Happy Charity Birthday

By: akmom
August 14th, 2015
4:45 pm

Happy Charity Birthday

My children have received a couple of birthday party invitations now that urge attendees to donate to some charity as "admission." First it was a party at the roller skate rink, asking guests to bring a can of food for the Food Bank. Another wanted us to bring a bag of dog food or cat food for the local animal shelter in lieu of a gift, even though it was held at a public playground, and literally anyone could show up - whether they know the birthday kid or not.

I guess I just don't get the point in turning birthdays into charity drives. Can't people just make their own choices about what to support? Maybe I'm just experiencing charity fatigue, but I don't see why children's social events all have to be turned into fundraisers. It seems silly to hold an extravagant party and then make a big show of collecting a few dollars' worth of food for a charity that already has ample community support. Are the parents just trying to show off or what?

Join the Discussion!

9 comments on "Happy Charity Birthday"

  • cybele
    August 14, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    I haven't experienced this with birthday parties, but I do know that there was a wedding trend a few years ago where instead of giving out wedding favours the couple would put a card at each person's spot and the table with "in lieu of a favour a donation has been made to ___ in your name" which I know caused a fair bit of backlash because that person would then receive a whole load of promotional calls and letters from the charity to genuinely believed that this person was interested in making continual donations.
    It only seemed to last a year in popularity, then it went down like a lead balloon.

    I wouldn't mind bringing some food/pet food, my line would stop at monetary donations because I really am opposed to giving money to charities without looking into their spendings first, so many have outrageous administration costs that double, sometimes triple, the aid they actually provide, not to mention that because something is a charity, doesn't mean that everyone is going to agree with what that charity stands for and it puts guests in a very uncomfortable situation.

  • TabascoNatalie
    August 15, 2015 at 5:04 am

    Actually it is a good idea. I encountered this at adult parties. Donate to their selected charity instead of bringing presents.
    Because with presents you end up accumulating more and more CRAP that you end up taking to... charity shops.

  • akmom
    September 1, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    I agree, Cybele. The more I learn about how charities typically operate, the more it seems like the "charity" part is an afterthought. Charities run by volunteers are one thing, but it gets kind of shady when donations are paying someone's full-time salary to supposedly run things. I mean, I'd expect it to be a pretty productive charity if they need someone to run it full-time.

    You have to be careful about in-kind donations too, though. Did you know that Locks of Love (who makes wigs for kids with alopecia or chemo patients) sells the majority of suitable hair that it receives, to cover the costs of making the few wigs it does donate? If you were going to cut your hair anyway, then no big deal, but I know plenty of people who only chopped off their beautiful long hair because they genuinely thought it was going to a kid with cancer. These roundabout, technically-still-a-charity venues that hog a huge amount of donated money to fund tiny accomplishments is behind my charity fatigue.

  • akmom
    September 1, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    I understand not wanting a bunch of crap for your birthday. So just say "No gifts please" on the invitations. That's what I do. No need to inconvenience the guests anyway with charity requests. How do I know you're not just going to feed your own dog with the donated food?

    And like it or not, giving a gift is not just about helping the birthday boy/girl accumulate "stuff." It's about choosing something they will like, and being able to attach your name to it, so the gesture is recognized. No one notices that you brought a giant bag of dog food versus one can of cat food, and I bet the birthday kid doesn't even care, because it's Mom's idea to play these "charity" shenanigans.

  • page16
    September 2, 2015 at 11:03 am

    I think it's silly to do this, for more reasons than one. Some have already been mentioned here.

    There is a time and a place for everything, but a birthday party isn't the time or place to ask for charity donations. If the child already has anything and everything, they should simply state that no presents need to be brought.

    You don't know where your donation is going.

    Donating to charity is a personal choice and should not be dictated, ever.

    I donate to charity, and I'm generous, but I'd have to avoid birthday parties like that.

  • mom2many
    September 17, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    I just don't see what the big deal is, if thats what the birthday person would like why does it matter?

  • akmom
    September 23, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    I don't know, I guess it seems bossy and parent-centered. I liked it back when birthdays parties were about celebrating and getting something fun for the birthday kid. Not being reminded of all the troubles in the world, and being bullied/guilted/coerced into contributing in order for my child to be welcomed at a social function.

  • page16
    September 28, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    Originally Posted by akmom
    I don't know, I guess it seems bossy and parent-centered. I liked it back when birthdays parties were about celebrating and getting something fun for the birthday kid. Not being reminded of all the troubles in the world, and being bullied/guilted/coerced into contributing in order for my child to be welcomed at a social function.
    My thoughts exactly. I really don't think that a kids birthday party is the right moment to do a fundraiser for charity *unless* it is completely the kid's idea.

  • TabascoNatalie
    September 29, 2015 at 3:51 am

    Originally Posted by page16
    My thoughts exactly. I really don't think that a kids birthday party is the right moment to do a fundraiser for charity *unless* it is completely the kid's idea.
    Depends how old is a kid. Kids can be very aware and passionate about the right causes, like animal rights.
    And these days, when you invite about a dozen kids to a party (and there are people who invite whole class -- about 30 odd kids) - and their parents don't want to shell out a fortune on presents, but still feel a need to bring something - they just go to poundland and buy another junk toy. Image how much clutter that is... Pet food at least would go to a positive cause, not garbage.



Post Reply