campaign to watch: three years without a birthday gift.

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campaign: Diane’s 50th birthday
birthday party: Oct. 2
goal amount: $5,000
how close she is to this year’s goal: $80

Diane Johnson is what we call a birthday campaign veteran. Every year, she gives up her birthday gifts, asks for donations to water projects instead — and gets tons of family members and friends on board. Even in year three, she’s funding entire water projects. Here, she gives us some tips on how she does it:


The first year I joined charity: water (2008), I was hoping to raise around $1,000. Last year, I wanted to raise enough for half a well. This year, I really wanted to raise enough for an entire well. I was turning 50 after all, so I wanted to raise $5,000.

Getting everyone on board >
First, I sent emails to everyone I know, and secondly, I told my husband I wanted a party completely focused on charity: water. He wisely handed this task to my wonderful friends, and because of them, we had an amazing party! We sold bottles of water, had a silent auction and had a raffle where the person who won got half the cash and the other half went to charity: water (but the awesome person who won donated their half to charity: water, too!).

Fundraising before and after the party >
I wanted to start early because I knew it was going to take more than the party to get to my goal. I emailed absolutely everyone I could think of — whether they were invited to the party or not. And I added my link to the invitation as well in case people couldn’t attend.

birthday cake + sign

By the time the party came, I’d collected around $1,200 via the emails. The party raised an additional $3,200 — totaling $4,400, so I am very close to my goal! I know I will meet it this time around. I was amazed at how everyone embraced my dream! 

I have some water bottles left and I’ll sell them at my office. I also plan to send out one more email as a reminder to those who wanted to give but have forgotten. 

Tips for other birthday campaigners >
The best thing I have found is to ask absolutely everyone you know. It’s amazing how many people donate. I don’t even know some of them except via email, and they are so generous and caring.

And the invitation told them it was a “fun”draiser birthday party, with a raffle, etc., so they knew going in that it was to raise money while having fun. My sister had fun selling the raffle tickets; people loved the silent auction; and setting up a computer to be ready for online donations was helpful. My friend made the water labels and we sold those. Plus, showing the charity: water story video is a must. It makes the water crisis a reality instead of something happening far away that people can’t relate to.

silent auction

The silent auction >
My husband and I donated our one-week timeshare in Mexico (and got $825), and put together a golf goodies box. I also dug through the garage and filled a crate with new stuff we don’t use. One of my friends is a painter; she donated a painting. My sister put together three different baskets of goodies. A friend of ours belongs to a country club and donated two free rounds of golf… the list goes on. It just takes thinking outside the box and asking people to help, and you will get the items. 

Any more advice on running a birthday campaign?
Go for it!  You probably don’t need gifts – there are people who don’t even have water. It is a no-brainer. You will be a gigantic blessing to those you are helping, but the amazing thing is how blessed you feel when you have made a difference in this world. It is awesome to see how many people step up and contribute. Plus, you will inspire others to start their own campaign, and even more people will receive water!

Thousands have given up their birthdays to help… but you can really do anything to raise money for clean water projects. Learn how simple it is to start a campaign here.

Previous september is over, so… Blog Home Next charity: water + TOMS… again!