Giving with One Hand...

Last Updated Jun 4, 2008 2:50 PM EDT

Proven: altruism will make you happier.

This should cheer Arpad 'Arki' Busson of hedge-fund investor EIM, who is just about to hold a fundraising dinner for his seven-year-old charity ARK ('Absolute Return for Kids').

The annual shindig is famously high-powered -- last year Busson managed to extract a record-setting £26.8m from his A-list guests, says Chris Blackhurst.

Busson is not the most generous hedgie on the block, though. According to this year's Sunday Times Rich List, the City's biggest giver is Christopher Hohn. Estimated wealth: £110m. Recent donations: £236.8m. (Doesn't add up? Well, this is the financial sector we're talking about.)

Predictions are that this year's ARK dinner, which will auction artworks by (erstwhile) YBAs at Greenwich's Royal Naval College, may yield lower returns. It may be in the hedgie's favour to bet on a favourable outcome for once.

Or he could get his high-net worth pals to give their time, rather than their money, in honour of Volunteer's Week.

Like giving, volunteering can signficantly improve your health, says the CSV. It's also becoming an increasingly important part of career development, judging by TimeBank's survey of employers:

  • 94 per cent believe it adds to their workforce's skills.
  • 58 per cent believe voluntary work can be more valuable than paid experience.
  • 25 per cent offer paid time off for employees to volunteer.
The benefits are brought back into the office, too. Employees who volunteer come back:
  • Willing to take calculated risks.
  • More respectful of co-workers and understanding of diversity.
  • More innovative.
  • Better team-workers.
  • More confident and positive in their approach.
Companies can undertake team challenges -- such as painting a local school playground -- or organise regular secondments.

Business in the Community offers an accreditation and assessment service to businesses that want to marry volunteer schemes to workplace development.

Volunteering England has a simple guide to setting up an employee volunteering scheme. It's cheaper than a Damien Hirst. And you might get to do some painting yourself.