March 19, 2019

Use your birthday to make a difference

There are endless ways to celebrate your birthday, from slices of cake shared among your closest friends to a quiet evening at home with takeout from your favorite restaurant. This year, consider adding giving back to your list of birthday festivities.

The benefits of giving back are backed by science. This includes improved mental and physical health, longevity, and better sleep — something we can all use more of as we age. When you use your birthday as a chance to make a difference in someone else’s life, the odds are that you’ll make a difference in your life, too.

volunteers cleaning neighborhood

This year, consider using your birthday for good—like signing up to volunteer with United Way!

Here are some of our favorite ways to give back on your birthday:

  • Collect donations instead of gifts. Do your friends and family a favor and spare them the stress of trying to find the perfect gift. Instead, ask for donations to the nonprofit organization of your choice. Bonus: When you give to United Way for Southeastern Michigan, their gifts go further. We work with partners to make your dollars go further toward solving some of the biggest problems facing Metro Detroit families — like childhood literacy and workforce training.
  • Turn your party into a volunteer event. It doesn’t matter if your birthday coincides with snow mounds and Christmas lights or blazing sun and fireworks. With our Seasons of Caring initiative, we offer ways to give back all year long. Head to our volunteer portal and sort by date to find a meaningful volunteer activity for your birthday.
  • Complete a random act of kindness. Many restaurants and coffee shops offer free food or beverages on your birthday. Pay it forward to the person behind you in line, or buy an extra meal for someone less fortunate.
  • Clean out your closet. The benefits of creating a more organized space can be two-fold. There’s a psychological value to decluttering, and your old items can find new life when they’re donated. For example, United Way partners like Zaman International use your donations to help address the basic needs of women and children.
  • Host a Facebook fundraiser. With Facebook fundraising, helping those in need can be as easy as setting a monetary goal, clicking the create button and sharing the link with friends on your page. There are no fees associated with the service. As a result, all the money you raise in honor of your special day goes directly to the charity.
  • Share a reverse birthday wish list. Rethink the traditional birthday wish list by requesting things for others instead of for yourself. For example, ask for nonperishable items for a food pantry, a toy for a child in the hospital or cleaning items for shelter animals.
  • Show your appreciation. The volunteers and dedicated staff with United Way’s nonprofit partners work hard to make a difference in our community. Consider using your birthday to show your appreciation with gifts of food or just a handwritten thank you note. Your kindness is sure to be appreciated by people accustomed to giving. You can find a list of our nonprofit partners on our website — just remember to call ahead so they expect your visit!