Why do we call it “giving back”?

When our boys were young, one of their favorite “hobbies,” especially around the holidays, was “borrowing” each other’s toys. Even after all these years, I can still hear their voices shouting “GIVE IT BACK!” I think these memories are why I have mixed feelings when I hear people or organizations say they are committed to “giving back.”

To me, “giving back” implies the giver needs to return something that isn’t theirs. Clearly, JA and countless other nonprofits wouldn’t exist without the generosity of individuals and organizations that “give back.” But those organizations and individuals haven’t taken anything that wasn’t theirs to give – indeed, thanks to the beauty of free enterprise, they’ve earned success to give and benefit others. So, I’d like to shorten that phrase to just plain “giving.” Because I have yet to meet a person who feels happy about being indebted.

On the contrary, it’s a fact that givers are happier people than non-givers. According to the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey of 30,000 American households, people who gave money to charity were 43% more likely than non-givers to say they were “very happy” about their lives.

Similarly, volunteers were 42% more likely to be very happy than non-volunteers. It didn’t matter whether gifts of time went to their schools, animal shelters or a food bank, givers were far happier than non-givers.

And the real gift of giving is that it goes even deeper than happiness. It creates meaning.

Just sayin’… you’ve worked, you’ve produced and you’ve earned success. Your gifts of time, talent or treasure shouldn’t be about an obligation to “give back,” but rather a blessed opportunity to simply give because it makes you happy.

Happy and meaningful holidays to you all,

Robin Wise
President & CEO