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Healthy and Authentic Giving

Date: June 27, 2024

The Apostle Paul spells it out for us: “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 8:1). If we are cheerful before we give, we will be doubly so afterward because the feel-good effects of giving begin in the brain. Stephen G. Post, director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics at New York’s Stony Brook University, calls it “giver’s glow.”

Additionally, people who live in generous societies have longer lifespans than those who do not. Fanny Kluge and Tobias Vogt of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research have research that shows generosity positively affects our brains and health, even extending our lives.

This is good news.

The flip side of this good news is that there are more than 1.5 million charities in the US alone, and most of us are bombarded daily by thousands of messages asking for gifts. The average person supports seven charitable organizations annually, so while the act of giving can improve our health, even to the point of releasing endorphins that bring tranquility, serenity, or inner peace, deciding to whom and how much to give can be anxiety-provoking.

How can we cope? Well, Dean Markham has reflected on the significance of the offertory in the Eucharist service. The offertory invites us into authenticity and comes from a “real place from within” as we settle our minds, reflect on what matters, and make our offering to God. According to the Dean, we should focus on “human lives” (and our relationships with each other) and not on the accumulation of even “more stuff” when making our offerings.

Do know that when we give from a place of thankfulness and appreciation for others, we share out of gratitude. We become more of our best selves beyond the initial “feel-good moment” of giving.

Most of us attend the Eucharist weekly, but requests for gifts to charities are a daily onslaught to our eyes, minds, and hearts. So be brave, dip prayerfully into your well of emotions about what matters to you and make a gift. Do it regularly and out of genuine cheerfulness, knowing that you—in your philanthropic giving—are making a difference in our world.

God does love a cheerful giver!

Linda L. Dienno, MSc
Vice President for Institutional Advancement

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