What Do You Get Him For His Birthday?

I'll be turning 48 in a ten days. I was born on August 20th 1961. It was a good month and has produced one President already.

As I get older, and 48 does seem downright old to me, I've gotten harder to buy presents for. Some claim I'm impossible to buy presents for. That's largely because I don't like presents. At least material presents. I love handwritten notes and home cooked brownies.

But most of all, I like it when people do something nice for others in an effort to be nice to me.

And so this year I've decided to ask people to give to a donors choose project of their choice as a way to send me a birthday present. Fortunately Donors Choose makes it easy to do this. Anyone who wants to do a "birthday challenge" can set one up here. You can "tweet it up", share it on facebook, and put a widget on your blog or myspace page.

I did that yesterday and here is my birthday widget. I'm dedicating this campaign to music education programs in schools that are struggling to make ends meet.

This widget will appear on the right sidebar sometime today and remain there until my birthday ten days from now. So if you want to celebrate 48 years of my time on earth and do something good for kids in public schools at the same time, give something to donors choose. I promise you that it will be a great experience for you and the teachers and students who benefit from your generosity.

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Comments (Archived):

  1. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

    That’s actually an awesome idea. I’m like you — I’m not a fan of getting presents generally, and not a fan of celebrating my birthday. I think it’s an irrelevant date. I also hate surprise gifts, which drives my fiancée mad.In The Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit tradition is that the birthday person gives gifts to their friends instead of the other way around, and I like that. If I could afford it I would do that (yes, that’s a cop out).Too bad my birthday’s past (Aug 6) or I would do something similar to what you’re doing. For my birthday my best friend treated me to a dinner at a terrace overlooking Paris (at the Arab World Institute — the service and food were bad, but the sight was hard to beat), and afterwards we went home to have dessert with my fiancée. Dinner with loved ones in a great setting is really the best gift there could’ve been.Kudos.

    1. fredwilson

      happy birthday pascal-emmanuel!

      1. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

        Thanks! You too.

    2. ShanaC

      Happy Birthday.I’m calling you out on not giving gifts. My first year in college I baked two large peppermint chiffon cakes (which I mixed by hand and had swirly colors inside), covered them with chocolate, and served them to my living group in my dorm). I also made a mushroom salad. I was friends with the people, and some of them I am still extremely close with. A good gift doesn’t have to be expensive, it just has to be from the heart.

      1. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

        You’re absolutely right. Which is why I said it’s a cop-out. I’ll try to dobetter next year.

  2. bijan

    great idea fred. just donated.

  3. Venkat

    Well, Fred, an early happy birthday and all, but you might be in the minority in believing August is a good month.Slate has run an article every year for the last few criticizing August, and this year, they propose banning it altogetherEnjoy :)Venkat

    1. fredwilson

      I like august a lot. Its hot and steamy in the city but nice at the beach. And I take a week off every year at the end of the month.

      1. Albert R

        August is the best (mine’s the last day)!Happy birthday Fred! Such a great idea. My mom’s just like you, so I’ll see if she wants to do this next year.

  4. robe1221

    This is an awesome idea. Thank you for sharing this!

  5. timo

    I am feeling quite honored. I was born in August 20th too, but in 1991. And I really love your idea and the widget. (My aunt was born on August 20th, too, so it’s a good date! ;))

  6. Drew Meyers

    You set a great example for others — kudos Fred.

  7. rkorba

    Went off-piste, but happy bday from a fellow 40-something — my favorite one (esp my local menlo park/east palo alto schools) gets much of my time and zeal, and now a fred-prodded gift….http://www.ihaveadreamfound

  8. Ajay Mehta

    Very cool ideaI wasn’t aware that Donors Choose had such a great “birthday challenge” feature. Great idea on their end!

  9. Dave Pinsen

    I’m surprised by your choice of charities, considering that you didn’t send your kids to public schools. Why not fund a scholarship to your kids’ private school instead, so some lucky kid currently in a public school can get the same education your kids did? Or why not promote a charity that’s related to your work in venture capital? One example that comes to mind along those lines is Business Council for Peace (formerly Business Women for Peace, if memory serves).

    1. fredwilson

      We do fund scholarships to my kids’ private school so that kids who can’t afford a private school can still attend oneWe give to a lot of different non-profitsWhat I like about donors choose is the way it allows public school teachers to bypass the bureacracy and raise money directly via the internet

      1. Dave Pinsen

        OK, I see.Thanks for mentioning Donor’s Choice. I’ll mention it to my sister, who is a public school teacher in Manhattan.

  10. Steven Kane

    48 “downright old”?Now you tell me! I turned 47 last Tuesday (8/4).

    1. fredwilson

      Another august birthday!

  11. Siminoff

    Happy Birthday Fred, 48 is not that old… I mean you are only 16 years older than me:)

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks. You’ve done a lot at age 32 my friend

  12. leighp

    Great idea – read about it on the DonorsChoose blog and just made a donation in honor of my own mom – a recently retired public school teacher (whose birthday is also August 20th) and who gave up countless days taking me to and front music lessons as a child. The music education programs I had in school made a huge difference in my life, and all kids should have music as part of a complete, quality education!Happy Birthday, Fred.