Giving During The Holiday Season

Dec 19, 2023 Holidays

Looking to do more this season? Explore ways to give back and contribute to your community.

Two young people holding a paper bag. They are smiling at each other. One of them is wearing rubber gloves.

The Giving USA 2023 Report highlighted the challenging economic circumstances of 2022 and after two years of record-breaking giving inspired by the pandemic, overall giving declined by 10.5% in 2022. Giving by individuals dropped even more by an astounding rate of 13.4%. With the holiday season upon us, it’s an excellent time to evaluate why we give.

Reasons & Motives For Giving

Emotional Giving

Let’s set the stage. You’re home on a Friday night watching your favorite sitcom, and suddenly there it is – the familiar sad song combined with images of mistreated animals. Now, instead of laughing, you’re tearing up and reaching for your computer or phone to make a donation.

Here’s another scenario: lunch is being catered at a work event today. You ask by who and discover it was sponsored as part of the kickoff to a charity campaign. You’ve already eaten the food, so now you feel obligated to give to the charity.

These campaigns are designed to provoke an emotional response. Emotions such as sadness, guilt, empathy, passion, and love are just a few that may motivate you to give.

Giving happens for many reasons, but for many, it’s in pursuit of a better life for the person or group you’re giving to. Plus, you feel good knowing you’ve helped others. Though the beneficiary of the donation may vary, the motivation to help is shared among the people that give.

Giving For “Healthy” Reasons

When the University of California – Berkeley studied giving, the research found that elderly individuals who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44% less likely to pass away over a five-year period. In a 2006 Johns Hopkins University study, it was found that giving improves physical health and longevity by reducing stress. In addition, the University of Tennessee reported lower blood pressure for givers compared to their peers who don’t donate.

Social Connection Of Giving

When individuals give, they become connected to the cause they’re supporting. In that respect, givers tend to be more socially conscious and feel a connection to the people they’ve helped. Of course, human connection can be complicated, but connected people generally want the best for each other.

More Than One Way To Give

Your Money

There are several ways to give financially, whether it’s giving to people collecting outside grocery stores, sponsoring a family or child in need, or buying extra items when you’re shopping to contribute to your local food pantry or toy drive.

If you find it easier to write a check or swipe your card to donate, make sure the organization you’re supporting has been thoroughly vetted. Research how much their CEO is paid, the employees’ payroll, how donations are spent, and their overall impact. All this research can factor into your decision to give and to whom those dollars are allocated.

Your Possessions

Many organizations keep a wish list of items they’re hoping to receive. These donation lists are usually on their website or may be made available by request. The wish lists usually include items in different price ranges. These lists may even include everyday items, so check with the nonprofit before throwing away items that could help their organization.

Your Time

If budget constraints are present, consider volunteering. For most organizations, volunteers are harder to find than donations. Why? Because a donation can be a one-and-done transaction, but volunteerism cuts into the most valuable human resource – time.

Volunteering reduces administrative costs and reserves resources for employees. Every task performed by a volunteer allows the staff to concentrate on using their specialized skills in areas that may otherwise be neglected.

Volunteering can create a connection and sense of gratitude that few other tasks can. Plus, the people met while volunteering are some of the most hard-working and dedicated people around. Although their mission may vary, people who choose to work for a nonprofit have a shared passion for improving the world in which they live.

Your Commitment

Ongoing donations are the lifeline of charitable and nonprofit organizations. It’s estimated that acquisition costs for new donors range between 50¢ to $1 for every new donor dollar. Additionally, only 23% of donors are attracted to give a second time. Ongoing donors reduce the need to spend time and money on fundraising campaigns, advertising, and events, allowing the staff to focus more on the actual work. After all, if the amount spent to attract donors detracts from accomplishing the organization’s mission, the people needing assistance will receive less help.


The winter holiday season is packed with events that need volunteers and donations. You may donate because of a passion you feel for a cause, you’re thinking of looming deadlines for tax-deductible gifts, or you may have some extra money to share. Whatever your motivations to donate may be, the organization you give to will be appreciative of your contribution. Whether it’s your time, money, or both, the staff at these charitable organizations and nonprofits understand the significance and sacrifice of your donation.

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