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Be Selfish: Give to Colorado Flood Victims

Donating to charity by text, by phone or on the web can give you a jolt of good feelings, experts say.

Kenny O'Gorman and Delfino Ortega help clean up Terri Jo and Jeff Cast's basement in Johnstown, Colo. (Credit: AP Photo)
Kenny O'Gorman and Delfino Ortega help clean up Terri Jo and Jeff Cast's basement in Johnstown, Colo. (Credit: AP Photo)
As Colorado residents continue to evacuate flooded areas, a heavyhearted America looks on. If you need to cheer up, the best solution may be to make a donation.

There’s been a lot written lately about the relationship between charitable giving and happiness. Conversely, there’s a detected link between guilt and inaction in the face of urgency. As Michal Ann Strahilevitz, Ph.D. reported for Psychology Today, much of this research points to “the observation that helping others can affect emotional well-being.”


“Beyond short-term emotional perks, giving has several long-term benefits as well,” Strahilevitz writes.

To test this idea in an unscientific survey, I donated $10 through three different means—by phone, by text, and via the web—and to three different organizations—a national organization’s general fund, a national organization designating money for the Colorado floods, and a Colorado-based organization.

The American Red Cross, via text:  I texted REDCROSS to 90999 to donate.
Donation time: 7 seconds.
How did it make me feel?
The donation was quick, easy, and untargeted. Intellectually, I’m glad I’m supporting the Red Cross, but it barely registers emotionally.

The Salvation Army, over the phone: I called 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769) and designated my donation as “Colorado Floods.”
Donation time: 6 minutes and 10 seconds.
How did it make me feel? Pretty good. I don’t enjoy talking to call center operators, but I did it for a good cause.

Foothills Flood Relief Fund, over the web: Denver’s ABC News website reported that this branch of the United Way would support “immediate relief as well as longer-term recovery in Boulder and Broomfield Counties.”
Donation time: 2 minutes and 33 seconds.
How did it make me feel? Great. There’s a special thrill in giving to a local organization that’s far away from you.

How do you make time to give back? Tell us in the comments or in a blog post.
Bill Fasula September 18, 2013 at 01:14 PM
That covers about $7.7 million of the $11.4 million that was raised through the United Way charities. So like many people, you're probably asking, "What about the rest of it?" The remaining $3.7 million is being set aside for "long-term assistance in the community," a decision that has angered some residents who feel more of the the money, if not all, should go directly to the victims' families.

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