Do you remember The One Where Phoebe Hates PBS? If you know what I am talking about, chances are you spent a good part of your early life binge watching possibly the greatest sitcom ever made. If not, chances are, you hate fun. In this iconic* episode, Joey explains why he wants to serve as co- presenter on PBS (America’s Public Broadcasting Service), which, for reasons related to Sesame Street, Phoebe hates.
Joey: I’m sorry Pheebs, I just wanted to do a good deed…like you with the babies**
Phoebe: This isn’t a good deed, you just want to get on TV, this is totally selfish.
Joey: Woah Woah Woah, what about you having those babies for your brother***, talk about selfish.
Phoebe: What are you talking about?
Joey: Well yeh it was a really nice thing and all but it made you feel really good, right?
Phoebe: Yeh, so?
Joey: Well it made YOU feel good so that makes it selfish, look there’s no unselfish good deed, sorry.
If you have ever seen Friends, you will know that Joey is not a particularly profound or knowledgeable guy, but in this case, he is right on the money. In fact, 26% of people recently admitted to participating in fundraising efforts to “Feel Good”, and the benefits don’t end there.
Elizabeth Dunn, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia found that giving can be good for your health. In her study, she measured people's blood pressure before and after giving, and found that it fell when people gave to other people or causes, but didn’t change when they spent money on themselves. "Giving is not just heartwarming,” she said at a conference, “it may be quite literally good for our hearts”.
This warm fuzzy feeling can also be enhanced if you feel connected to the cause. Dr. Laura Atkin, assistant professor of psychology at Simon Fraser University, recently conducted a series of experiments and found that giving was more rewarding when you had the opportunity to spend time with other people or experience a social connection.
But how do you create a social connection? For most charities, the answer lies in showing donors precisely where their money is going. Take, UNICEF who have dedicated a whole page on their website to “where your donations go” or Oxfam who developed an app which lets people control their monthly donations and keep up to date on how their money is being spent. Users can even view video diaries from recipients of their money and receive live updates in the case of emergencies. The Epic Foundation has taken this concept further by creating an app that uses cutting edge technology to research, measure and track the impact of every donation - be that the number of hot meals served or hours taught.
Charities must consider facilitating strong social connections to engage would be donors and ensure long term giving. These connections could, in turn, make people “feel good” and donate more - which, contrary to what Joey might think, is pretty great.
*They all are
** Spoiler alert, Phoebe has triplets
*** Just watch it