The Best Websites for Planning a Charity Party

“Please, no gifts,” she said. “I really mean it.”
“There’s got to be a better way to do this, to celebrate the kid without all the excess,” Aliaga responded.
With that, the two moms – with seven sons between them ­– started work on Clover by Clover, a website launched in 2011 that allows party guests to donate to a single gift for a child and a charity of the child’s choosing.
The birthday boy or girl can pick a charity from one of 20 local and national nonprofits Clover by Clover works with and set the percentage of the total collected that will be donated. The charities include the San Francisco Zoo, Second Harvest Food Bank, Guide Dogs for the Blind and the California State Parks Foundation.
“There is no benefit to the 24th or 25th wrapped gift,” says Ellis Chun. This way, “kids can choose something they really like, and they can help other people. It’s empowering.”
It also helps cut down on parents’ time and effort – as well as their carbon emissions – driving to the store for the inevitable weekend birthday party, often trying to find a gift for a child they barely know.
One of Ellis Chun’s sons used Clover by Clover for his seventh birthday when he wanted a $75 Giants Buster Posey jersey – the price tag of which was too high for his mom. “He treasures it because it came from his friends,” she says. He donated the rest to a charity that helps homeless children.
Ellis Chung says about 20 percent of Clover by Clover users donate all the proceeds to charity. That was the case when the parents in one son’s kindergarten class held a group party for fall birthdays and donated nearly $1,000 to the Red Cross.
“That’s money that would have been spent on LEGOs or Polly Pockets. The kids had a great party, and nobody missed the gifts,” she says.
Toronto-based ECHOage offers a similar service, though a set 50 percent of the money collected goes to charity. The company currently works with more than 200 charities, and any nonprofit can sign up to benefit from an ECHOage party. Bay Area charities already working with ECHOage include the Down Syndrome Research & Treatment Foundation in Palo Alto, Loved Twice in Oakland and Children of Shelters in San Francisco.
“It’s definitely catching on,” says Ellis Chung. “We look forward to the day when it is a foregone conclusion that kids as lucky as ours will ‘share’ their birthdays, Bar Mitzvahs, graduations and other special occasions with those less fortunate.”

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