Charles LaFond

Charles LaFond, Heading Home Advancement Director

Have you ever wondered what makes one human want to give a gift to another human?  The answer is surprising.

I had always assumed it was compassion, or empathy, or generosity.  And indeed all three play a role on the front end.  But the actual decision to make a gift to another human being, or to an agency that helps other human beings, is biological human survival.

We humans have evolved over time to be biologically encouraged to give through our brain chemistry and neurology.  This is so because, unlike our reptilian cousins, we have evolved to want to work and love together.  Snakes are different.  Seconds after birth, the babies are on their own.  Parents connect in no way.  They simply hunt, defend themselves and die.  Our brains, however, have developed beyond the amygdala — that reptilian part of our brain which still manages fight or flight — such that a larger brain formed to apply compassion to our lives and connection as a survival skill. The idea is that we are better and stronger together.  It is from this biological reality from which the philosophy of “love” has emerged.

The word “philanthropy” is derived from the Greek words for “love” and “humans.” The act of giving money to a cause is part of the expression of “love” towards others.

Recent improvements in neurology indicate that we can now pinpoint exactly where the brain lights up when we give away a gift.  Surprisingly, this is also the point on the brain which lights up when we receive a spontaneous gift.

What this tells us is that we are biologically inclined to love through philanthropy, whether it is a $10 gift to the guy in a Santa suit, a $1,000 pledge to an agency like Heading Home, or five dollars at a stop sign to a man holding a cardboard sign.

When you give to Heading Home, you are giving through the agency to people who are experiencing homelessness. That gift is an expression of what you are biologically inclined to do.

In the end, we ask ourselves two things before we make a gift to an agency which serves human beings, whether it is a spontaneous pledge or a ticket to the November 4th Hacienda Ball:

  1. Is the agency I give to involved in what I care about? Does their meaning-making overlap with mine?
  2. Do they deserve my money? What is the return on my investment and will it change lives and ease suffering?

Well, the answer to the first question is clear since you are reading this article on our website or newsletter. The second question is answered when qualified individuals testify about Heading Home as a good investment.

Why not take a few minutes to listen what others say about Heading Home and then, go ahead and make your gift to Heading Home today.