Turns out there’s a neural link between generosity and happiness.
The New York Times Magazine recently reported on a study that determined generosity changed the activity in people’s brains in ways that increase feelings of happiness, even if the generous act is small or only imagined.
I was wondering why, at age 72(?), I have that extra pep in my step.
Since 2003, I’ve invested over $35 million in Give Something Back. It’s been enough to prepay college scholarships for more than 1,500 scholarships students who face economic challenges and other adversity, and our organization is on track to triple that number.
Most nonprofits have endowments and live off the interest, but that’s not my model. I want to help as many people as possible with Give Back for as long as possible, which is a big reason why I started my new payment processing company Beyond. Give Back is the beneficiary of all my personal earnings and majority shareholder in this new venture. So, every time businesses across the country invest in Beyond for payment processing or other services, they help send low-income kids to college.
What is also helping us create a sustainable model are gifts from private donors. One of them just gave us $4 million for scholarships in his home state. I know this gift — which will transform the lives of 150 students — makes him happy.
Give Back hosted a fundraising event, “Wine in the Park,” last Thursday in Lockport, IL. It was held at the recently renovated Lincoln Landing, a spectacular open-air park and museum that we created in 2009 with the Will County Historical Society to commemorate the 200th anniversary of President Lincoln’s birth. I found it a fitting venue in which to introduce the Give Back scholarship program to the community of Lockport — which happens to be my hometown.
It was in Lockport that I received a $250 scholarship from the local women’s club when I was a high school senior — a gift that inspired me to achieve and to want to give back to other individuals when I finally did succeed. The Lockport Women’s Club was in attendance at the Wine in the Park event, along with Give Back alumni, (many of whom attended Lockport High School), Lockport Mayor Steven Streit, and staff from my new company.
I was never prouder of my hometown than that evening at Lincoln Landing. We raised $20,000, but more importantly, we raised awareness about our program which is changing lives, changing communities, and yes, making me very happy.