Chapter 11

The Power of Philanthropy and Volunteering

Sara Konrath

University of Michigan and University of Rochester Medical Center, U.S.A.

He who cannot give anything away cannot feel anything either.

Friedrich Nietzsche, The will to power, Volume 2

This chapter reviews research on the relationship between giving time (i.e., volunteering) and money (i.e., philanthropy) and givers' psychological wellbeing. Most of this literature defines psychological wellbeing hedonically, as happiness and other positive emotions, positive evaluations (e.g., life satisfaction), and the absence of negative emotions (Deci & Ryan, 2008; Ryan, Huta, & Deci, 2008). However, on the rare occasions when wellbeing is defined more eudaimonically, as having a deeper sense of meaning, purpose, and fulfillment in life, this is noted. This chapter aims to contextualize the literature on giving and wellbeing within a theoretical framework that can help to specify under which conditions giving can increase givers' psychological wellbeing, and under which conditions it may be less beneficial.

Both time and money are limited resources and the typical view of such resources within traditional economic models is that they exist in order to take care of one's own needs. It is obvious, however, that these resources may also be used to take care of the needs of others. For example, parenting involves an immense commitment of time and financial resources, and these resources are sometimes given to offspring at the expense ...

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