Cause Its My Birthday

By Sloane Davidson, Founder and CEO, Hello Neighbor

The idea: Celebrate my birthday in style but make it about giving instead of getting. Create a week-long party with stops around the country, all raising money for one cause. 7 days, 7 cities, 7 parties = 1 cause. Show that birthdays can be a platform for social change and anyone has the power to motivate their communities to give back.

The project: Cause It's My Birthday was born. Kicking off in New York City on October 3, 2009, we held parties every night for a week continuing onto Miami, New Orleans, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco and the finale in Los Angeles on October 9, 2009.

The partner-in-crime: Doug Campbell, whose birthday is two days away from mine and who always came from a place of "yes" and without whom the project never would have happened. A true collaboration and massive effort to pull off this massive fundraising effort.

The cause: Malaria. Malaria kills one child every 30 seconds, or 3,000 children every day! Malaria has killed more people than all wars combined, and continues to be one of the greatest public health challenges facing humans today. One net costs $5 and we felt that was a really good price point to understand the power of $5 to save a life.

The nonprofit: Netting Nations, a nonprofit that delivers malaria nets in Africa. Our target for this campaign was malaria nets for Ghana. Working alongside the net manufacturer, WHO-approved Vestergaard-Frandsen and both partners were easy to work with and really let us have creative control over the campaign while maintaining the structure and relationships necessary to deliver the nets after the campaign concluded.

The hosts: Each city had a series of "hosts" that helped plan the event from logistics to inviting friends and coworkers and promoting the event locally. Hosts teams in each city varied. Sometimes it was old friends, sometimes it was people we'd never met before but knew through Twitter or Facebook and sometimes it was friends of those people. We also created a cause and PR advisory team with leaders in their industries to help us spread the word about this campaign.

The outcome: $19,347 raised in one month with over 350 online donations and over 1,000 people in attendance across the 7 parties. Online donations came in from 26 states and 4 countries ranging from $5 to $500. With additional nets donated by Vestergaard-Frandsen, the total amount of nets we have to distribute is just under 5,000. We broke donations into categories that would help people understand the power of their donation:

Feedback: Tremendous. We received a lot of press, and great feedback from hosts that they loved the campaign, it was a fun and turn-key way for them to be involved with the planning of a nonprofit event and they were inspired to throw fundraisers for their next birthday. ** Would we do it again?** The bigger question is who have we inspired to get involved with a nonprofit and make cause a part of their lives.

The My Birthday Wish interview series ran in January 2010 featuring The Causemopolitan readers who had birthday fundraisers of their own. The interviews are listed below. Have you had a birthday fundraiser and you'd like to share your story with The Causemopolitan audience? Email sloane (at) thecausemopolitan (dot) com to contact Sloane for an interview and to be featured in the next series to be released in Spring 2010.