My View: The benefits of generosity

My View: The benefits of generosity
Heather Peeler. (Courtesy photo)

By Heather Peeler, President and CEO of ACT

Do you remember the first time you donated to a cause that was important to you? My first significant donation was an alternative spring break in college. I teamed up with 10 other students from Wellesley College and we rented a van, drove to Appalachia and volunteered with Habitat for Humanity for a week. 

To make the trip possible, I asked friends and family for their support. I also saved money from my campus job to donate to the effort. It stretched me in new ways, and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Essentially it inspired me to build my career in the nonprofit sector.

It’s well proven that generosity is good for us. Whether you give your time, talents or treasure, generosity reduces stress, improves physical health and leads to overall wellbeing. If you take a minute to reflect, I’m sure you can list dozens of benefits that you’ve received from your own giving over the years.

For example, perhaps it was a way to demonstrate your faith, or it helped you establish new relationships or strengthen social ties. Or perhaps your experience with generosity was
like mine and connected you to new passions that had a significant influence on your life. And don’t forget about the gratification of knowing you are helping someone in need.

I am only a few months into my role as the President and CEO at ACT for
Alexandria and it’s clear that Alexandria is a very generous community. Spring2ACTion – Alexandria’s Giving Day, hosted by ACT, is a perfect example of the spirit of philanthropy in Alexandria.

Last year, more than 9,000 people contributed nearly $1.6 million to 158 nonprofits. Since 2011, Alexandrians have given more than $6 million through Spring2ACTion, making it one of the most successful city-wide giving days in the country.

Even with the strong spirit of philanthropy in Alexandria, there is more we can do. According to “How America Gives,” a report from the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the Washington D.C. metropolitan region is below the national average in terms of giving by income. The Chronicle of Philanthropy estimates that if residents in the DMV gave at the national average, there would be nearly $550 million in additional resources to support area nonprofits.

This year, Spring2ACTion takes place on April 25. This is the perfect time to do more. Please join us on April 25 to support the nonprofit organizations serving our community.
From the arts to veterans and everything in between, there are many opportunities for each of us to go above and beyond with our giving and reap the rewards of generosity – both for ourselves and our community. Learn more at

The writer is President and CEO of ACT for Alexandria.