Spirit of Giving

According to a report recently released  by Atlas of Giving1, after a stellar year of charitable donations in  2014, the outlook for this year is less than robust. In fact, U.S.-based  giving could decrease by as much as 3.2% for a variety of  reasons—including rising interest rates, a possible stock market  correction, and continuing decline in employment compensation. But just  because certain economic factors may have an impact on giving, this  doesn't mean that you should put off your own charitable efforts. You  might be surprised to learn that, ultimately, it might be you who reaps  some of the best rewards of your donation. Here are nine positive  effects of giving to charity.

1. Experience More Pleasure
In  research conducted by the National Institutes of Health, participants  who chose to donate a portion of $100 they were provided enjoyed  activated pleasure centers in the brain. Although this experiment was  controlled and scientific, it did show that donating money simply makes  you feel better, which is something we can all benefit from.

2. Help Others in Need
We  don't live in a perfect world, and there's never going to be a perfect  time to give—but there are always people out there in need of help.  Whether interest rates are rising, the economy is in the doldrums, or  even if you're experiencing financial difficulties of your own, the  reality is that when you donate your money, you help others who need it.

3. Get a Tax Deduction
If  you give to an IRS-approved charity, you can write off donations on  your tax return. Certain restrictions do apply, though. To learn more  about them, along with whether or not a particular charity has IRS  approval, check the IRS website or The Life You Can Save’s fact sheet  about tax deductibility. Donating your cash is a great way to reduce the  amount of money you send off to Uncle Sam, and for a good cause, to  boot.

4. Bring More Meaning to Your Life
When you donate money  to charity, you create opportunities to meet new people who believe in  the same causes that inspire you. That, and making a real impact on  those causes, can infuse your everyday life with more meaning. If you've  been stuck in a rut, whether personally or professionally, sometimes  the simple act of donating cash can do the trick and reinvigorate your  life.

5. Promote Generosity in Your Children
When your kids  see you donating money, they're much more likely to adopt a giving  mindset as they grow up. I write from personal experience. I've donated  money to a variety of charities over the years and have always made sure  to inform my eight-year-old son of my efforts. Last Christmas, when he  and I were shopping at a mall, he spotted a kiosk for a charity and  rather than spending some of his allotted money on Christmas gifts, he  asked if we could sponsor a hungry child overseas. We signed up then and  there. Do the same with your kids and you might see similar results.

6. Motivate Friends and Family
When  you let your friends and family know of your charitable donations, they  may find themselves more motivated to undertake their own efforts to  give. It takes a village to address issues such as world poverty,  scientific advancement, and early childhood education. Stoking passions  in the folks around you is a very positive and tangible effect of your  own giving.

7. Realize that Every Little Bit Helps
You don't  need $10,000 to make a difference in someone's life. In developing  countries, even just a few U.S. dollars could result in a week's worth  of meals for a starving child, much-needed medical attention, and even  improved schooling. Don't just think of your cash donation from an  American economic perspective. Often that money can go a lot  further elsewhere in the world.

8. Improve Personal Money Management
If  you set a scheduled $100 donation each month for a particular charity,  that can motivate you to be more attentive to your own finances in an  effort to ensure you don't default or fall behind in your monthly  donations. Anything that gets you to pay closer attention to your bank  account is a good thing—especially when it helps those in need.

9. Give, If You Can't Volunteer
This  might not necessarily be a positive effect of charitable giving, but if  you're too busy to volunteer or otherwise donate your time, giving  money is the perfect workaround. Never think that you can't improve  someone's life or the world itself if your personal or professional  schedule won't allow the time. Writing out a check is a simple way to  show you're willing to help others in any way you can.

If you're  not sure where to donate your cash, check out The Life You Can Save’s  list of recommended charities. With a focus on developing countries and  those living in extreme poverty, The Life You Can Save recommends some  of the best charities to send your money to in order to have the most  impact. Plus, almost all of The Life You Can Save’s recommended  charities are eligible for personal tax deductions. Alternatively, you  can make a donation directly to The Life You Can Save, which helps its  efforts to improve the lives of those in need. Understanding the  positive effects of donating money to charity is important—just make  sure you have the right people in your corner as you get started.Type  your paragraph here.