If you’ve ever donated to a cause you care about you already know that you feel an amazing sense of pride afterwards, but have you ever wondered why? In a 2006 study, the National Institute of Health found that when people give to charities, it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection and hope, creating a feeling of warmth and positive emotions. More now than ever, we need to feel connected and hopeful about the future. When you donate money, you experience these amazing feelings because you know you are helping make your community a better place.
Often, your charitable act has a positive ripple effect as well. For example, when you donate cash or food to a food bank, you know that you have helped not just one, but several people who are experiencing food insecurity. Ideally, when some of these food bank recipients transition into a more stable financial situation, they will then donate to the same food bank that helped them through a difficult time. And the act of giving continues.
If you have the means to do so, consider donating to deserving charities in your community. Often you can donate directly to a local charity or non-profit organization. However, if you would like to make an online donation, Canada Helps makes it easy to support registered charities. Many agencies are serving more clients than usual and could really use your help. Some examples include:
- Food banks
- Homeless shelters
- Women's shelters
- Distress lines
- Mental health organizations
If you are not in a financial position to donate money, consider donating your time. Maybe you're missing your regular volunteer activities, or perhaps you have a little more time on your hands than usual and want to use it to help your community while also making yourself feel good. There are many charitable organizations that could use your help during this challenging time.
If you’re staying close to home, virtual volunteer opportunities also exist across Alberta. Visit Volunteer Alberta for some great resources and current opportunities. You could even consider volunteering for an organization you love that's located in a different town or city than you live. That's the great thing about virtual volunteer opportunities, your location doesn't limit your options.
Another thing worth considering is whether you work for a company with a volunteer program that allows you to volunteer a certain number of hours during your workday (lucky for you if you do!). Other organizations may have a “Dollar for Doers” program. Typically, these corporate programs will make a cash donation to your charity of choice depending on the number of hours you choose to volunteer. There are many different employee engagement programs out there. Look into your employer’s programs to see if your volunteer efforts can have an even broader reach and ripple effect.
So whether you have the means to make a financial donation, some extra time to volunteer (or both), think of ways you can have a positive impact on your community. In turn you’ll experience a positive impact on your life and well-being.
For other ways to help yourself and others get back to feeling good, check out the Servus Feel Good Movement™.