Published on: November 4, 2013
National study finds link between giving & happiness
Non-_profit organisations can spur future giving by giving volunteers and donors a positive experience.
Giving is not only good for the soul and it is also good for non-_profit organisations, as according to a national study commissioned by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), highly satisfied volunteers and donors will continue giving. This is the first time that NVPC research, using a nationally-_representative sample, has found a link between giving and their experience with non-_profit organisations.
Laurence Lien, CEO of NVPC, said: “Be it in volunteering or donating, it is important that NPOs manage volunteers and donors effectively. NPOs play an important role to spur future giving and should engage their givers better to develop a positive giving experience. Doing that increases the likelihood for volunteers and donors to continue giving.”
Happy givers give more
The study, which measured responses of 1,512 individuals age 15 and above, found that volunteers who had a high satisfaction with their experience with the NPOs, 88 percent of them intend to volunteer in the future, compared to 70 percent for volunteers who had low satisfaction. And for donors who had a high satisfaction with their donor experience with the NPOs, 92 percent intend to donate in the future, compared to 78 percent for donors who had low satisfaction.
It also found that those who volunteered and donated were happy. Two-_thirds or 66 percent of those who volunteered and/_or donated were satisfied and happy with their lives, i.e. they had high levels of subjective well-_being (SWB), in contrast to the non-_givers – less than half had high levels of SWB. Furthermore, a higher proportion of those who served 12 or more volunteer hours in the last 12 months had high SWB compared to those who served less (71 percent vs 63 percent).
This also mirrored the donating side – a higher proportion of those who gave $100 or more in the last 12 months had high SWB compared to those who gave less (72 percent vs 59 percent). This study is part of NVPC’s Individual Giving Survey 2012, where a portion of the survey findings were released earlier this year.
Explaining these recent findings, Prof David Chan, Lee Kuan Yew Fellow, professor of Psychology and director of the Behavioural Sciences Institute at Singapore Management University (SMU), who was NVPC’s pro-_bono consultant in the study on giving and SWB, said: “The findings … on giving and the giver’s well-_being are consistent with research from elsewhere which showed that giving and well-_being can influence each other. Happy people are more likely to give, but people who give also tend to become happier. This is because the act of giving not only benefits the recipient but also leads to positive outcomes for the giver.
“When you give, you derive a sense of personal meaning from helping others. You also become more grateful for your own life conditions as you appreciate the situation of those who are less fortunate. The outcomes can also be indirect. For example, when helping others, your interactions with the recipients and other givers produce positive social relationships and a sense of community.”
On what all this means to the Republic, Prof Chan said: “Efforts that enhance individuals’ subjective well-_being are likely to increase their tendency to give. Conversely, efforts that promote giving are likely to have a positive influence on the givers’ well-_being. Therefore, encouraging giving and increasing subjective well-_being will lead to a positive spiral in Singapore society, and it benefits both givers and recipients in many ways.”
Having a good experience
Alvin Goh, 26, wanted to try his hand in volunteering this year for the first-_time and wanted to work with an elderly non-_profit. He was recommended to such a non-_profit but because it did not follow up with him, he decided to try another non-_profit. Second time was a charm. Today, he is volunteering each week with Lions Befrienders; he started befriending one elderly and now it has increased to two elderly each week near his home.
“Looking back at my volunteering experience so far, I would say that it has positively impacted my life in more ways than one. I wish that more volunteers would join the cause and give back to society because when you look back at life, it’s not about money or social status. It’s about feeling contented with having led a meaningful life by bringing happiness to those who need it most,” said Goh. He shared that through volunteering, he saw that the elderly “live a very simple life and yet seem so happy and contented all the time” and he even got influenced – “as a matter of fact, I’ve even started enjoying listening to oldies because of one of the elderly would always have her radio tuned to Gold90.5FM all the time we’re there”.
** To help build up capabilities in volunteer and donor management, NVPC has released checklists and guides on how to work with volunteers and donors. These are available – free of charge – at www_.nvpc_.org_.sg/_r_e_s_earch, while examples of best practices in volunteer and donor management are also freely available at www_.nvpc_.org_.sg/_a_wards.