Here's how to help Hurricane _________ victims

As Hurricane Harvey left a path of destruction in Texas, I was glad that two years ago our firm made the decision to help the people of Houston.

At the time, we didn't know when Harvey would hit, or even where, or even that the storm would be named Harvey. But we knew that, at some point, someone would need Convoy of Hope to provide assistance. So, we decided to commit 5% of our annual revenue to Convoy for the next few years.

As of September 5th, Convoy has served 46 cities and over 125,000 Texans, and has delivered almost 3 million pounds of food and supplies to Harvey's victims.

Hurricane Irma spins over the Caribbean

Hurricane Irma spins over the Caribbean

Now, as Irma approaches Haiti, Convoy already has teams in place. They've been serving tens of thousands of children there for many years. They'll be on the ground in Florida, too, if needed.

It isn't a new concept , but it's one that science continues to prove: People who decide to be generous are happier and healthier than their stingier counterparts. It's one of the most important financial concepts that I'm trying to teach my kids (and our clients): Take the first portion of your allowance (or income), and give it away. Save the next portion. And spend the rest on whatever you want to spend it on.

Those that decide to give out of what's leftover end up texting the American Red Cross to provide a $10 donation, probably as an emotional response to the devastation. There's not anything wrong with donating $10 to the Red Cross when they need it most, but neither the donor nor the recipient of the assistance benefit nearly as much as the person who decides to give a way a specific percentage of their income to specific causes for predetermined reasons.

So, how to begin?

  • First, who to support? Well, what are you passionate about? Charity Navigator is a great resource to match your passions with the most effective organizations.

  • Second, decide on an appropriate portion of your income to give away. 2%? 5%? 10%? More? The perplexing fact is that higher income earners tend to give away proportionally less to charity than those of more modest means. Go figure.

  • Then, just like most personal-finance related items, giving tends to be better done when it's automated. Setup a recurring automatic bill pay from your bank account to mail a check to your favorite organizations on payday. Or, better yet, establish a donor advised fund to receive your donation of cash or appreciated securities, then grant from there. If you don't give first, you're likely to spend it and give from what's leftover.

  • Monitor the organizations you're supporting. Keep in touch with their projects and their development team. Giving is more fun when you form a relationship with the recipient.

We've started to build a relationship with Convoy of Hope (along with other organizations that we support) and we're glad we did. Not only have we met some terrific people but we've joined the team to do our part is helping that wonderful organization help others in dire need.

Need more resources?

Read: The Paradox of Generosity

Watch: How to Be Rich

David Sylvester