Happiness and Philanthropy

Following are articles that discuss the link between happiness and philanthropy, a central tenet of the Lodestar Foundation's mission. We encourage you to contact us if you are aware of any other articles that should be referenced on this web page.


Why Fund-Raising is Fun

The New York Times Sunday Review, March 29, 2014. Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, writes this opinion piece about his scholarly research that found that charitable giving stimulates prosperity. Research has shown this is because charitable giving improves people’s belief that they are capable of handling a situation and/or bring about a desired outcome.

Don't Indulge. Be Happy.

The New York Times Sunday Review, July 7, 2012. Elizabeth Dunn, an associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, and Michael Norton, an associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, discuss in this opinion piece how what you do with your money plays a more important role in your happiness than how much money you make. Dunn and Norton's research shows that buying less for yourself and buying more for others increases the happiness you obtain from your money.

The Giving Commitment: Knowing Your Motivation

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, 2011. This booklet, which helps people determine their motivation for giving, profiles several philanthropists, including George Soros, and details their reason for giving. Soros, who has given away more than $8 billion, wrote, "My philanthropy has made me happy. What more could one ask for?"

Giving Makes the Rich Richer - and Happier

Chronicle of Philanthropy, October 29, 2009. Giving away money to good causes helps the wealthy get richer — and live happier lives, new research finds.

Happiness is a $58m Question

Melbourne Herald-Sun, June 9, 2008. In this article, a law professor makes the case for the old adage “It is better to give than receive” citing research shows that people who engage in genuine acts of kindness experience higher levels of well-being that those who do not.

Spending on Happiness: Q&A with Michael I. Norton

Harvard Business School Working Knowledge, June 2, 2008. Can money buy you happiness? Yes—so long as you spend the money on someone else. According to new research, giving other people even as little as $5 can lead to increased well-being for the giver.

How to Buy Happiness

Forbes, March 20, 2008. Harvard researchers found that contrary to popular opinion, happiness does not correlate to the amount of people’s spending on personal necessities or luxuries but rather on the amount they give away to others.

Why Do People Give to Charity?

Tactical Philanthropy, February 21, 2008. Sean Stannard-Stockton, a wealth advisor who specializes in serving philanthropic families, shares his beliefs on charitable giving on this blog post, writing, in part, "I believe giving is motivated by humans’ deeply held need to find meaning in life . . . Humans want to feel a sense of connection and a sense of purpose to life. Giving (time, money, energy) is a central way that we strive to find meaning."

Paying Taxes, According to the Brain, Can Bring Satisfaction

University of Oregon, June 14, 2007. University of Oregon scientists studied brain activity and have found that making voluntary donations, even anonymously, activates the region of the brain associated with satisfying one’s basic needs or desired pleasures.

Volunteer Work and Well-being

Journal of Health and Social Behavior, June 2001. Vanderbilt sociology professors examined the relationships between volunteer work in the community and six aspects of personal well-being: happiness, life satisfaction, self-esteem, sense of control over life, physical health, and depression and found that volunteer work indeed enhances all six aspects of well-being.