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Donate Your Birthday for Needy Students

Hosting birthday parties and asking the guests to bring gifts for needy people, or canned goods for the hungry, is nothing new. But I think it is a new idea when charitable organizations find unique and creative ways to take advantage of giving trends like this. And that’s exactly what DonorsChoose.org has done with its latest charity campaign, “The Great Big Birthday Give-Back.”

The program, led by spokesperson and funny man Stephen Colbert, was launched in May of 2009 when Colbert posted his birthday giving page to donate back his “16th” birthday. More than 130 donors supported Stephen’s May 13th birthday and donated more than $8,000 for needy classrooms. Another celebrity with a May 13th birthday is Darius Rucker, lead singer of “Hootie and the Blowfish.” His donated birthday brought in more than $5,000 to support classroom projects in his home state of South Carolina.

What it comes down to is a great method of using the internet to generate donations. If you wish to “donate” your birthday, simply go online to donorschoose.org and create a birthday giving page. Then, select a few teacher-posted projects that you feel strongly about and post them to your gift registry. Finally, spread the word about how you’ve donated your birthday by e-mailing friends and family, posting your birthday giving page on Facebook, or adding a widget to your blog or website.

You’ll be able to track donations online. And, once your selected projects have been fully funded, donors Choose will purchase and mail the requested items directly to the classroom. You’ll even get to see pictures of the students you helped, and you’ll receive thank-you notes from them too. It’s a brilliant, but easy, way for anyone to be charitable.

The birthday giveback program, and a similar wedding registry giveback, are the latest ways that Donors Choose has put the power of the donation into the hands of the donor. The organization was started in the year 2000 by Bronx high school teacher Charles Best, who saw first-hand how students in low-income schools suffered from the lack of funding. Best knew that many people would likely support these schools if only they could control how their donations were used. So, he created a way that teachers could post their needs and let donors choose to fund the projects they were most passionate about. Hence, donorschoose.org was born.

Since Donors Choose first started, more than $54 million dollars has been raised to help support more than 3 million school children in America. I’d call that a pretty successful internet-based charity program, wouldn’t you? So, even though my birthday is not until January, I’ve already posted my birthday giving page. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday than to give it away to someone who could use it more than me. How about you?


The Great Big Birthday Giveback
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