To Give is to Receive

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

“He who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.” Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Arthur Brookes, an economist and professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Syracuse, works with successful entrepreneurs. In an article entitled The Privilege of Giving (Marriott Alumni Magazine, Winter 2008), Dr. Brookes states that the entrepreneurs he works with are very generous. He used to believe they were generous because of their excess wealth. They give money away because they have money. However, many entrepreneurs told him that they have money because they give it away. Dr. Brookes didn’t believe them and so put their theory to a test.Working with a number of universities and community foundations, Dr. Brookes sponsored a study of thirty thousand American families. The researchers gave these families an exhaustive survey asking questions about their jobs, how much money they make, what they do with their time, whether or not they volunteer, how much money they give away to charities, etc.

To his astonishment, he learned that the more families give away the more they receive. In other words, if you have two families and control for every other variable (education, number kids, region of residence, ages, religion, etc.), but one of those families gives $100 more to charity than the other family, that family will, on average, have a net income of $375 more than the non-giving family and that difference can only be explained by their charitable giving (only variable on which the families are measurably different).

When Dr. Brookes got the data he was convinced it was wrong, so gathered new data, rewrote his analysis and found that he got the same results again … and again. The results consistently suggested that the return on an investment of $1.00 given to charity was $3.75—an amazing outcome.

Giving is its own reward

The rewards of giving are far more than financial. There is a good body of research in neuropsychology that shows that people who are generous with their money have more endorphins and fewer stress hormones in their brains. They are both happier and more effective than people who do not give.

Something about giving changes us. But the change only happens when we give “not grudgingly or of necessity” but voluntarily and with goodwill. It is then that the good we put out to others comes back to bless our lives. Spiritual teachers and the great religions of the world have long taught us to give and that our giving shall be returned to us manifold.

In the classic book, The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran imparts profound wisdom about giving. “You oft would say, ‘I would give but only to the deserving.’ The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture. They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.”

The time to give is now. The difference you can make in someone’s life is incredible.  And maybe you will also be blessed in return.

Roger K. Allen, Ph.D. is an expert in personal transformation, leadership, and teams. His tools and methods have helped hundreds of businesses and tens of thousands of people transform the ways they work and live. To learn more, visit

About Roger K. Allen
Roger K. Allen, Ph.D. is an expert in personal transformation and family development. His tools and methods have helped tens of thousands of people live happier and more effective lives. To learn more, visit>.

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