I am the executive director of Hinsdale Humane Society, which cares for homeless pets until we can find them a new home. A large part of my job is to solicit financial support from individuals and corporations so we can fulfill our mission. Regardless of the mission you support, charitable giving should be viewed as more than just a gift or a financial transaction to lower our taxes. Supporting a charity should be viewed as an investment in ourselves and our community.
Why do charitable organizations exist? The answer is much more involved than a simple one line answer, but in essence, they exist to fill a need that is not being met by our free market society. In other words, there is not enough, if any, financial gain in the services offered by charities to warrant a for profit company entering the market. A for profit company exchanges money for a product or service that is wanted by the customer. For non profit organizations, the customer is not the person giving the money, but instead, the customer is the person/animal/environment which needs the services provided by the charity yet can not pay for it themselves. That is why the donation is called a “gift”, because, just as with birthday presents, the giver is not getting anything in return, someone else is. But is that a true statement?
When I was growing up there wasn’t much worse than having to go shopping. I would rather have to eat all my vegetables than spend one second in a department store, except when I was getting a present for my family. I loved to shop for Christmas and birthday presents, not because the shopping experience was any different, but because the outcome was vastly different than my normal excursions to the mall.
Watching my sisters open their gifts was so much more satisfying than opening my own. For the longest time I thought I was a really strange kid. It turns out that I was more normal than I thought. How many times have your heard people tell you how they like giving gifts more than getting them? I am guessing you have heard that quite a bit. So, if giving your family or friends a gift makes you feel so wonderful, isn’t it natural that giving a gift to help a person or an animal or the environment will make you feel the same way? Shouldn’t you get the same rush of endorphins you get when seeing your sister light up because you found the perfect gift for her? Shouldn’t you tell everyone how great you feel because you helped someone you don’t even know get a warm meal or medical assistance or helped an animal off the streets?
I titled this article as thinking of charity as an investment in ourselves because making yourself happy and feeling good about helping others IS an investment in your well being. You are doing something that makes you happy and feel good.
As COVID continues to haunt us and the economy struggles to recover, please think about all those who are being helped by a charity and, even if it is less than in the past, invest in yourself and give them a gift.
AAPP encourages you to support your local animal welfare agencies. Keeping community resources within your community goes the farthest in helping those in need.