A recipe for success

12th April 2017 | Blog

After Community Ambassador Jane Penson’s first fundraising dinner proved a recipe for success, she decided to hold another one this year. Here Jane tells us how she’s built on last year’s event and what new opportunities are already coming out of it.

If you’re looking for some fundraising inspiration, read on!


Jane Penson


Books open doors, inspire hope and provide endless enjoyment as well as a path to the fulfilment of ambitions. Nobody should be denied them!

My second World Book Day dinner was bigger than the first – 45 people instead of 35. It was easier to sell tickets because about half of the people who came had been before and had enjoyed it. I also put an ad in the local email newsletter mentioning the focus on Zimbabwe which attracted a group of people who had lived there.


Guests enjoyed a dinner cooked by a Zimbabwean chef


Focussing the evening on one country worked really well

I chose Zimbabwe because it is the native country of the chef we had for the evening and because my husband has been there recently. This worked well and I will definitely repeat the focus on one country. It inspired Jenny Hayes’ (Book Aid International’s Communications Executive) talk about donkeys delivering books to inaccessible places in Zimbabwe which painted a memorable mental picture. We also had a non-competitive quiz on some basic facts about the country and discovered friends who knew a lot more about it than we realised.

Book box quiz

The book box quiz created a bit of intrigue with guests beforehand and a lot of fun on the night. Each table started with a box containing a book (ranging from The Tale of Tom Kitten to Jane Eyre) and four statements about it or its author, only one of which was true. The task was to spot the true statement and then to swap your box for one from another table and so on until you have seen them all. Out of seven possible correct answers two tables got six so there was a hastily arranged tie-breaker!

Tom Kitten and Jane EyreThe combination of the quiz and the buffet dinner meant that people got up and moved around more. I think this encouraged a more relaxed, informal atmosphere.

Play to your strengths

I choose dinners as my main method of promoting and fundraising for Book Aid International simply because it is something I know how to do. My local contacts enjoy a combination of reading, quizzes and eating and drinking with friends so it is not a hard sell! I hope that eventually these annual dinners where people are hearing, thinking and talking about the work of Book Aid International will have spin-offs. The local librarian has suggested having a Book Aid International display in the library for a week and we might organise an event there at the same time. Who knows what else may follow?

The next event

Now that there are a total of 56 people who have been to one or both dinners, I hope to get 60 people involved next March. I will need to delegate a few more tasks but there is plenty of goodwill now.

Here’s the confession. I had not given any thought to the amount of clearing up – collapsing tables, putting hired glasses in boxes, taking down posters and so on. But I had also totally underestimated my guests’ willingness to help. Two blinks and the job was done. Thanks guys!


Thanks to Jane and her guests, the dinner raised £1306! That’s enough to send 653 brand new books to a library that might otherwise have empty shelves.


Jane’s next World Book Day Dinner will be on Saturday 3rd March 2018. If you are interested in attending, please get in touch here (please note, the event will be in Buckinghamshire, UK).

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