Michelle Singletary: Make a regular plan to give, because there’s always a need


Michelle Singletary shares tips to plan how you can become a year-round giver of your time, talents or cash.

I’m in awe of the generosity and volunteer efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

There was the Chick-fil-A manager who helped an elderly couple who had called in an order for two grilled chicken burritos with extra egg, and a boat. The manager sent her husband with his boat — and some fellas on jet skis stopped to help.

Then there was the owner of a furniture store who opened his showroom full of comfy couches, display mattresses and recliners to evacuees. Many people are welcoming displaced families into their homes.

The need is immediate for tens of thousands of people in Southeast Texas and surrounding states who are suffering in ways most of us can’t imagine.

But once the floodwaters finally recede, so many people will still need help. It’s at this time that generosity can wane because the catastrophe won’t always be front and center. The media will go back to politics and other topics of the day because that’s the nature of news.

And before you know it, Thanksgiving will be here and people will once again be prompted to pitch in. They will give bags of food and volunteer at churches, soup kitchens or community centers. And then the volunteers and the money dwindle, until the next holiday — or storm — tugs at people’s hearts.

Can I ask you to do something while you’re in a giving mood?

Think and plan how you can become a year-round giver of your time, talents or cash.

Among the steadfast volunteers at my church we talk about the 80/20 rule. It’s when 20 percent of the people are responsible for 80 percent of the work and/or giving. Ask yourself where you stand in this imbalance.

There’s actually a principle behind this rule. It’s called the “Pareto Principle,” after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto.

Following a column last week about wise giving in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, I received an email from Nicole Burton of Maryland.

Burton gives. She pays dues at her synagogue, makes special High Holiday donations and contributes money to a few arts and cultural…

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