CommuniGift, a party invitation platform that pairs birthday hosts with kids in need, has rolled out its service in Charlotte.
The idea is to teach kids about charitable giving by inviting their birthday party guests to purchase gifts for a child who otherwise would not have the means to celebrate.
The program first rolled out in L.A. in July 2015 but early interest and organic growth here put Charlotte on their radar as a target city for expansion.
“Just a few months ago, we were piloting the concept in Los Angeles, and Charlotte kind of took us by surprise,” said Zack Newbauer, Director of Partnerships. “One birthday turned into six more and we sensed there was something special here.”
Birthday Buddies, the children who will receive the gifts, are identified by local partner nonprofits and matched with party hosts.
Although early pilot parties in Charlotte paired hosts with Buddies in other cities, CommuniGift quickly identified local partners in an effort to keep the giving close to home.
“Those first Charlotte parties supported birthday buddies in LA, but we quickly made finding Charlotte partners a priority,” said Newbauer. “Now kids can find birthday buddies locally, which we love.”
Here in Charlotte, CommuniGift partners with Florence Crittendon Services and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Over the last few months, CommuniGift has been working with local Charlotte parents to test their concept and gather feedback.
There have already been a few dozen CommuniGift parties hosted in Charlotte and the response has been hugely positive.
When Mary Conlon’s daughter Katie turned 8, she donated her birthday party to a little girl named Ava.
“I think there are two things I want to instill in my children. The first one is that I want them to have fun, to enjoy life and to do things that make them happy, to be brave and to try new things,” said Conlon. “The second is to be a good citizen within your community — to learn how to serve and to give back to others. With CommuniGift, we could do both.”
So how does it work?
Just pick your Buddy, set up your birthday page and invite your guests. Upon RSVPing, guests will have an opportunity to purchase gifts from your Buddy’s wish list and have them shipped directly to the sponsor nonprofit. From there, CommuniGift functions as your own party planning dashboard. Manage RSVPs, check the status of gifting and countdown to your party.
In the event your Buddy’s wish list of 5 gifts is fulfilled early, a new Buddy is paired with your party so the giving can continue. It’s a simple concept with a big impact on both hosts and Buddies.
“I want to make it so everyone in the world has a least a few things,” said 8-year-old Katie from Charlotte who hosted a CommuniGift party. “And I want them to celebrate their birthday like mine.”
CommuniGift has identified partner nonprofits in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Charlotte and Raleigh.
Watch the video below to see 5-year-old Omar open his first birthday gift ever thanks to 8-year-old Lucas who hosted a CommuniGift party.
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