Reflecting on the Bald Birthday Benefit

So tomorrow will mark the halfway point in this little head-shaving, water-fundraising experiment called the Bald Birthday Benefit. Of course we hit the goal last week, raising $600 and giving clean water to 30 people in only six days. With my birthday still a few weeks away, we upped the goal to a ridiculous $5,000 to see how much more we could raise. At this point, every extra buck is just gravy since I’m still shaving my head for hitting the original goal of $600. And it’s all going to an amazing cause—charity: water.

I’ve been trying to spread the word about the Bald Birthday Benefit any way I can. So far it’s happened primarily online through this blog, Twitter, Facebook and e-mail. I’ve got about 900 followers on Twitter, 600 Facebook friends and I e-mailed about 200 friends. My blog probably reaches the least number of people out of all those methods, and oddly enough, even though all those methods point to my blog, my blog traffic is going to be lower this month than it has in any of the past three months (that’s primarily thanks to weirdly popular entries, like can a state secede from the U.S. and banana allergies).

I’ve been trying to blog and tweet about this a lot, attempting to capture people’s attention and hopefully gain more donations. I realize there are very few people who read every blog post, tweet or Facebook update. It’s very easy to miss one, so I’ve been trying to up the volume in hopes of catching more people. It seems to work, though I’m also very leery of being annoying. There’s a fine line between increasing the frequency and increasing the annoyance factor.

And it’s difficult. I don’t want to guilt people into giving. One friend who already donated commented that each additional tweet is a reminder that they’re is unable to donate more. That’s part of why I’ve been trying to be thankful and post positive things as well. If you’ve already donated, that’s awesome. If you still want to help or you’re unable to donate, you can always spread the word or simply pray for those without water. More than money, part of this whole thing is about raising awareness and standing in solidarity with those who lack clean water.

At any rate, I’m still walking that fine line, trying to spread the word without being annoying. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. I’m often encouraged by the blog of musician Shaun Groves when it comes to this issue. He works for Compassion International and is always trying to spread the word about poverty. He tries to make it personal as well and struggles with it all (it’s pretty hard to justify a new TV when you’ve just returned from some of the poorest places in the world).

Sometimes people don’t want to feel bad. They don’t want the guilt. They understand the cause, but actually giving up our comfy lifestyle is too hard. I understand that. That’s probably why I nodded and smiled for so long while my wife beat the drum for charity: water. I understood the cause she was supporting was good, but it was just one more in a littany of causes and I had a hard time wrapping my heart around it. I agreed with her. I donated and supported the cause. But sometimes it was easier to nod and smile, turn away, and not get emotionally involved.

I get that. There are so many causes and needs in this world that it’s easy to be overwhelmed. There’s only so much we’re willing to do. And even if we’re willing, there’s only so much we can practically do. At the same time, I also realize that we’re incredibly wealthy Westerners. Even if we’re unemployed, there’s so much we can do.

All that to say, I’m having a lot of fun with this project, I’m very passionate about it, but I’m also trying not to overdo it. I want to spread the word and engage people, but I don’t want to guilt people or make them feel like they have to turn away. I’ve been there before (speaking of Shaun Groves, I often have a hard time reading all the Compassion blogging tour posts). But the only way to overcome those concerns is to talk about them.

So what do you think? Have the past two weeks been too much hot water? Have you barely noticed? Do you wish I’d shave my head and shut up already? Post a comment and share your thoughts.

4 thoughts on “Reflecting on the Bald Birthday Benefit”

  1. Complete honesty, here:

    When I first saw you post on it, I looked it up, got interested, and will consider as part of our charity efforts. My wife and I have a passion for a similar need and support Feed My Starving Children big time.

    But after the 30th status update, I almost “hid” you (hoping I could find some way to unhide in a month or so). Definitely too much of a good thing. Maybe it’s because you’re 1/3 of my status updates now – I must need more friends. :)

    Let me reiterate that the cause is awesome – reminders are good, guilt is in the eye of the beholder.

  2. Honesty very much appreciated. Thanks, Tim.

    That’s part of the difficult line to cross. There are folks like you (perhaps) who don’t follow that many people and when I increase my volume a little bit, it’s like a firehose. But for other folks who follow many, many more people, it’s much more likely that they’re missing most of my updates.

    How do I hit both groups without turning people off? I’m trying (not sure how successfully) to do it by putting a lot of variety in my updates and making them interesting (I hope). I try not to keep doing the same old update.

    I’ve also noticed that the more I talk about it, the more people donate. Now maybe they’re donating to get me to shut up, who knows. ;-)

    Anyway, it’s a hard dance. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it.

    BTW, Feed My Starving Children rocks. I haven’t been myself, but it used to be (maybe still is?) a pet project of our youth group. I think one teen even went there for a birthday party.

  3. Alright, everyone knows that I’m a fan of charity:water, water4christmas and pretty much any other organization that is determined to provide clean water so it’s probably obvious that I don’t think a person can talk about this too much.

    If you are plugging 20 or 30 different charities and causes and doing it all the time, then it’s over-kill. There are hundreds of valid causes out there but I think in order for ‘regular’ people to begin to make a difference in this world we need to pick 1 or 2 things that truly convict us to act and stick with it.

    And sticking with it means getting the word out, educating people, showing the positives (the progress being made) and the negatives (why things need to change and what may happen if things don’t change).

    Long story short – no. you’re not talking about it too much.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *