The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

Smile, you’re in the happiness business

You’re in the business not only of doing good; you’re in the business of making people feel great. I like to quote the researcher M.A.Strahilevitz on this topic: “Most fundraisers probably don’t think of themselves in the business of selling happiness to donors, but that is … their job.”

In an interview with Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, Gretchen Rubin quotes Lyubomirsky on why this is the case:

“Research shows that there are many simple activities that reliably make people happier. My favorite is doing acts of kindness. The generous acts don’t have to be random and they don’t have to be a certain kind (e.g, anonymous or social or big, etc.). We have found that almost any types of acts of kindness boost happiness. And two hot-off-the-presses studies reveal even bigger benefits. An experiment we just published in PLOS ONE showed that when 9- to 11-year old kids were asked to do acts of kindness for several weeks, not only did they get happier over time but they became more popular with their peers. And another big intervention we just finished at a company in Spain showed that asking some employees to be generous to a randomly chosen list of colleagues (we called this our “Secret Santa” manipulation) produced huge benefits (for increasing happiness, connectedness, flow, and decreasing depression) not just for the givers, but for the receivers and even for observers. The recipients of kindness “paid the kind acts forward” and even acquaintances of the givers became happier and were inspired to act more generously themselves.”

Smile, you’re in the happiness business.

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About This Blog
Caryn Stein hi res

Caryn Stein
Vice President, Communications and Content, Network for Good

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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