Making Birthdays Meaningful

Young woman opening gift box
Young woman opening gift box

When I was in real estate, seven years ago, I heard an agent speak about the power of social media. One of the tips he suggested to build relationships was to wish someone a happy birthday on Facebook. Back then, It was a novel idea and a fantastic way to let someone you rarely talked to, know that you are thinking of them. Fast forward to today. Not only has this become a long accepted practice, according to The Washington Post, Facebook aggressively encourages the longtime practice of wishing friends a happy birthday on their timelines. This is the world where Facebook continuously collects more personal data on us by providing more free services, and we, as the crowd, are all following their lead.

What we need to recognize is that today we have choices in how we connect with people. We can take steps to stand out from the crowd and do something different as this seven-year-old practice is no longer unique. That's exactly what I'm doing this year. I'm planning on making my birthday meaningful. One that has an impact and lets others be a part of not only my birthday but my community.

Find A Cause
Between a friend's Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign, to dedicating your birthday to a charity like Charity: Water or asking people to become more aware of a cause you are passionate about there is an abundance of choices we can make. For me, it's Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry. The organization works to end child hunger in the United States. I've been personally involved for over three years now and have seen the impact they've made and have a goal of connecting one million more kids with school breakfast. Something we hope to see this year.

Celebrate with A Donation
If you are supporting a Kickstarter campaign or fundraising for your charity, you can ask people to contribute or donate to the cause. For No Kid Hungry, I set up a personal fundraising page and am asking people to give to them instead of just posting on my Facebook wall. For every dollar raised, they will connect a child with up to ten meals. That is much more meaningful to me to have someone wish me a happy birthday and help end childhood hunger at the same time. I also know that some people in my community can only provide a Facebook wish, and I want people to feel free to have the choice of what works best for them. The key here is to let people hear your heartbeat and know what is meaningful for you. Ironically, Facebook usually does not share this information widely.

Spreading The Word
Do you have a post you just wrote? Is there an article about your cause that you want to be shared? Is there a pledge people can take? For me this is easy, it's always the response I give when someone asks how they can help when I'm talking about No Kid Hungry. I encourage them to take the pledge. Sign up with their email address and learn more about all the different ways they can get involved. Share Our Strength is not only the name of the nonprofit but also have proven the impact it can have when we do something together with a shared purpose.

For this birthday, I set up a personal fundraiser for No Kid Hungry, a cause I am passionate about. I'm asking everyone who wishes me a happy birthday that it will be meaningful if they can support my wishes by donating or spreading the word. I'll do this by changing my cover photo on Facebook to get people's attention, only posting one thing on Facebook, which will be this post, and will respond to anyone who posts on my wall tomorrow with a link to this post. I'm sure only a few of the many will follow my wishes this birthday, and more will give Facebook exactly what they are looking for. We all have a choice. My choice is to make this birthday meaningful for the 16 million kids who face hunger every day in America.