When entrepreneurs throw the weight of their influence toward addressing social-ills, nothing short of magic happens.
That is exactly what happens when Blair Durham decided to donate her birthday to local non-profit Clever Communities in Action, she knew it could happen but wasn’t sure how the community would respond.
As Co-President of Black BRAND, Hampton Roads Regional Black Chamber of Commerce, founded on the principle of cooperative economics, she had seen first hand the power of pooling resources. So when Facebook launched its unique non-profit giving platform, whereby an individual could donate their birthday to a specific cause, she was eager to give it a whirl.
Blair was first introduced to Starr Armstrong, Founder, CEO, and President of Clever Communities in Action, during the summer of 2017 when she was invited to participate in a Facebook live discussion about the dynamics of the Black community. Ironically, Starr would launch an incentivized barbershop based literacy initiative in that same location on the day the birthday fundraiser ended.
Prior to their meeting, Blair heard about Starr and several individuals commented about their shared, passion, strength and determination. One person shared that they had even run into Starr and thought that they were talking to Blair. Upon hearing that story, Blair reached out to befriend Starr on Facebook; and shortly thereafter the initial meeting ensued.
Blair has a background in education, counseling, and social justice, so learning about Clever Communities in Actions Read to Lead and Razor Sharp Readers programs immediately piqued her interest. Blair invited Starr to participate in Black BRAND’s Entrepreneur Fair at Booker T. and subsequently invited Starr to present her programs to raise money at a general body meeting where various Hampton Roads candidates for school board and city council would be featured.
Starr expressed immense gratitude for the additional exposure provided by both platforms; but Blair was not convinced that she had done all she could do to emphasize the significance of Starr’s efforts.
As a homeschooling mother who had witnessed the travesty of both public and private schools’ tendency to marginalize black students through means both covert and direct, Blair was convinced that Starr was on to something that everyone in her network needed to know about.
Cue the Facebook birthday platform. Not only would Blair commit to raising $1000, she would also use the platform to raise awareness about Starr’s efforts by bombarding the page with content – videos, links, Facebook lives, organization updates, and photos. Blair realized that whether individuals donated or not, everyone invited to donate would receive a notification every time a post to the fundraiser was made.
She personally invited more than 1000 people to the campaign. When individuals logged in to Facebook to view their notifications, they would be alerted to the campaign even if they had not been invited. And every campaign post would also show in the timelines of all of Blair’s Facebook followers. And though the campaign did not go exactly as she had envisioned – she had devised a list of supporters for each day the campaign would run – Blair reached and exceeded the goal. Supporters came out of the woodwork, and as she neared the finish, Blair leveraged Facebook messenger to gain even more momentum through giving commitments.
Ultimately, 65 individuals gave in excess of $1300 in just two short weeks; but dozens more learned about CCIAs initiatives.
Blair requested that the books be donated to Rena B. Wright in Chesapeake, VA, the Title I Elementary school she attended. The schools PTA Vice President learned of the campaign, donated to it, and personally reached out to thank Blair for her efforts, adding that she knew the students would be grateful for the additions to its library.
To donate to Clever Communities in Action and other initiatives supported by Black Brand, contact Blair at:
Co-President, Black BRAND
Hampton Roads Regional Black Chamber of Commerce