A Feel-Good Article About Generosity
There are few things about my job that I truly dislike. One of them is calling customer support when a piece of software we use isn’t working. The other is reading the news. When it comes to building sturdy portfolios and offering the best financial solutions, having an ear to the ground is crucial. However, I think I’m in the majority when I say that reading the news is also often stressful, if not downright depressing. So often, what is deemed news are stories of concern that remind us that the world is uncertain and full of conflict. The news is inherently a story about us, and we humans are difficult to predict. Sometimes, you need a feel-good story to cut through all of the bleak headlines out there.
While we’re discussing the pros and cons of my job, webinars are another area of my job that’s a genuine mixed bag. As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER®, I’m required to log 30 hours of continuing education every two years. As a self-proclaimed life-long learner, I am (mostly) delighted to oblige. Watching webinars is how I recently learned that you can now convert up to $35,000 of assets in a 529 into a Roth Account and that the former Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve recently released a 13-track album of his own music.
This past week I tuned into a webinar on charitable giving presented by Schwab Charitable, the nonprofit that operates Schwab’s Donor Advised Fund. Of course, the angle of the webinar is to encourage you to use their product. But setting that aside, I found the stats shared on the call to be truly impressive and uplifting in their own way. In 2022, donors gave $4.7 billion through Schwab Charitable, supporting 117,000 different charities. 2022 saw its largest year of generosity yet, despite the fact that financial markets took an intense beating and most asset classes were down. I find that piece of information meaningful because it means that donors continued to value generosity even when it is less convenient. Giving increased, even as account balances fell.
In some respects, it’s not actually that surprising. There have been numerous studies on positive links between generosity and well-being. For instance, the Cleveland Clinic notes that giving increases serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin levels – all chemicals that naturally exist in our brains that make us feel good. It’s also linked to lower blood pressure, a longer life span, and less stress. And, of course, giving and receiving help us strengthen our ties with others.
One of the things I love most about my job is that it allows me a unique perspective into what people truly value. After all, what we spend our resources on is an honest reflection of what is important to us. And for many of our clients, those values are often a profound and beautiful expression of generosity. Generosity isn’t limited to giving to a 501c3. We’ve worked with many clients to find more efficient and effective ways to give assets. Still, generosity can be expressed in many ways, not just with wealth. Generosity is supporting our families and finding ways to help them thrive. It’s creating space to volunteer our time and skills to do good in our communities. It’s tiny moments of sharing our extra with those around us who can use a helping hand.
As you celebrate the coming of spring and the holidays of this season with your families, I hope you are refreshed by the generosity we don’t always see in the news. I find that it is all around if I take a moment to pause and look for it. And if you’re looking for ways to be more impactful with your financial giving, we’re always happy to sit down with you and discuss potential strategies for taking your generosity even further.
“All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors—in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver.” - Fred Rogers
Schwab.com. “2022 Giving Report.” Schwab Brokerage, Schwab Charitable, 23 Jan. 2023, https://www.schwabcharitable.org/resource/calendar-year-2022-giving-report.
Team, Brain and Spine. “Why Giving Is Good for Your Health.” Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, 5 Jan. 2023, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/why-giving-is-good-for-your-health/.