Tag - philanthropy

Tired of being compassionate?

A willingness to see the needs of others and lend a helping hand can boost a person’s everyday happiness and make life more satisfying.

But sometimes the world’s problems can seem so overwhelming – and each person’s ability to solve them so limited – that “compassion fatigue” sets in.

Compassion fatigue is a phenomenon commonly found among people such as nurses, psychologists and first responders, says entrepreneur and philanthropist Tim McCarthy, author of “Empty Abundance: Finding Meaning Through Mindful Giving” (mindfulgiving.org).

“It boils down to gradual lessening of compassion over time – becoming numb to the painful experiences of others,” McCarthy says.

Even average people who volunteer for a worthy cause or provide care to a loved one can experience it, says McCarthy. And warding it off is important, he says, because compassion fatigue may lead to such symptoms as stress, anxiety, hopelessness and a negative outlook on life.

It’s the opposite of “helper’s high,” that euphoric feeling that can lift people psychologically when they perform acts of kindness.

“As great as my helper’s high can be, I will crash when I become compassion fatigued,” McCarthy says.

There’s no sure-fire way of avoiding compassion fatigue, but McCarthy offers these suggestions that could help.

•  Hold your compassion lightly and joyfully. Never take yourself too seriously, he adds. “It’s unlikely you will save the world any more than I will, but it is likely – no, it’s guaranteed – that if you only do what you can and do it gladly, adjusting as you learn from your mistakes, life’s moments of both joy and pain will be more fulfilling.”

•  Trust but verify. President Ronald Reagan famously expressed this Russian proverb as his philosophy when it came to monitoring an arms treaty with the Soviet Union. The approach works equally well when deciding how and when to help a person or organization, McCarthy says.

Sadly, in addition to the truly needy, there are those who will try to use you to get money or some other type of support when they don’t deserve anyone’s help, he says.

“There will always be fakers and fakers will wear you out,” he says. Try not to let them by doing a little research to make sure those you help are worthy of your efforts.

•  Unless you are trained for it, leave the direct service to the professionals. Some problems are best solved by those who have been properly trained. Not everyone has the right emotional makeup to deal with some of the intense suffering that goes on in the world.

That doesn’t mean sit it out and do nothing, McCarthy says. The rest of us can find plenty of ways to help, such as through donations or volunteering for duties that are more in line with our expertise or capabilities.
“Compassion fatigue can be reduced by doing a fearless inventory of what we’re good at and what we’re not, verifying what we’re told and by remembering we will help but never solve this broken world,” McCarthy concludes.

About Tim McCarthy

Tim McCarthy’s first business, WorkPlace Media, reaches more than 70 million employees with incentives for clients such as Starbucks, Wrigley and Macy’s. He sold the company in 2007 and recently bought it back. In 2003, he partnered with his son, Tim Patrick McCarthy, to open Raising Cane’s of Ohio, which had 13 stores with over $30 million in revenue in 2014. McCarthy, author of “Empty Abundance” (mindfulgiving.org), earned his bachelor’s in political science and MBA from Ohio State University. In 2008, he received the Fisher Alumnae Community Service Award and was named an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year.


Seeking happiness? Try giving

Many Americans are choosing to hold onto their money these days, a lesson learned from the 2008-09 financial crash.

It’s good to have savings – but not to the point of hoarding, says entrepreneur and philanthropist Tim McCarthy, author of “Empty Abundance,” (mindfulgiving.org).

Americans are saving at a rate of 5.30 percent, well above the record low of 0.80 percent in 2005, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The world’s billionaires are holding an average of $600 million each in cash, which is more than the gross domestic product of Dominica, according to the new Billionaire Census from Wealth-X and UBS. That’s up from $60 million the previous year, signaling that the very wealthy are keeping their money on the sidelines and waiting for an optimal investment time.

“All of us could invest part of our ‘fortune,’ great or small, on something that gives back on a deeper human level, such as non-predatory loans to individuals from impoverished communities,”

McCarthy diverts all of his business profits annually to his foundation, The Business of Good, which invests in socially conscious businesses and scalable nonprofit concepts.

He reviews what everyone has to gain from mindful giving.

•  Money buys you happiness – up to $75,000 worth. Life satisfaction rises with income, but everyday happiness – another measure of well-being – changes little once a person earns $75,000 per year, according to a 2010 Princeton study. Another widely published survey by psychologist Roy Baumeister suggested that “happiness, or immediate fulfillment, is largely irrelevant to meaningfulness.” In other words, so many who finally achieve financial excess are unfulfilled by the rewards that come with that.

•  Remember the wealth disconnection to overall fulfillment. A Gallup survey conducted in 132 countries found that people in wealthy countries rate themselves higher in happiness than those in poor countries. However, 95 percent of those surveyed in poverty-stricken countries such as Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan and Sierra Leone reported leading meaningful lives, while less than 60 percent reported the same in wealthier countries.

“While more investigation to wealth, happiness and well-being is certainly in order, I think it’s clear that while money is important, it cannot buy purpose, significance or overall satisfaction,” McCarthy says.

•  Giving money reliably equals happy money. Two behavioral scientists, Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, explore in their recent book, “Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending,” what makes people engage in “prosocial behavior” – including charitable contributions, buying gifts and volunteering time. According to Dunn and Norton, recent research on happiness indicates that the most satisfying way of using money is to invest in others.

In 2010, multi-billionaires Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates co-founded The Giving Pledge, a long-term charitable effort that asks the wealthiest among us to commit to giving more than half of their fortunes to philanthropy. Among the first to join, Michael R. Bloomberg wrote in his pledge letter: “If you want to do something for your children and show how much you love them, the single best thing – by far – is to support organizations that will create a better world for them and their children.”  To date, 115 of our country’s 495 billionaires have pledged.

•  Anhedonia, amnesia and the fallacy of consumption. Anhedonia is the inability to enjoy activities that are typically found pleasurable.

“After making my wealth, I found that I suffered from anhedonia,” McCarthy says. “Mindful giving – intelligent and conscious giving to those who need it – turned out to be my best therapy.”

Everybody has experienced the limits of consumption, the economic law of diminishing returns. One cookie is nice and so, too, is your first $1 million. But at some point, your ability to enjoy eating cookies or earning millions diminishes more with each successive one.

“Everyone learns this lesson, yet the horror is that so many of us succeed in forgetting it,” McCarthy says. “I think that, in every moment, we need to remind ourselves that continually reaching for the next ‘cookie’ is not in our best interest.”
About Tim McCarthy
Tim McCarthy’s first business, WorkPlace Media, eventually built a permissioned database of 700,000 gatekeepers who reach more than 70 million employees with incentives for clients such as Coca-Cola, Lenscrafters and McDonalds. He sold the company in 2007 and recently bought it back. In 2003, he partnered with his son, Tim Patrick McCarthy, to open Raising Cane’s of Ohio, which had 13 stores with over $30 million in revenue in 2013. McCarthy, author of “Empty Abundance,” (mindfulgiving.org), earned his bachelor’s in political science and MBA from Ohio State University. In 2008, he received the Fisher Alumnae Community Service Award and was named an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year.


Giving to charity yields multiple benefits

“It’s a news story that never gets old: the little kid suffering from cancer who runs in a touchdown and gets a standing ovation, or is recognized by an entire city as Batman for a day, or the little girls who dress up for prom night because, tragically, they may not make it to high school,’’ says independent retirement advisor Gary Marriage, Jr.

“Retirees, who’ve lived full, mostly blessed lives, often wish they could do something for these children or another cause that touches their heart.”

Marriage, CEO of Nature Coast Financial Advisors (www.naturecoastfinancial.com), which specializes in maximizing retirees’ finances, says charitable efforts can provide a powerful sense of purpose and meaning to life – whether they come in retirement or during the working years. Marriage, for instance, is founder of Operation: Veteran Aid, which helps veterans and their surviving spouses with long-term care expenses by qualifying them with the Department of Veteran Affairs’ Aid and Attendance benefit.

He reviews four reasons why retirees should explore charitable giving.

• Voluntary vs. involuntary philanthropy: At the federal level, you can zero out your estate taxes by diverting what would have gone to the government in favor of your chosen cause. In a real sense, the government is a sort of charity; Through taxes, a citizen’s money goes into the social capital funnel. If you’re worried your tax money isn’t being spent wisely, consider a legitimate charity that you would like to support. There are legal leveraging techniques that can be used to make your taxed income skew more voluntary than involuntary.

• Smart from the heart giving: Each year, Americans give about $300 billion to charity. Like any investment, carefully consider to whom you’re giving; ask plenty of questions. Also, think about giving to underfunded charities. Finally, make your money go further by donating your time and skills to the charity. You’ll likely experience even greater satisfaction when you combine a donation of money and effort.

• The rewarding knowledge of your will: Only about 40 percent of Americans have this important legal document, which covers your estate’s executor, guardians for children and how to distribute your estate. A fourth component is gifts, which enables you to identify people or organizations to whom you wish to give gifts of money or specific possessions, such as jewelry or a car.

• Perspective on your money: Many people say, “…but I’m not Bill Gates or Warren Buffett – let those guys give their money away.” In fact, there are many “middle-class millionaires” – those who live modestly in middle-income neighborhoods, who have a net worth of $1 million or more. “These folks have saved money their entire lives, and they don’t donate money easily,” Marriage says. “However, others in their same situation have donated some of their estate and found it among the most rewarding acts they’ve ever done.”

About Gary Marriage

Gary Marriage, Jr. is the founder and CEO of Nature Coast Financial Advisors, (www.naturecoastfinancial.com), which educates retirees on how to protect their assets, increase their income, and reduce their taxes. Marriage is a national speaker, delivering solutions for pre-retirees, business owners and seniors on the areas affecting their retirement and estates. He is an approved member of the National Ethics Bureau, and has been featured in “America’s Top Hometown Financial Advisors 2011 and most recently selected to Co-Author a book with Steve Forbes titled, “Power Principals.” Marriage is also the founder of Operation Veteran Aid, an advocate for war-time veterans and their families.