January 3, 2020

‘The reality of climate change became clear’ | Birthday fundraising for the planet


With thanks to Elise Hoblitzelle from for her inspiring write-up on why she decided to put the planet first when celebrating her birthday. By setting an ambitious goal and reaching out to family and friends, she raised an incredible amount of money to support Cool Earth’s rainforest partners and help us scale-up our work around the world.

More and more people are choosing to preserve rainforest with Cool Earth. We’d love to know what sparked you to fundraise with others to make a difference to rainforest, and the future of our climate.

Get in touch and tell us your climate-action moment.

My first charitable act as a young girl involved donating $23 of my saved allowance to Greenpeace to protect baby harp seals. I was 8 years old, and deeply influenced by the conservationist ideals of my extended family.

Since that early age, I’ve fostered an abiding wonder for the natural world, and the need to protect our resources.

As the reality of climate change became clear, I spent years trying to find the ideal organization to support via donations of money and time. Finally, in 2015, I read William MacAskill’s book, Doing Good Better, which highlighted Cool Earth as “the most cost-effective climate change charity, which can reliably reduce emissions without risk.”

Elise HoblitzelleAt last I had discovered an organization whose mission was clear, whose research was sound and robust, and whose outcomes were measurable and impactful. Then in 2018, after seeing the movie Chasing Coral, and struck by the ever more urgent need for action, I decided to embark on a larger fundraising effort and that my 50th birthday would be the perfect platform. In another 50 years, I want my children to remember me as someone who cared about what matters most, and given that we only have ONE planet, it seems our most vital job is to care for it.  

In starting this campaign, I wasn’t sure how I would even remotely reach my overly ambitious goal of $200,000 (which I didn’t) but I simply began the process of reaching out to everyone I knew. As an introvert, who eschews social media, this was not easy. 

Still, once people take the time to learn about Cool Earth, they are drawn to this simple model – keep rainforest standing by empowering those living at the edges. With enormous gratitude to scores of generous family members, friends, work colleagues and others in my extended network, along with our own significant gift, (someone needs to figure out how to make the hashtag #tithing-for-trees or #tithe-for-the-earth go viral.)

As we sit on the edge of catastrophe, in lieu of despair, we must wake up and take dramatic steps for this precious blue marble of ours. If my effort can prompt others to make similar choices for their birthdays or other gift-giving holidays, if giving to Cool Earth can replace purchasing presents people don’t need, then we all win.

So I hope to inspire others to take similar steps. We have no choice but to all take action to sustain this Earth that has sustained us all.

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