When experts were compiling this year’s annual World Happiness Report, they took a number of different variables into account to judge a population’s happiness. GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption and generosity were all part of the equation.1
Of all these factors, generosity was consistently recorded to have one of the highest positive affects on the population and to produce the lowest negative overall effect. To evaluate a country’s level of generosity, participants were asked, “Have you donated to charity in the past month?”
The UK is, according to these results, the 21st happiest country in the world. Since the UK Giving Report 2014, 57% of adults in this country are regularly donating to charities – to a sum of around £10.6 billion. So how does giving to those in need correlate to happiness?
Research has shown that people who are giving money to charity exhibit heightened brain activity – particularly in the ventral striatum and tegmental parts of our brain. These areas are closely linked to the experience of positivity and our physiological reward system and the processing of emotional output from the amygdala. What this means is that the act of donation triggers a chemical reaction in our brains that produces a sense of reward and positive emotion. Not only this, but it is well documented that those who regularly give feel healthier both physically and mentally.
If giving blindly encourages optimism, imagine how good it would feel knowing that you have helped a fellow colleague, peer or even quite possibly, someone you know. Because the BDA Benevolent Fund has been providing this type of vital support since its establishment in 1882, the team are more than aware of the gratitude felt by all of its beneficiaries.
When speaking about the Fund, one recipient, who shall remain anonymous for confidentiality reasons, put this into context: “I treasure every action and gesture from people who have helped me and the children cope with cruelty and hardship. Your help means a great deal to me. I will never forget it.”
For others, the work of the Fund and the thanks felt towards dentists who donate is seen as more than a helping hand, it has saved their lives.
“To be perfectly honest, before I met the general manager, I was seriously considering suicide. I had a very low opinion of the human race, but your response to me has made me reconsider that there are still some decent human beings after all.”
But most of all, the financial support that the BDA Benevolent Fund provides is the answer when all other channels have failed. “Please accept my heartfelt thanks for giving me an emergency grant. I’m truly not sure how I would have managed otherwise.”
By offering essential monetary assistance to dentists and their families during difficult or unexpected financial hardships, the Fund helps many dental professionals get their lives back on track. While it may feel good to give, offering a sense of reward and pride in aiding those less fortunate, donating is essentially about one thing – improving the lives of those in need.
Before Dr. T needed to take time off work to have life-saving surgery, I bet she’d never considered that one day she’d need financial support from the BDA Benevolent Fund. But after her husband left her and she was struggling to support two young children, the Fund offered assistance in her darkest hour. Now that Dr. T has a monthly grant to cover costs while she is recovering, and a loan to help pay for child-care costs accrued whilst she was in and out of hospital, it is not hard to guess how she feels about the Fund now.
For the good work to continue and to change more lives for the better, the Fund needs your donations. Entirely dependant on your generosity, the BDA Benevolent Fund asks for your help to make sure that your colleagues are not left alone in times of personal crisis.
The BDA Benevolent Fund relies on your help to continue its work,
or to give a donation today go to www.bdabenevolentfund.org.uk.
And if you are in need of help yourself, please contact us now.
All enquiries are considered in confidence.
Registered charity no. 208146
 Moll, J., et al. (2006). Human fronto-mesolimbic networks guide decisions about charitable donation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103(42)