’re a saint or you do nice things because it makes you feel good, it doesn’t matter – nice things still get done. When you feel better, you’re more productive, and good karma (if that’s your thing) is like a boomerang – it’s going to come back to you.
Volunteering, donating, and interacting with other nice people can also build your network, which is essential for achieving your goals. Forming solid, two-way connections means that the people you help are going to want to help you. So everyone wins.