We’ve all heard the saying ‘no good deed goes unpunished’ but it isn’t always the case. Sometimes those good deeds are not only appreciated, they are also rewarded with a financial boon. We’re thinking this means there’s an economic value for being a good person, so we decided to illustrate exactly why. Let’s start with a few everyday people that saw their one random act of kindness rake in big rewards.
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1. Sarah Hoidahl — ROI on $27.75 = $10,000 And a Car
You might have heard about our first paragon of virtue, Sarah Hoidahl. Last October she overheard two soldiers talking about the government shutdown and how much of a financial hardship it had proved to them. Hoidahl is a waitress at Ruby Tuesday, and so she took it upon herself to pay for the two soldiers’ lunch, leaving the following note:
Thanks to the government shutdown the people like you that protect this country aren’t getting paid. However, I still am. Lunch is on me! Thank you for serving ladies!
The story quickly went viral and came to the attention of Ellen Degeneres, who not only paid the single mom back for the $27.75 meal but presented her with a check for $10,000. As if that wasn’t enough, the talk show host later presented her with a new car.
2. College Kids — Volunteered For Hurricane Katrina Victims = $8,000
Next up, how about the three college students who volunteered to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. Never in their wildest dreams did they think it would lead to an appearance on national television – and over $8,000 in gifts each. Their tale of selflessness was brought to the attention of Oprah Winfrey who invited the three students to a taping of her show – Oprah’s “Favorite Things” episode. The students walked away with laptops, iPods, diamond watches and numerous other items. “It was her way of saying thanks to us,” said one of the students, Alexandria Rossetti in a Daily Press article. Thank, indeed!
3. Billy Ray Harris — Returned A Ring = $200,000
It’s not just those with time and money to spare that like to pay it forward. How about a homeless man Billy Ray Harris? The Missouri transient spotted a ring in his change cup after its owner, Sarah Darling, dropped in a donation. He quickly returned the ring and Darling, inspired by his honesty, set up a GiveForward fund for him. When the fundraiser ended, Darling had raised nearly $200,000 for Harris. Talk about a big reward!
4. Fan Of Chris Brown — Returns Rolex = 2 VIP Concert Tickets
Celebrities have big hearts too. At the 2011 MV Video Music Awards, Chris Brown lost his diamond-encrusted Rolex watch. It turns out one of his fans found it on the ground. She returned it to Brown’s security team. Brown heard what happened and flew the fan to Cincinnati so he could personally thank her for her good deed.
5. Terry Hannon — Gave Gifts To Customers = Free Publicity
We think business owner Terry Hannon deserves a prize as the business owner of the year. In February, she sent each of her clients a copy of the book “Random Acts of Kindness” along with a $100 bill. She asked her business associates to do something for someone they didn’t know. Little by little she heard back from her clients. They shared tales of how they’d spent the money and the good deeds they’d performed. The words were so inspiring that Hannon, “can’t wait to get the mail every day,” according to a Sun Times article. We’re sure the article inspired some new business, too.
6. Rawley T. Farnsworth — Was A Good Teacher = Gets A Theatre Named After Him
Tom Hanks is another celebrity that likes to reward a kind gesture. Many people might remember his 1993 acceptance speech where he thanked his high school drama teacher for not only being a great teacher but inspiring him to become an actor. We bet most of you don’t know that Hanks was also helped to fund a new theatre named after his mentor. Hanks reportedly donated $100,000 of his money to renovate the theatre which was renamed in Rawley T. Farnsworth’s honor. That’s a reward that’s pretty priceless in our opinion.
7. Kathleen Connors — Paid For Stranger’s Dinner = 46 Copycats
Kathleen Connors had no idea that her one good deed would turn into 46 other kind gestures. The nurse was eating at a Vermont diner when she decided to pay for someone’s dinner with money she won at a Bingo game. The gesture spread throughout the day, 46 other customers doing the same thing. Connors didn’t gain financially from her kindness, but we’re betting Karma ensured she doubled her money at some point in the future.
8. Michael Wekall and Ryan Leander — Helped Elderly Cross The Street = Free Taylor Swift Concert
Taylor Swift put a spin on things – encouraging two of her fans, Michael Wekall and Ryan Leander, to perform a good deed to obtain a hug from the singer. The two Auburn University students had launched a website touting their goal. When the singer heard about the site, she challenged Wekall and Leander to perform a good deed – escorting elderly people across the street. The students did exactly that, in spades, helping dozens of people navigate a busy boulevard. Swift challenged them to more tasks, and in the end, rewarded not just Wekall and Leander, but scores of other Auburn University students with a private concert.
9. The Morse family — Concert Ticket = $5,000 + 3 Cars – 1 Van
Here’s another example of what happens when you pay it forward. The Morse family were the lucky recipients of a prize package awarded by Garth Brooks. The country music star wanted to reward a fan for being the 5 millionth fan to attend a concert. The Morse family purchased the coveted concert ticket, their prize package including a vacation in Cancun, $5,000 cash and not one, not two, but three new cars. They could have sold their old cars, but the Morse family decided to pay it forward, donating their family van to a church, proving that once again that good deed can lead to another.
10. Man In The Queue — Cake = Cake
Okay, this one isn’t real, but we couldn’t end this article without sharing this amazing video.
The short film illustrates beautifully how a random act of kindness — paying for a grocery item – can create a ripple effect with far reaching consequences. Be sure to have Kleenex close at hand.
But don’t just take our word for it. There’s scientific evidence that one good leads to others. In a study published by the University of California, San Diego, researchers had participants play a “public goods” game. Scientist James Fowler found that when one person received free goods from a participant, those recipients were far more likely to give their goods away.
So while we can’t guarantee a financial reward for spreading good cheer, we’re sure that you’ll feel pretty dang good about doing your good deed — and isn’t that what it’s really about?
Want to improve the ROI of your investment portfolio? Regardless of your financial position, low-cost wealth management companies can help you save more and learn how to diversify your investments without wasting your money on hefty commissions and fees.
Pamela is the author of thirty-eight romance novels with more coming out every year. She’s best known for her NASCAR romance novels, but writes non-fiction, too. Pamela’s a regular columnist for the American Quarter Horse “Journal” and writes for SuperMoney.com where she shares her personal finance tips on how to thrive in this economy.