What Indulgence Has to Do With Being Super Generous

What Indulgence Has to Do With Being Super Generous

If you’ve ever donated money to a charitable organization, then you probably know the warm glow that generosity can yield.

But the truth is that, over time, we can forget how good it feels to help others financially. And so while, in theory, giving might sound great, we often need a little extra convincing.

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Fortunately, new research suggests there’s a surprisingly easy way to make charitable giving seem more appealing.

The trick? Envision yourself shelling out for an indulgent purchase instead of giving that same amount of money to charity.

Researchers in the study distributed envelopes with letters asking for $5 donations to UNICEF. Some letters mentioned that $5 is how much it costs to buy a tube of Colgate 12-hour multi-protection toothpaste; other letters likened the donation to the price of a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream.

The results showed that people who were reminded of ice cream (a treat) were significantly more likely to end up donating than those who saw the message about toothpaste (a utilitarian item).

Why did it work? In subsequent parts of the experiment, the researchers found that people can feel selfish when not donating but thinking about something indulgent. So they likely ended up making a contribution in order to feel better about themselves.

Of course, the takeaway here isn’t that you should feel guilty every time you shell out $5 for a pint of Chunky Monkey. After all, everyone’s entitled to a budget-friendly splurge once in a while.

But when trying to budget for charitable giving, it’s helpful to think about how you would spend those funds on yourself instead. How meaningful, really, is that weekly $15 movie ticket, especially when you know it could help a needy family instead?

For more tips on planning for charitable giving, follow our guide to making room in your budget for generosity.

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