The Unsubtle Manipulation of Birthday Fundraisers

This past weekend, Facebook reminded me that my birthday is coming up* by suggesting that I set up a fundraiser for people to contribute to.

My answer to that is quite simple: No.

No, I will not ask you to donate to some cause on my birthday, even if it’s a cause I care deeply about and support myself. Why? Because I don’t think I’ve ever asked you to buy me a present for my birthday, so why would I ask you to spend money on my behalf for a charity?

The same goes for why I’m unlikely ever to support your birthday fundraiser, even if it’s a cause I might care about. Look at it this way: If I’m unlikely to buy you a birthday present, or even a birthday card — have I ever bought you a birthday present? — I’m not going to suddenly decide to spend money on your birthday just because you picked a charity fundraiser for it. And even if I usually get you a card or even a present, chances are I’d rather do that again.


(Image: “Charity,” by Nick Youngson, from Alpha Stock Images.)

I would never stop you from donating money somewhere for your birthday, or even from telling people that you’ve given your own money to help save the whales or save the seals or whatever. But this business of “here’s a cause that’s special to me, won’t you contribute to it on my behalf because it’s my birthday”? No, thank you.

Don’t get me wrong: It’s great that you want to support a charity. And if you have a cause that’s special to you, for which you’ve worked or to which you’ve donated throughout the year? Sure, tell me about it, and tell me why it’s important, and I might contribute. I might even help you recruit others to your cause. Not because it’s your birthday, but because it’s your cause. Tying it to your birthday just seems manipulative to me.

So I won’t do it. Even when it gets to be my birthday.

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*Seems to come around once a year or so, and I’m okay with that.

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