campaign to watch: reddit helps make the Sweetest Sixteen.

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campaign: Maggie’s Sweet Sixteen
end date: June 30
campaign leaders: Maggie Moran
campaign mission statement:
Most people ask me why I don’t want presents for my birthday. But this is my present. Getting actual presents is nice, but truthfully, I won’t remember what I got in a year or two. But funding a well? That is something I will remember forever.

reddit bday post

Last week, we found one mycharity: water birthday campaign page racking up thousands of views in mere days. The reason? The birthday girl’s father put up a quick post for his online community on reddit. Maggie had already raised more than $1,000 from friends and family; but reddit brought her a slew of donations from strangers to top her $5,000 goal.

reddit bday post

We caught up with Maggie to see what it was like to get so much support from people she doesn’t even know. Here’s the Q&A:

maggie

First — why? Sweet Sixteen usually means you ask for a car… what made you give up the chance for any birthday gifts at all?
I can’t even begin to imagine not being able to take a few steps over to the sink to get water when I’m thirsty. But the people living in poverty in these countries walk miles everyday to get dirty water, and they never complain, they seem like they’re just so happy to be alive. The spirit of the people is definitely driving me.

Your campaign exploded right after your dad put a his post on reddit. In three days, you had 5,000 people hit your campaign page! Were you surprised? Especially that so many strangers donated?
I was shocked!!! I didn’t expect any response because I didn’t think strangers would care about my campaign, much less donate to it. Then, I started receiving anonymous $16 donations, and some were donating $160, and I was completely shocked! People were leaving such thoughtful comments, trying to help me reach my goal and it showed me that there really is a lot of kindness in the world, even from strangers, and proved that people will rally around a good cause.

How did you get the word out besides through your dad’s reddit post?
I attached an explanation of charity: water to an invitation for my birthday party (we did a scavenger hunt in Central Park) and asked everyone to donate to my campaign instead of giving me gifts. I explained my campaign when I presented my modern issues project in class. I also emailed my entire family as well as posting it on Facebook. My parents posted it on their Facebook pages as well.

How did your friends and family feel about you giving up your Sweet Sixteen?
Most of my friends were confused as to why I was giving up my birthday but they thought that it was a really nice thing. My family definitely got really excited about it.

maggie's party

My first donation was $160 from my cousin who is 12 years old. When she heard about what I was doing, she ran upstairs to her room and brought down $160 of her own money to donate. When I told her that it was such a nice thing she was doing, her reply was “Well, you told me to watch the videos and that made me cry so I had to! There are little kids in Africa that need our help!”

I was so happy to see my siblings as excited about the campaign as I was. On the morning of my party, I was $40 below my goal, so my little sister donated that amount to make sure I hit it before the party started. And when the total neared $2,000, she again donated so I would hit that mark.

My little brother who is 10 also really impressed me because he got really into it. He gave a $10 donation to represent his age, and then emptied his entire piggy bank and donated that as well, totaling $60. He told me that I was doing a really nice thing so he wanted to help. One of my grandmas gave me money but insisted that I kept it for my trip to Europe — but I donated that too.

Happy birthday, Maggie, from Reddit! Your concern and dedication for others in the world is inspiring. Please stay exactly as you are!

– a donor on Maggie’s campaign page

Your cause really impacted others… how did the campaign really impact you?
My grandmother passed away four years ago, and I was really close to her. When my aunt heard about what I was doing, she said that my Nan would be so proud of me. This really touched me, and made me cry. Running this campaign has changed my life. I’m a teenager, and so I never thought I could actually do something influential that could make a difference in others’ lives. But this campaign has completely proved me wrong. The feeling you get when you know you’re helping others is the greatest feeling in the world, and definitely the best birthday present I could have ever asked for.

You still have about a week left, though you reached your $5,000 goal! Anything else planned?
Of course I will keep going! Nothing is stopping me from raising as much money as I can.

Maggie’s campaign is our first individual campaign to reach the reddit community to this scale. Paull Young, our Director of Digital Engagement, has been watching Maggie’s campaign closely. Here’s his input:

“It’s always inspiring for our team to see a campaign like Maggie’s get picked up by a global audience. It’s pretty typical of a mycharity: water campaign for donations to come from a users personal network of family, friends and coworkers — it’s much less common to see a campaign enthusiastically embraced by an online community.

It also shows the power of the reddit community — not only did Maggie’s campaign attract a huge traffic bump the Friday her dad posted a link to reddit, but that traffic actually turned into a number of donations. I even saw some anonymous donations of $160!

Most of all, this shows me once again the power of one person to make a difference. Maggie put herself out there, her family and friends shared her story, and once again the online community showed us just how much they care about making an impact.”

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