Julius Rosenwald, a wealthy philanthropist from the past, shows us one way to give back to society. But there are many others as well.
WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2015 – I recently saw the documentary movie, “Rosenwald,” about Julius Rosenwald’s leadership, his involvement with the civil rights movement, his philanthropy and the many contributions he made in this country.
In 1895 Rosenwald became partners with Richard Sears (the salesman of the business) and under Rosenwald’s leadership Sears, Roebuck & Company became the largest retailer in the United States. His philosophy was a simple one and a philosophy that he used over his lifetime. If he earned $1,500, he would save one third, contribute one third, and reinvest one third in his business. He was a tough businessman with a huge heart for charity. He strongly believed in giving back.
The holiday season is a wonderful time of the year for many people. It can also be a tough time of the year. Wherever you fall on the continuum, there is something we all can do to help others and to feel better ourselves. It is simply the gift of giving, giving in a way that works for you. That may mean the giving of your time, giving financially or doing a portion of your work pro bono.
In the publication “Great Good” (Marsh and Suttie), you can read about a study by Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton and colleagues. The study found that “giving money to someone else lifted participants’ happiness more that spending it on themselves.”
The publication offers additional supporting evidence:
Happiness expert Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, saw similar results when she asked people to perform five acts of kindness each week for six weeks.
These good feelings are reflected in our biology. In a 2006 study, Jorge Moll and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health found that when people give to charities, it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect. “Scientists also believe that altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain, producing the positive feeling known as the ‘helper’s high.’”
The study also noted that the act of giving promotes cooperation and social connection as well as evoking gratitude. In fact, the study’s authors observe that giving is contagious and inspires others to “behave generously later toward different people…each person in a network and can influence dozens or even hundreds of people, some of whom he or she does not know and has not met.”
Considering all that is going on across the globe today, I strongly believe we should all consider taking a step to create positive change throughout the world. By way of suggestion, one way I contribute to a more positive future is to provide pro bono work. It’s something all professionals can offer, and the more, the better.
What can you do? What is your call to action? Now is the time to answer that call.
I wish you all Peace on Earth.
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