Around the time I started the project, I became friends with a professor at Syracuse University named Arthur Brooks. Arthur had just come out with the book Who Really Cares, his study of charitable giving that showed, among other things, that people who give to charity end up wealthier. In other words, to generalize, it is in our best interest to be generous–both to the planet and each other.
Because of Arthur, tithing ten percent of my income to charity is part of the positive impact part of the project. What interests me about Arthur’s giving-makes-wealth finding is that it falls in line with so much else in environmental living—what is good for the planet turns out to be good for you too. Eating locally means eating healthier. Using non-carbon-producing transportation like bikes means becoming fitter. And now, according to Arthur, making a positive impact on your environment through giving makes a positive impact on you, too.
Arthur’s recent article about this, which came out in last month’s Portfolio, begins:
“In John Bunyan’s 1684 classic The Pilgrim’s Progress, the character Old Honest poses this riddle to the innkeeper Gaius: “A man there was, tho’ some did count him mad, / The more he cast away, the more he had.” Gaius solves the riddle thus: “He that bestows his Goods upon the Poor / Shall have as much again, and ten times more…
“…Well, it turns out that Gaius was right, and new economic research backs him up. Emerging evidence—crunchy statistics from real data, not the mushy self-help stuff—supports the contention that giving stimulates prosperity, for both individuals and nations. Charity, it appears, can really make you rich.”
Read the rest of his article here.
Image, by Paul Davis, courtesy of Portfolio.