Health and Growth

5 Scientific Reasons Why Giving is Rewarding

Giving isn't the same as losing. Jesus said it was better to give than receive. Turns out, so does the latest science.

5 Scientific Reasons Why Giving is Rewarding

Paul Maxwell

People expect you to be cynical in the 21st century.

The self-help genre dominates the bookselling marketplace.

People feel bad more and more often, and they are scrambling to feel a sense of meaning, connection, and happiness.

There is a strategy we can use to combat feelings of meaninglessness, loneliness, and depression most people often overlook.

This strategy has nothing to do with centering your third-eye.

This strategy doesn’t require you to implement a get-rich-quick scheme

This strategy to achieve a sense of purposefulness, connectedness, and joy is ancient and profound:

Give more.

Most people don’t want to give more because they already feel taken advantage of.

They feel a sense of victimization by the world.

They don’t want to be generous, giving, and charitable, because it requires a kind of optimism that is risky—it requires a hope that says: “I believe there is something worth saving in this world and I’m going to be part of God’s plan to meet the needs of others instead of hoarding as much as I can for myself.”

But this strategy isn’t just an ancient psychological tactic to achieve the peace that comes with happiness.

This strategy is also verified by multiple scientific disciplines.

These findings, both time-tested and empirically tested, should prompt us to rethink how we approach giving.

When we are able to understand the profundity of Jesus’s words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35), we will begin to benefit from the act of giving and see how giving doesn’t make us victims—it makes us beneficiaries.

Let’s jump right into the five scientific reasons why giving is rewarding.

1. Giving makes you happy

A 2017 study published in the journal Nature Communications found that generous behavior is neurologically correlated with happiness.

How does this work?

Let me get a little nerdy.

Compared with a control group, those who made generous decisions showed a higher ability to make themselves feel genuinely happy. Generosity was a way to practice using the part of their brain that induced happiness.

In other words, the more you give, the bigger your “happiness muscle” gets, and the easier it is to make yourself feel happy.

2. Giving makes your community safe

Giving has real social value.

Most people know what it’s like to be in a desperate place.

Many people who know what it’s like to feel desperate also know what it’s like to feel immense gratitude for receiving a gift.

It’s important to remember this.

Giving a gift to someone in need doesn’t just make you a generous person.

It also makes the recipient a grateful person.

When you give, you don’t just give money.

You give breathing room.

You give someone in need the ability to exhale, relax, and reorient to find a way to pick themselves up.

One study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that people who have received generosity are more likely to be generous in return.

3. Giving creates trust

Giving creates a relational connection between the giver and the receiver.

But it does more than this—giving situates the giver within the larger purpose of the church community.

Giving is one of the ways that a Christian can become a crucial element of the church’s mission on earth.

A recent study produced by Stanford University showed that social engagement predicts life longevity.

The more you belong to a community, the higher your chances of living a longer life.

This doesn’t mean that you have to be rich to belong.

It means that of the resources you have, if you choose to horde them all for yourself, you are robbing yourself of an important benefit of giving that is key to a long and happy life.

4. Giving is a tax write-off

One obvious benefit of generosity is the ability to reduce your taxable income.

If you are able to process your donation through a registered 501(c)(3), you can deduct that amount from your final yearly income and receive a tax refund for the amount you were taxed.

Here’s an overly simplistic example:

If you pay 25% tax on your income, and you give $100 to a charity, you can submit the donation receipt to the IRS during tax season to receive $25 back on your income.

You can benefit in two ways from these kinds of donations.

First, your deducted charitable donation could result in bumping you to a lower income bracket, which results in your donated funds simply going to a non-profit of your choice rather than the federal government.

Second, the tax write-off of donations enables you to give more elsewhere. If you simply had to give money to churches without deducting them, your donating power would be lower. But since you can deduct them, their deductibility essentially increases your gross giving power by whatever percentage is your tax rate.

5. Giving helps create margin in your budget

Practicing a regular discipline of financial giving enables you to create a financial margin that isn’t entirely focused on consumption.

This yields financial practices which are both wise and beneficial to those in your community.

If you know how to create financial margin in your budget, this means that you know how to be disciplined enough to save money, steward your resources, and help your neighbors in need which, as we have seen, yields various other social and psychological benefits.

Over to you

The Bible not only commands Christians to be generous (Prov. 11:24-25)

The Bible commands Christians to tithe (2 Cor. 9:6-8).

Giving is more rewarding than receiving.

Giving charity feels good.

It benefits us to live in God’s the world the way God has told us to live.

There are neurological, social, relational, economic, and financial benefits proven by both ancient tradition and modern science about which the Bible speaks very plainly.

Will we decide to horde what we have for our immediate gratification, or give freely, not of coercion, because of the blessings we know await those who can see the potential for God’s kingdom in our meaningful acts of giving?

May our eyes be opened to the abundant blessings that come from giving.

Author: Paul Maxwell, Ph.D., is the Content Strategist at He lives in Fishers, IN with his beautiful wife and rowdy wheaten terrier.

Why Write Church Donation Letters?

In a previous blog post, I shared the different ways your church can thank donors—from automated emails to year-end giving reports. Printed donation letters also play an essential role in your church’s stewardship efforts.

Donation letters are the Swiss Army knife of your church’s gratitude arsenal. It may not be the most powerful—but it’s versatile, handy, and gets used often.

Your basic church donation letter can serve many different purposes, including:

  • Acknowledging that you received a donation
  • Thanking the giver for being generous with their finances
  • Sharing other ways the person can support your church
  • Allowing the donor to write the gift off on their taxes
  • Encouraging supporters to make recurring donations
  • Requesting future donations from church members

A single, well-crafted donation letter can pull together several of these things simultaneously. Better donation letters lead to more giving, which leads to more donation letters—thus creating a cycle of on-going church generosity.

Church Donation Letter Samples

Here’s the good news—you don’t have to write an individualized letter for every person who gives to your church. That would be tough to do for even smaller churches. And most donors don’t expect you to. They’d rather you be putting their gift to better use in the community, instead of ceaselessly writing thank you notes.

With the possible exception of some unique circumstances, your church can use template language for the majority of your church donation letters. You’ll have to add in custom details like the donor’s name and gift amount, but you can write everything else in advance.  

To make this even easier on you, here are a few basic church donation letter templates you can copy and paste. Keep in mind that not all of these have to be in print—you could just as easily turn some of these samples into email appeals.

1. Donation Acknowledgment Letter

The Donation Acknowledgement Letter is a basic way you can confirm and affirm a monetary gift to your church. Sending these is standard practice in church and nonprofit culture.

Dear [first name],
I want to personally thank you for your donation of [gift amount] to [church name]. We’re honored you would bless us with your generosity. Donations like yours make a big difference in the work our church is doing in the community.
Without givers like you, our church can’t have an impact or influence in our community. With your support, we’re partnering with local nonprofits, sending out global mission trips, and hosting small groups on topics that help real people like you. Together, we can make a difference.
Because we’re a tax-exempt nonprofit, you also get to write this donation off on your taxes. This letter serves as official proof of your donation, so keep it in your records come tax season. At the end of the year, we’ll also send you an annual recap with how much you’ve given to the church.
Thank you for supporting [church name]!
[your name]

2. Donation Request Letter

Not every church member realizes the importance of giving, or understand Bible verses about tithing and giving.  So a Donation Request Letter helps to spread that awareness and encourage a spirit of generosity.

Dear [first name],
How are the finances in your household? That was a rhetorical question, so you don’t have to answer—besides, this is a letter so we wouldn’t hear you anyway. But we still want you to think about that question.
Money is a uniquely human issue, one we all struggle with to one degree or another. Even if you’re financially blessed, you still have the burden of stewarding your money wisely. And we believe that one of the best ways to invest your money is into the local church.
Tithing (giving 10% of your income) on a regular basis not only supports the work we do at [church name]. It doesn’t just support local missions and community growth. It also shows an obedience to God by making his work a financial priority in your life.
So if you find yourself ready to put God first in both your heart and your wallet, we encourage you to make a one-time gift or sign up to make recurring donations. That way, you won’t have to ever wonder again about the financial status of your household.
[your name]

3. Monthly Giving Letter

Many church donations aren’t just one-time gifts. Plenty of givers contribute monthly—and that should be acknowledged.

Use this template to correspond with recurring givers.  

Dear [first name],
Thank you for being an active and faithful member of our church community. By giving to our church on a monthly basis, you’re showing that our church has a meaningful place in your heart. We just wanted to write this to let you know that you’re in our heart, too.
Donating to the church monthly allows us to preach the gospel, make disciples, and support others in our community who need help. Others like the local food bank and the nearby homeless shelter. We’re answering the cry of the needy, and it’s all thanks to contributors like you.
We earnestly appreciate your ongoing support and want to let you know we’re here for you. If there’s ever anything we can do for you and your family, don’t hesitate to reach out. You are a valued member of our church family. And you’re financial support is making a difference.
[your name]

4. Year-End Giving Letter

At the end of each year, it’s customary to give your church supporters a summary of their gifts. The primary reason is for tax purposes, but it’s also a way to recap everything your church has done over the past year with their support.

Dear [first name],
You’re getting this letter because you gave to [church name] at some point during the past year. That might have been a one-time gift, or recurring donations. Either way, we want to thank you for your generous support. Every contribution helps.
One of the official reasons for this letter is for tax purposes. That’s right—you get to write these donations off on your taxes. Which is why we’ve included a summary of all the contributions you’ve made to our church this year.
But the other reason for this letter is to let you know what we’ve done with the money you gave. We take stewardship very seriously, which means we value spending our time and resources wisely.
During the year, our church supported local nonprofits, sent global missions teams, and baptised quite a few people. It was a great year for us—thanks in large part to donors like you.
So thank you for your support of our church, and we hope you’ll consider continuing to contribute to our mission in the coming year.
[your name]  

5. Church Fundraising Letter

Sometimes you need to make a more significant financial push using tried and true church fundraising ideas. Some churches call this a Stewardship Campaign or a Church Capital Campaign. Either way, the goal is to raise a certain amount of money for a big project. And typically, a solid letter of appeal is an integral part of that.

Dear [first name],
God has a plan for everyone and everything. That includes you, and it includes [church name]. None of us can fully know God’s plan—the best we can do is pray and listen for clarity. Our church leadership has been doing just that and are excited to announce our latest church project.
[Detail the outline of the major church project—this could include a building campaign, or raising support for a global mission trip. Anything specific to your church that requires a fundraising letter. Be sure to include a fundraising goal so everyone knows what you’re shooting for.]
But we can’t pull this off without your support. Whether you give to the church on a regular basis, or just attend on occasion, we’re asking you to consider contributing to this massive undertaking prayerfully. It’s something we need our entire church community’s help with.
Even if you can’t make a large gift, know that every little bit helps. It’s more about coming together as a community united behind a common cause. We hope that you’ll consider making a donation towards this great step forward that we’re making together.
[your name]

Tips when writing church donation letters

It’s not enough to just copy and paste this content and send away. The key to an effective church donation letter is a touch of personalization. Follow these tips to take your donation letters to the next level:

  • Examples: Add specific examples of how your church will use the donation. Tell a story about the work your church is doing in the community and connect that with giving.
  • Personalization: For regular donors, don’t be afraid to add a short, handwritten personal note. This shows that you’ve singled them out with praise.
  • Timeliness: Sending donation letters quickly reminds people you’re thankful for them. But this also takes organization and efficiency. All the more reason to use pre-written templates.
  • Storytelling: Everything is better with stories—including donation letters. Weave in a specific narrative of how your church is making a difference and how the money will be used.

There’s no one right or wrong way to write a donation letter or request contributions. You’ve got to do what is right for your church and congregation. But if you stick to these general tips, you’ll probably start to see some traction when it comes to giving.

What’s next?

Most people don’t love talking about money in church. But it’s a necessary and vital part of your church. And maximizing your efforts when it comes to donation letters will help make those conversations more comfortable. So what do you do next to put this into effect?

  • Customize these letters: Take the samples above and make them work for your church. Personalize the content. Remove the stuff that doesn’t sound genuine and add in stuff that does. Remember that these are just a starting point.
  • Create some systems: Develop processes that make it easy for you to replicate sending donation letters. Use a letter template that allows you to drop in names and details. Then develop guidelines for when these letters will be sent out.
  • Empower a champion: Find out who is going to be responsible for making these letters happen. Rather than thinking of this as adding more work to their plate, think about how you can elevate their work. This could be a staff member, or a volunteer.
  • Start sending: All of this will be for nothing if you don’t actually send out the letters. Take the time to get it right and get them into the hands of your church donors.

And if you’re looking for ways to grow your church’s giving capacity, Tithely can help.

We provide several different ways your church members can support your church financially—from online giving, text to give solutions, and giving kiosks.

Tithely’s systems make it as easy as possible for people to give to your church. Now all you need to start doing is generating a culture of gratitude. There’s nothing standing in your way. Go unleash generosity in your church.

How does your church use donation letters to spread generosity? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Robert Carnes. Robert is a writer and storyteller. He's the author of The Original Storyteller: Become a Better Storyteller in 30 Days. A former church communicator and nonprofit marketer, Robert works as a managing editor for Orange in Atlanta.


5 Scientific Reasons Why Giving is Rewarding