Hello! My name is Rachel Sklar, and today is my birthday.
I’m 36, which can sound sort of old when you’re used to being a sprightly young 35. Needless to say, I was not looking forward to the birthday, and planned to let it pass quietly, with little more than a few grumbles and perhaps one or two self-pitying moans.
But these are strange and harsh times of late, and complaining about turning a year older seemed rather hollow compared to the actual problems people are facing these days. The economy’s tanking. Belts are tightening. Banks are dissolving. To put it bluntly, things suck.
Meanwhile, the people who have it worst are those for whom it has always sucked - the people who rely on charities and the kindness of others to improve their lives even just a bit. Charitable giving has taken a massive hit from this economic crisis - so here’s where the drinking comes in.
My plan: To all of you, my friends and colleagues and people I follow on Twitter, I invite to join me on my birthday and buy me a celebratory drink - but in lieu of actual alcohol, I’d ask you to allocate the money to one of the charities listed above. If all of you chip in to celebrate, think of how drunk I’ll get! Except without the bloating, slurred speech or awkward lampshade table-dance. It’s a win-win for everyone, really.
Hence the name - Charitini. It’s my hope that it can be a concoction for giving that can add up to real results. The idea was inspired by three things: (1) My friend Bill Bragin, who turned his birthday party into an Obama fundraiser in September, and raised a whopping $43 thousand bucks; (2) amazing startup EchoAge.com, which plans children’s birthday parties to collect gift money, spent half on one meaningful gift and half to the charity of the kid’s choice; and - yes - (3) the Obama campaign, which proved again and again that micro-giving is an idea that works. Can we tap into those online habits to gin up support for people who need it? Yes, we can. Even if there’s no actual gin involved.
So - that’s it. For now. Today is a test-run, with hopes to create an infrastructure for taking this service to the birthday-having drink-surrendering masses. I’ve been working with Richard Waldvogel of Giveness and Rex Sorgatz of Fimoculous on how to take the idea wide (because to do something right, you need an expert!). For now, though, we’re going through the fine folks at Network for Good who are hosting my birthday wish list. So please, pour generously!
One more thing: The food and beverage industry is feeling the pinch these days too, so far be it from me to take money out of their coffers. Just because I don’t need a drink doesn’t mean YOU don’t - so please come join me tonight at the Bowery Wine Company, 13 East First St., from 8-ish on. I don’t mean to brag but I’m pretty sure there will be bloggers there.
That’s it - hope to see you later, where I will to be drunk with kindness and giving and joy. Here’s to you, and your help in getting me there.
p.s. One more benefit of this model: It allows your friends in far-flung places to let you know how much they care. Pay up, Canada.