We've covered charity birthday parties in the pages of Parents a lot. Moms seem to always be looking for ways to throw parties for their kids that will benefit others less fortunate whether it be roll-up-your-sleeve events that allow kids to do charity work at the actual shin-dig or ones that allow guests to donate to a cause in lieu of buying gifts. Perhaps it's the extravagance of the modern kid's birthday party that gives us this tug to give back -- we all know what a first world problem it is to have to choose between the Ice Skating Princess party and the Make Cupcakes At the Local Bakery Party. And the fact that every kid comes home with a dozen new toys that she definitely doesn't need (or sometimes even want). But trying to suggest that your kid donate those gifts is a hard sell. Last year I suggested that my daughter Madelyn, then 7, ask her friends to donate to a special cause instead of bringing gifts. She understood it was a nice thing to do. But she couldn't give up the gifts.
So this year I tried a new tactic. Madelyn just got a puppy (see pic) for her birthday from a rescue organization. What if we asked your birthday guests to give a donation to FurBabies where we got Blue? As much as she loved the idea of giving to other puppies like her own, she was still hesitant. So I'd get no gifts? she asked. Well, you'd get gifts from Grannie and Grandpa ... Hmm. She couldn't pull the trigger. Then I learned of a website called Share Your Wish that allows her to do both: Get donations to charity AND get a gift of her own. It's quite brilliant. I only wish that it allowed you to choose any charity. We couldn't give to FurBabies but we could give to the ASPCA, the national animal non-profit that helps pets (and lots of other reputable non-profits). The site lets you choose what percentage to give to the charity and how much to go into the kid's personal gift fund. Madelyn chose 75% to charity and 25% to herself. (The site also handles all the transactions which is handy.) Currently Madelyn has raised $156 for the ASPCA and $52 for herself (which she plans on spending on her puppy; Blue "needs" a sweater). It's a win-win!
Except for the part that I still couldn't get 4 out of 15 of the guests' moms to RSVP. That will continue to be a first world problem that will never be solved.
Editor's Note: I was wrong about Share Your Wish. You CAN choose your own charity. I just neglected to see the option the site. But a rep at the site tells me you just need to select "other" in the charity section. In the end, they were able to send Madelyn's donation to FurBabies after all!