Facebook Fundraisers for Birthdays = $$$

 

facebook fundraiser

Image source: Facebook

This blog has looked at birthday generosity and social media etiquette around birthdays in the past. So, it only makes sense to examine a merger of the two: using Facebook fundraisers on your birthday to donate to a cause you care about.

The feature began just over a year ago, and already its earned more than $300 million for various causes, per Facebook. About 750,000 non-profits currently have access to Facebook’s fundraising tools, but the feature isn’t yet available in every country.

Still, the feature itself is easy to use. You can create a birthday fundraiser for an organization that you have in mind already, or use their selection tool to find a beneficiary to support.

Top organizations benefitting from the birthday fundraisers include:

  • St. Jude
  • Alzheimer’s Association
  • American Cancer Society
  • Share Our Strength—No Kid Hungry
  • American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

And just before you shrug your shoulders at this as a way for Facebook to make money off people’s good intentions, the company in November 2017 waived fees. So 100% of all donations made on Facebook go directly to the nonprofits.

Famous Folks and Me on Facebook

This Facebook tool has been used by an array of Facebook users (or the PR handlers posing as celebrities online). The company shared:

Not wanting to make it a popularity contest or anything, but Madonna opened a fundraiser benefitting a Home of Hope orphanage located in a rural, high-need area of Malawi.

Her post noted, “For my birthday, I can think of no better gift than connecting my global family with this beautiful country and the children who need our help most. Every dollar raised will go directly to meals, schools, uniforms and healthcare.” Her fans and Facebook friends helped her surpass a million dollar goal in just two months!

Facebook fundraiser

Image source: Facebook

I did my own birthday fundraiser for my local library system’s foundation this October. At the time of this writing, I’d reached a whopping $15. I did use Madonna’s tally today to suggest that surely I could get to my $150 goal. We’ll see I guess!

Going with the Flo for Birthday Generosity

I live in a city that is bracing for residual impacts of Hurricane Florence. We’re expecting heavy rains and high winds tomorrow. Already the trees in my backyard are dancing, and the kids in the neighborhood are too (since they’ve been out of school since Wednesday afternoon). I’m a little anxious about what might be coming our way. But, this happy hurricane-related birthday generosity helped me feel better.

In other parts of North Carolina, there have been evacuations and Flo came to shore howling hard. But, Red Cross workers in Hay River, N.C. still found time to share the birthday spirit. Upon learning that two teens in their shelter were having birthdays, they held an impromptu birthday party. They brought in a cake to serve and pizza for a shared celebration for the displaced 11-year-old and a 13-year-old.

“It’s the most humbling experience you’ll ever have. It really is, to see people happy and to know they feel comfortable and they feel safe, is our reward. That’s what we appreciate,” a Red Cross worker at the shelter told a CBS News outlet.

I appreciate the feel-good story related to birthdays. My stress levels about the pending storm may even have gone down while writing this!

Plus, while looking for a good image to use with this blog, I came across an article entitled: “You’ve Been Cutting Birthday Cake Wrong For Your Entire Life.” Oh my goodness, you know there is a blog waiting to happen there! I’ll get that one out to you in October (just before celebrating my own birthday—Yippee).

Restaurant Birthday Etiquette

I read with some surprise recently a Miss Manners entitled: “I can’t believe they did this on my birthday.” The person who wrote into the syndicated columnist was “appalled” by the restaurant offering him a “large dessert of the restaurant’s choosing with a showy sparkler stuck into it.”

He and his wife had gone to a restaurant on his birthday. “A sign at the door advertised a special reward when paying the bill if you were dining on your birthday.” He mentioned his birthday to the waitress and was then “hugely embarrassed” when she arrived at the table with a dessert he could not share with his wife (she didn’t like it). Plus, “now everybody in the restaurant knew it was my birthday.”

He wrote, “I didn’t want to hurt the feelings of the waitress, so I feigned delight and ate the dessert. I really wanted to share a dessert with my wife, but because of the actions of the waitress, I was cheated out of this opportunity and I’m not very happy about it.”

He wrote to Miss Manners wondering how he should have handled this better.

The Mannered Response

She suggests that the restaurant did not do a good job of tailoring its service to its customer need. She even argues, “A more astute wait-person would indeed have noticed that you had not ordered your dinner from the children’s menu, and may have been able to adjust the reward accordingly.” There’s also a joke about a free pony ride.

Still, unless you have never eaten out in a restaurant before, how could you not expect there would be a dessert and some sort of hoopla. At least it wasn’t one of the restaurants where all the waitstaff available are pressed into service serenading the guest.

This man asked for the “reward.” What else could he have been expecting? A discount would be my guess. Yet restaurant after restaurant has made a sparkler or candle in a slice of cake, often with a song, the go-to response to birthdays. The cake is free. That’s the discount. But the price you pay is not getting to choose the dessert they serve.

I also to share my umbrage that Miss Manners equates this birthday “reward” with the kid’s menu. If you don’t want to be feted in public, don’t tell the waitstaff of a public restaurant it’s your birthday. Otherwise, don’t infantilize those who enjoy a little birthday pomp and circumstance on their special day — regardless of their age.

One last thing, imagine how chagrined these correspondents would have been to get the birthday surprise at this restaurant near my house. It’s really a showy sparkler!

birthday sparkler

 

Birthday Dictatorship — The Gift Registry

birthday wish list

Foter.com

Good Morning America recently asked its loyal Facebook fans to weigh in on whether or not “it’s ever OK for parents to request gift cards or create registries for their kids when hosting a birthday party.”

Kids, of course, would love this. My own son would be at Target with his portable scanner beep-booping over Magic cards, phone supplies, video games…and then he’d want to go do the same at Dick’s Sporting Goods too.

birthday wish list

One parent, a mother of 5, was onboard. “[A] gift card allows the kids to pick out their own stuff and also shows them money sense,” she wrote. “They know how much they have to spend and they can spend up to that amount, or use their money and add to it if what they want costs more. Gift cards are a godsend if u [sic] ask me.”

Plus, she has five kids. Think of all the junk that would otherwise fill up her house after a birthday party!

Another respondent, though, made an equally good point: “A child should learn that any gift is OK…It’s the thought that counts. Too many spoiled entitled kids today.”

GMA asked an etiquette expert too. Elaine Swann said, “The bringing of gifts is a gesture of goodwill and when we start to set standards and ask for gifts in this particular instance, I think it’s setting the wrong precedence in terms of entitlement.”

A Generous Alternative

One of the respondents suggested what has become my favorite alternative to birthday gifts — giving to charity instead. I am happy to report it is becoming increasingly common for me to see a news story about a young person:

  • Doing a pet food donation drive
  • Sking for donations to a charitable organization in lieu of gifts
  • Donating their presents to a homeless shelter or Ronald McDonald house.
  • Getting people together for a birthday party where they make sandwiches for a homeless shelter.

Young people are using their birthdays as an opportunity to do acts of generosity for others!

I was able to get my son to take this approach for a few years, but then he got older and realized his friends were getting gifts, and he wanted the same thing. I suggest the alternative each year, but I’m not going to foist it upon him.

In the meantime, I’ve become one of those Moms who provides a gift card instead of a present. Yet, I won’t be allowing my child to openly ask for cash or register for gifts any time soon.

 

 

 

Stranger Makes Birthday Surprise Complete

Birthdays can bring out the best in people. Not always in the person actually celebrating the birthday — she can get a bit demanding (she writes while pointing to herself). But other people often really step up to help someone celebrate a birthday and feel loved. That is the big reason I love birthdays so much.

Here’s a great example from Canada (my native land).

Birthday surprise

A Halifax woman who wanted to surprise her mother for her birthday turned to Reddit for help. The thing was her Mom lives 4,000 kilometres away, in a tiny rural community in Manitoba, nearly four hours northwest of Winnipeg, where there aren’t any floral delivery shops.

So, Alison Hill, put a post on Reddit the night before her mother’s 71st birthday to see if anyone nearby was willing to bring her mother flowers. Within minutes someone had volunteered!

Hill ordered flowers in Dauphin, Man., about a 40-minute drive from her mom’s place, and offered to pay for the gas. But the man wouldn’t take it.

The Surprise Happens

The next day, Tia Hill was sitting in her front yard enjoying birthday wine with her husband and a few neighbors. She told the CBC she said, “If I had known we were having company, I would have baked a cake.”

Moments later, a grey truck pulled up and a man got out to ask if she was Tia. When she said she was, the man went around to the passenger side and came back with an urn full of salmon pink hibiscus and a birthday cake.

The flowers were from Alison and her three-year-old son. The carrot cake was a surprise for both women.

“A perfect stranger,” Tia Hill remarked. “She just ordered the flowers, he ordered the cake. And I was so taken aback. What a wonderful thing to do for somebody.”

Alison Hill added, “I thought that was amazing. It never even occurred to me to get her a cake — I just wanted to send her flowers!”

Tia Hill even called the florist to track the man down and thank him, but he had given a different name there than he gave on Reddit. “I don’t know who this man is, but he came with flowers and a birthday cake, so I love him to death,” Tia Hill said.

Alison Hill wrote back to thank the man too:  “He just said that I’m very welcome, and he does these things because he hopes someday someone will look out for his mom, too.”

 

Birthday Surprise for Military Son

birthday surprise

Image source

I’m a fan of creative gift-giving. My friends did a scavenger hunt for me to find my present in college, and I loved it. I have aunts who sent the same plastic figure back and forth to each other embedded in other gifts. I’ve done the big box of empty to faux disappoint a child. Plus, a lump of coal for my husband one Christmas.

So, I get the idea behind the birthday gift prank played on the boy in this MilitaryKind video I saw shared on Facebook:

 

Birthday Prank

The boy is given a big box with more boxes inside of it. At one point he opens one to find a letter, which has him in tears reading out loud how his Dad won’t be able to make it home for his birthday. So sad. Then, he keeps on opening more boxes…Finally, he hits a note that says “Surprise” and out comes Dad — home after all.

Perhaps not as surprising is the mixed reactions on Facebook. Some people thought the whole thing so sweet — Father and Son reunion after all. Others were upset about the cruel trick played on the little boy.

One wrote: “Why put the kid through the emotional trauma of the first part of this surprise by first lying to him??? Cruel.”

I appreciated this response to that perspective: “…guess all of you saying how cruel this is have never done anything to tease anyone in your lives.”

Still, the comments made me view the video again in a different light. I’ve decided taking out the letter part, where the kid’s hopes are crushed, could have had the same surprise impact and softened the blow.

What’s the cruelest/cleverest thing you’ve done to celebrate a friend’s birthday?

Fraudsters Exploit Birthdays & Best Intentions

This blog recently covered a sweet story of two girls who see themselves as “birthday twins,” despite racial differences (and the fact that their birthdays are days away from one another). Recently, though, news came out of China of a fraudulent online fundraising campaign capitalizing on the idea of a “birthday twin.”

Chinese social media users were invited to type in their birthdays to find and donate to an impoverished student, born on the same day in a rural province. This sounds like a lovely way to personalize giving….

Until the 0fenbei site was accused of fraud. Screenshots published in Modern Express, a Nanjing-based newspaper, show a photo of the same girl offered up as having two different birthdays. In one result, “A Bi,” is born on Jan. 3, 2009, in southwestern China’s Yunnan province. In another, the girl’s name is “Gui Bi,” with a birthday of Nov. 24, 2009.

Another screenshot shows that “Xiao Dan,” another girl from Yunnan, was born on Feb. 29, 2009 — a date that doesn’t exist.

birthday giving

Birthday Giving Done Right

Wang Li, 0fenbei’s founder, issued a statement apologizing for inadequate scrutiny of students’ information, explaining that the publishing process was rushed. “There are six kids whose information is wrong,” he admitted.

The campaign, in which all donations were to have gone to Ai You Future Foundation, a Shenzhen-based charity that collaborates with 0fenbei, is now closed for donations. Yet, the site claims to have already raised more than 2.5 million yuan for 2,130 students.

Shenzhen’s civil affairs bureau is currently investigating the claims of suspicious identities.

Meanwhile, let’s end this blog on a positive note with one more of the now easy to find examples of people using their birthdays to show kindness to others. Just the week of writing this I came across these examples: