Gratitude as a Path to Elevate Giving

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Gratitude as a Path to Elevate Giving to Health Causes Betsy Chapin Taylor, FAHP President, Accordant Philanthropy Health charities--whether hospitals, hospices, air ambulance organisations or others-- have a unique and powerful connection with those they serve. Health care is intimate and personal. It can be raw. It can be emotionally charged and high stakes. Many patients who seek or require care experience a heightened sense of vulnerability as they place not only their bodies but also their hopes in the hands of a medical consultant or health worker. A common thread across different health experiences is that those who receive care often express feelings of gratitude--and the reason for gratitude is generally not directly about the provision of care. For example, securing appropriate treatment from a hospital or having a safe air ambulance flight are an expectation. However, emotional and social support--such as demonstrations of compassion, kindness and empathy--are seen as going above and beyond. Many grateful patients also express the importance of believing a health worker acted out of genuine goodwill or of feeling "seen" as a fellow human being worthy of care. Ultimately, "gratitude" occurs when one receives a benefit that not only was unsolicited and unearned but also demonstrates "responsiveness to the needs and preferences of the recipient" to make her feel "understood, validated or cared for." 1 It's often simple, human and humane acts that exceed a patient's expectations and spark gratitude. The concept of gratitude is seemingly simple and straightforward; however, gratitude's depth and complexity are often underestimated. Significant scientific research from the fields of psychology and neuroscience show gratitude's association with "activity in areas of the brain that deal with morality, reward, and value judgment." 2 Dr. Neel Burton, a Fellow 1 Algoe, S.B., Stanton, A.L., Emotion, American Psychological Association, 2012, Vol 12, no 1, 163-168, "Gratitude when it is needed most: social functions of gratitude in women with metastatic breast cancer" 2 Fox, G.R., Kaplan, J., Damasio, H., Damasio, A. (2015) Neural Correlates of Gratitude. Frontiers in Psychology 6(1), 1491, doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01491 October 2019 1 +44 (0) 203 932 1600 | |

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