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“It’s My Birthday. Can You Donate to My Charity?”

A look at the new trend on social media

Photo by Leontina on Reshot

If you’ve been on social media lately, you’ve probably experienced this dilemma. Your friend posts that her birthday is coming up, and announces she’d like to direct donations to a charitable cause.

Do you give, or do you click away?

I think it’s great that people are thinking beyond themselves. I don’t really need anything for my birthday, and I could see myself directing donations to a cause I care about. However, it’s important to consider where the money is going, and how it’s going to be used.

And when it seems like everyone is asking for donations, how do you decide when (or if) you donate? If you want to donate your birthday to the cause, how do you make sure people participate? Here are some tips for navigating the birthday charity trend.

Research the charity

Websites like Charity Navigator can help you determine if the charity is legitimate and aligns with your values. You may also want to check the charity’s web site or search for news articles about them. All charities have some level of administrative costs, but look for charities that spend a high percentage of what they receive on their core mission.

You also want to think about your values. Do you want to give to a charity that focuses on cancer research, or one that donates supplies and money directly to cancer patients? Do you want to support a national organization, or a local one that may have more impact in your community? It’s a personal choice, and one that you should think about.

Consider donating directly

Facebook takes a 5% cut of charity donations, something people might not be aware of. You may want to consider donating directly to the charity’s web site to donate, or sending them a check.

Personalize it

In my experience, people are more likely to donate if someone is also putting in effort, like running a race and asking for donations to a charitable cause, or organizing a food and supplies drive for an animal shelter. That way, people see that you’re serious and can get involved with you.

Many charities don’t just need money, but also your time or supplies. Check out their web site for ideas about what they need and accept. For example, many domestic violence charities will accept used cell phones. They can be used to call 911 without a plan.

Avoid the mailing list

If you donate to charities, a lot will bombard you with letters or postcards asking for more money. Some people have told me that they never donate to charity for this reason.

In my experience, if you specify that this is a one-time donation in by request of someone, you won’t be added to the mailing list. So that’s not really something you need to worry about. If you do get on the mailing list, you can send an e-mail asking to unsubscribe.

Overall, donating your birthday to a charity, or supporting a friend who has, is great way to raise money and support a cause. Just make sure you do some research and go about it in the way that’s right for you.

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