Understanding Travelers Philanthropy

Give Back Getaways: Philanthropic Travel
March 21, 2008, 9:03 pm
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…and rediscover your own.

Bad news for (99% of) the luxury goods market: Spending money on tchochkes doesn’t make you happier, but giving money away just might. That conclusion, in a study published Thursday in the journal Science, flies in the face of what most people and, certainly, advertisers typically believe. It’s far easier to measure income than happiness. Even so, researchers around the world have reported that even though real income has surged around the globe, reported “happiness” levels have stayed relatively flat. That spurred Elizabeth W. Dunn, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver to explore the ways that more money might lead to more happiness.

Working with graduate student Lara B. Aknin and Harvard Business School assistant professor Michael I. Norton, Dunn began by asking 632 Americans from across the U.S. to rate their general level of happiness, as well as to report their income, how much they spent on themselves and how much they donated to charity. As researchers sifted through the numbers, they found that happiness didn’t correlate with personal spending, rather with how much they gave away. Not that anyone was giving very much away. Personal spending -for pleasure and out of necessity -topped donations by a factor of 10. The typical income of participants in the study was modest, roughly ranging from $20,000 to $50,000.

The researchers figured it was worth trying to test the hypothesis a bit further. They found a group of 16 people in the Boston area who were due to receive a profit -sharing bonus at work. A month before getting the bonus, the researchers asked them to rate their happiness. Then, six to eight weeks after the workers received their $3,000 to $8,000 bonuses, the researchers asked what they did with the money and how they felt. Once again, giving away money seemed to nudge many people up the happiness scale, increasing the number of people who said that they were happy “most of the time” rather than just “some of the time,” Dunn reports. Then the researchers put their results to a test: On the Vancouver campus, they handed out sealed envelopes containing $5 or $20 to 46 people. They instructed half the people to spend the money on themselves -either on necessities or indulgences -and then told the other half to give the money away, all by 5 p.m. Once again, those who gave the money away were happier by the end of the day -and just as happy whether they gave away $5 or $20. Dunn said it was hard to speculate whether the results would have been different had she handed out thousands of dollars instead of $5 or $20.

So why don’t people dig into their pockets a bit more? Dunn said most people figure they will be happier spending money on themselves. Dunn’s team asked a group of 100 university students what they thought would make them happier: spending or giving. No surprise here. Most figured they’d be happier spending the money on themselves -and that the more they’d spend, the cheerier they’d be. That’s a double wrong in Dunn’s book. Dunn has been checking on the status of people’s happiness for a number of years. She earned her doctorate in psychology in 2004 for an award-winning study that suggested when people are charming and pleasant -even if they’re just putting on appearances -they genuinely feel better later.

So next time you want to brighten your day, trying giving away that fiver instead of buying a latte -and do it with a smile. Or sign on with with Exquisite Safaris Philanthropic Travel Worldwide.

Learn More:
Exquisite Safaris Corporate Donor Philanthropic Advisory Services
Creative Capitalism: Partner with Exquisite Safaris
The High-Purpose Company: Exquisite Safaris Philanthropic Travel Worldwide
Exquisite Safaris clients say…
Travel Connoisseur Magazine on Exquisite Safaris Philanthropic Travel Worldwide
US Air Magazine on Exquisite Safaris Philanthropic Travel: Travel with a Heart
My First Philanthropic Travel Experience
The Fable of Stone Soup
Understanding Philanthropic Travel
Are We Talking about Philanthropy Yet? No, We Are Not
Travel Philanthropy: Creating Peace
Fast Company Magazine on Philanthropic Travel
PersonalLifemedia.com on Philanthropic Travel
Philanthropic Traveler funded High School opens near Victoria Falls, Zambia

Philanthropic Travelers:
The The One’s Who Do: Visionary Philanthropic Travelers
Visionary Philanthropic Traveler Marc Gold 100 Friends Project
Visionary Philanthropic Traveler Chellie Kew
Milton & Fred Ochieng: Philanthropic Travelers
Jane Kaye- Bailey: Philanthropic Traveler
Richard Branson: Philanthropic Traveler
Angelina Jolie: Philanthropic Traveler
Oprah Winfrey: Philanthropic Traveler
Palm Beach Life Magazine: Philanthropic Travelers


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