Philanthropy is Good for Your Health!

Anecdotally, I think we all can agree that giving your time and resources can make you happy.  And in my 20+ years of working for environmental groups, I’ve also observed that environmental and conservation supporters live long lives, often well beyond life expectancy tables.  But there is actually science behind all of this.

I just completed an online University of California, Berkeley psychology course through the Greater Good Science Center – The Science of Happiness.  Specifically related to philanthropy, there is research that shows that giving one’s time or donating to one’s favorite causes can benefit you physically and mentally – and it even will positively impact your community.  A 2006 study by the National Institutes of Health found that when people give to charities, it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect.  Scientists also believe that altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain, producing the positive feeling known as the “helper’s high.”

In a 2003 study on elderly couples, researchers at the University of Michigan found that those individuals who provided practical help to friends, relatives, or neighbors, or gave emotional support to their spouses, had a lower risk of dying over a five-year period than those who didn’t.  One reason giving may improve physical health and longevity is that it helps decrease stress, which is associated with a variety of health problems.  In a 2006 joint study at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Tennessee, people who provided social support to others had lower blood pressure than participants who didn’t, suggesting a direct physiological benefit to those who give of themselves.

Giving also has been linked to the release of oxytocin, a hormone that induces feelings of warmth, euphoria, and connection to others.  Laboratory studies at Claremont Graduate University have found that a dose of oxytocin will cause people to give more generously and to feel more empathy towards others, with “symptoms” lasting up to two hours. And those people on an “oxytocin high” can potentially jumpstart a “virtuous circle, where one person’s generous behavior triggers another’s.”

These exchanges promote a sense of trust and cooperation that strengthens our ties to others—and research has shown that having positive social interactions is central to good mental and physical health. So when we give, we not only help the immediate recipient of our gift but we also spur a ripple effect of generosity through our community, 

So give and live happier and healthier!

With gratitude,

Audrey Yee


When you make the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy a beneficiary in your estate plan, your legacy helps make possible:

      Thousands of children and youth in environmental education programs

      New trails, bikeways, overlooks, and visitor centers

      Tens of thousands of volunteers engaging in park stewardship

      Restored habitat for endangered and threatened species

      Hundreds of thousands of native plants revitalizing ecosystems

      An infinitely expanding web of ecological knowledge

      And countless moments of wonder, from young people visiting a national park for the first time.

 

When you make a planned gift to the Conservancy, you become a member of the Silver Lupine Circle — a community of park lovers who, like you, want these national treasures protected and nurtured for generations to come. You join an extraordinary group of people — hikers and history buffs, beachcombers and triathletes, volunteers and  philanthropists, parents and grandparents, friends and neighbors — who care about these parks as much as you do.

 

Benefits of the Silver Lupine Circle include:

      A gift from the Conservancy

      Acknowledgement in the Conservancy’s annual report and Gateways newsletter

      Invitations to exclusive events and tours

      Regular correspondence sharing an insider’s view on park happenings

      The lifelong satisfaction of knowing your gift will protect wildlife, safeguard our cultural heritage, and enrich lives far into the future

 

We can help you arrange a convenient and tax-efficient way to give long-term support to the parks through your:

      Will

      Charitable trust

      Retirement plan assets

      Life insurance policies

 

To learn more, download our brochure Where Does Forever Begin? (pdf) or contact:

 

Audrey L. Yee, Esq.

Director of Planned Giving:

Phone: (415) 561-3016

ayee@parksconservancy.org