This press release popped up in my mailbox today and it looks like a great option for people who want to give money to Katrina, but don't want their contribution to be lost in the billions the government, relief agencies, and generous individuals are already pouring into the region.
Consider making an investment in a community investment fund, such as the CRA Qualified Investment Fund (www.crafund.com). It's a socially responsible bond fund that buys fixed-income securities in cities and states to finance affordable housing, small business loans, job creation, health care, schools and economic development. The fund is trying to raise $100 million (it already has $50 million) to go to redevelop Katrina-hit areas.
According to Morningstar, which only rates the fund three stars (out of five), the fund is up 3% this year and gained 4% last year. That's not very exciting, but its 6% five-year annualized return looks a lot better than a typical S&P 500 Index fund, which has lost 2% a year for the past five years.