Many years ago, my friend Brandi Richard impressed me with a major fundraiser she did in honor of one of her milestone birthdays. I admired how she used her growing platform to increase awareness of a certain cause and raise money on its behalf. I’ve wanted to do the same since that time. I have done a few small birthday fundraisers but this birthday, my 40th, is my most ambitious yet. The same way she inspired me to donate my birthday, I hope to inspire others to do it as well.

Birthday fundraisers come in different forms. You can host a concert and raise cash like my friend Brandi did. You can have people bring in-kind donations to your birthday party and donate the collection to your preferred charity. Age doesn’t matter either – a child at my sons’ school has used the month of April, his birthday month and Autism Awareness Month, for a few years now to raise money for The Autism Society of North Carolina.

When developing your birthday fundraiser, consider making your goal more achievable with some planning.

Choose a cause & your why

The birthday fundraisers I mentioned earlier were each associated with causes special to the honorees. My chosen cause is homelessness with the beneficiary Urban Ministries of Durham (UMD).

I have felt a connection to homelessness frankly because I’ve felt nearly in that state of being. The end of my marriage brought very difficult financial times and my experience as a single mother has had its challenges (FYI: single parent families are at high risk of homelessness). In similar ways, the homeless population are discounted and overlooked. As a Christian, I know God calls for us to help the hungry, poor and those without shelter. I wanted to do more for this population than I had up to that point.  So four years ago after a stint of volunteering with my children for Meals on Wheels, I felt called to put my time, treasure, and talent to use with homelessness. I have been on the UMD board of directors since 2013 and as former Board Treasurer and newly elected Board Chair, it was a no-brainer to choose them as the beneficiary.

We connect with the community to end homelessness and fight poverty by offering food, shelter and a future to neighbors in need. – Mission of Urban Ministries of Durham

Pick a cause that is exceptionally connected to you and make sure you know why you have that connection. One that makes sense for people to contribute their treasure in honor of your existence. If you are not connected to a specific beneficiary, consider local groups in your current or past hometown. To be more diligent, check or a similar site to ensure you are okay with the way they spend money.

Select a platform

I’ve done research for this in the past and there really are so many options. This time around, I just wanted to get it done. I am on Facebook a lot and connected to others who are as well so I finally decided to use Facebook Fundraisers. It was very easy and convenient to create a fundraiser on the site. They even prompted me about donating my birthday so after a quick check on the process and fees, I decided to go with it.

Facebook Fundraiser Welcome Page

Fortunately UMD is in their fundraising system since Network for Good facilitates the collection and distribution process for Facebook, and already does the same for UMD online donations. The money transfer should have no problems!

Research fundraising platforms before choosing one. You want convenience in setting up the fundraiser as well as for donors to give.

Considerations include:

    • ease of use for you and donors
    • fundraising fees
    • ease of money transfer to the nonprofit

Decide on a goal

I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do. I’m from the school of thought that participation counts more than money raised so I wanted to make the barrier for participation low. After debating on various ways to put my impending age into a goal, I settled on $40 donations (since I’m turning 40) towards ending homelessness for one person which is estimated at nearly $5,000. I created a higher goal of ending homelessness for a family of four which takes nearly $20,000.

When you create a goal, connect your birthday in some way – whether you choose your age, the date, or time you were born. Your age can be the donation amount. Or multiply your age to create your goal. Make it easy for your friends and network to participate. Maybe most of your friends can only contribute $20. Or you have high-roller friends who can easily give $4,000.

I made sure to state my goal but also welcome any contribution amount because it all helps. Fortunately, some friends have not used my guideline and have contributed more than requested 🙂

Write your story

I wrote a compelling story so others would agree and support the cause.

My Facebook Fundraiser Story

Remember when you chose your cause and why you are supporting it? Use that as a basis for the story you will put into your campaign. Invite others to join you in achieving the goal or vision you share. Make sure you include the cause and beneficiary, why you chose the cause and/or beneficiary, goal amount and deadline. One thing I love about Facebook Fundraisers is it shows progress towards the campaign goal and automatically acknowledges donors.

By the way, I created my promotional graphic on but you could easily use, Adobe Spark, Photoshop, and other software.

Hit publish & share everywhere

It really took me less than 30 minutes to create the graphic, write the story and hit publish. I have shared on my Facebook profile as well as my Facebook business pages. I posted on Twitter and now I’m posting here. I shared with UMD staff too so they would have a heads up.

Donations have been coming in since I published the campaign. I’ve received donations offline as well.

The plans in my head were to share daily from the time I hit publish. However, things have not worked out that way. Since I’m going out of town with limited access to the internet during the campaign, I will use buffer and/or hootsuite to pick up my slack. If I do it again next year or for the next milestone birthday, I will take a few more moments to plan out my marketing better. I would do the following:

    • Create a daily plan to share via social media and offline means before publishing the campaign.
    • Create a shortened url and use it to share everywhere including on a card or flyer to for offline distribution {done}.
    • Use facts and images associated with the cause to increase awareness and compel others to donate.
    • Share videos – live or pre-recorded – to increase awareness about the cause as well as share how the campaign is going.

You are invited

And on that note, I invite you to contribute to ending homelessness in honor of my 40th birthday at

Your gift would go directly to a great cause and would do well to honor my existence!

Thank you for your consideration.

Yolanda Brown

Board Chair of Urban Ministries of Durham

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