How to Use Your Birthday to Make a Difference

by Jessica Sommerfield · 5 comments

What if celebrating your birthday could change someone’s life? What if your special day could effect positive change? Well, this is a possibility now. There are non-profits that allow you to donate your birthday to charity.

The idea intrigued me, especially since my birthday is next week. When I first thought about it, I had images of donating my birthday cake, or giving up my plans to spend any money on a nice dinner or a trip to the movies. But donating your birthday, isn’t about giving up what you have. It’s more than that.

If you’re thinking of donating your special day to charity, here’s what you need to know.

Expressing Your Gratitude

Enjoying a special treat or outing for your birthday is appropriate and expected. But stop and think about whether you actually need anything. Do you have a home, a vehicle, a job, food to eat and clothes to wear? Well, then you’re better off than many other people around the world.

This isn’t supposed to make you feel guilty for enjoying something nice on your special day. Rather, it should help you appreciate the fact that you’re in a place in life where the basics are not a problem. Sure, we may say we need something new, like a coffeemaker, a suit, or even a computer.

But what we mean is that we currently have one that’s not meeting our standards. That, in itself, is the opposite of need! Starting with this concept, a growing number of people have begun to take a look at how they can fulfill someone else’s need on their birthday.

Donating Your Special Day

I read a blog post from a writer who realized he didn’t need anything for his special day and decided to take the opportunity to use it as a fundraising event for a charity he feels passionately about.

He set up an event on his blog, which linked to his charity, and allowed people to donate electronically towards his cause. If you have a website platform like this available you can go about it this way.

Otherwise, many non-profit organizations have their own recommendations on how to do this, but if you’re not affiliated with a particular charity, you can visit sites like CharityBirthday.com to create a birthday donate campaign for one of many well-known charity organizations.

In this example, my blogger friend donated his birthday to Charity Water, by:

  • Setting up a goal for the amount he wanted to raise
  • Suggesting donation amounts based on multiples of his age
  • Campaigning among his friends and family to reach this goal

Many people utilizes social media accounts, personal blogs, or create a crowdfunding events to get the word out. But however you do it, the idea is to use your birthday as a day to raise awareness about your cause.

Celebrities, athletes, and politicians are all joining this trend, which could transform the way we think about giving to charity and fundraising.

Getting Perspective on Investing

Research shows that younger generations feel disengaged from traditional giving and gravitate more toward the concept of investing in causes rather than simply donating to them.

Perhaps this is because the increasing value placed on future goals and making money work for you. If you’d like to donate your birthday but don’t feel drawn to any particular charity, do some research to find one that has transparent financial records, and shows evidence of making money work in projects that have lasting value.

If you view giving up a day that’s all about you as an opportunity to divert that attention toward investment in a good cause, you’re more likely to feel like you are truly making a difference.

In this case, you can help someone else have birthday cake, and eat it too.

Are you considering donating your special day? What’s another way your birthday can positively affect someone else?

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  • Jessica Sommerfield says:

    Russ,
    That is so awesome! Your sister is a perfect example of giving back in a very personal and meaningful way. I hope she’s able to raise all the funds she needs and more! Thanks for sharing such a good example.

  • Russ Frazier says:

    This is a great article! My sister is actually doing this. She turned 40 last week, and for her birthday, she is raising funds to provide 40 wheelchairs to 40 individuals who might never have access to one. She’s giving mobility to these people. The cool thing is… she, herself, has been in a wheelchair since birth. She’s using her birthday as a platform to give back.

  • Brian says:

    I like how birthdays as a way to actually give back to the outside world are taking off as a general concept– these ideas are a great way to get people brainstorming.

  • Andrew G says:

    I’m hesitant to broadcast this, but since this concept wasn’t mentioned in the article: for one birthday I invited people to volunteer with me at Habitat for Humanity for a day; then we celebrated over dinner together later that evening. It’s something I’d like to do more often. The foreman said that he’s seen people do that before actually, and they call it a “birthday build.” I think it’s fun and a good bonding experience in addition to helping a low-income family build or remodel a nice home. The family oftentimes participates in the building as well, so you get to meet the people you’re helping. Just make sure that everybody signs up for that date and location well in advance because the spots fill up.

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