I'm sure you have all heard of the wonderful Menu for Hope event that is the brainchild of Pim and takes place once a year around Christmas. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, the campaign involves food bloggers (and others) from around the world each donating something to be raffled off on-line for charity. This can be as simple as a cookbook or as elaborate as a foodie tour of a world-class city. It can be something you will lovingly make yourself (e.g. jams or framed photographs) or it can be something you have persuaded somebody else to donate (e.g. dinner at a smart restaurant) – see last year's campaign to get an idea of what I'm talking about. Once the raffle starts, members of the public can visit your site to read about your raffle items and then place a bid by going to Pim's site. And at the end of the campaign, winners are chosen using a software application, after which the regional hosts will tell people the good news of what they have won.
Surely this raises a lot of money, I hear you say? Oh yes – just over $60,000 last year! And what happens to the money? Well, like last year, the money will be going to the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and this year's campaign is going to be particularly exciting. This is because the WFP has allowed us to earmark the funds to a specific program. We am thrilled to announce that we have chosen a school feeding program in the mountain kingdom of Lesotho – which is situated bang in the middle of South Africa!
Currently, the WFP's school feeding programme provides a daily nutritious meal to nearly 150,000 school kids in Lesotho , many of them orphans. After five years of drought, it is estimated that disease and malnutrition in Lesotho claim the lives of one in 12 children before they reach the age of five. Chronic and persistent vulnerability prevails in Lesotho . The kingdom is confronting the triple threat of increasing chronic poverty, rising HIV/AIDS rates and weakened government capacity. This threat takes a heavy toll on the households of the rural poor in Lesotho , who are faced with a limited number of coping strategies to respond to the intensifying hazard. 56% of the population live on less then $2 per day. Think about that. That's less than a pound.
During the campaign, we are going to have the kids photo-blogging from the school grounds to bring their stories closer to us and our donors. Also, the WFP have been pushing what they call the Local Procurement program: instead of buying surplus food in the US and shipping it to Africa to feed the kids they are now buying maize and other produce from the local farmers, thereby putting funds back into the local economy.
Why am I telling you all this? Well, because I (together with Johanna) have been asked to host the UK region's Menu for Hope campaign 2007. I am hoping that as many of you as possible will be able to take part and provide something to raffle off. Having donated something last year, I can honestly say that it is not a huge amount of work. All you need to do is come up with a prize to donate, put up an enthusiastic post about it on your blog and then remember to mention it as often as possible while the campaign is running. And if you have no blog, no problem! Let me know what you want to donate and I will host it on my site. You will also be responsible for getting the prize to the winner. Not really that hard at all, plus your blog should get some extra exposure and traffic during the campaign and the kids in Lesotho can look forward to more food. It's a win-win situation. So please put on your thinking caps and try to come up with something we can raffle.
When coming up with a prize, do bear in mind that your bidders (and the winner) may come from anywhere in the world, so don't plan to raffle off anything that won't travel well, anything perishable or anything terribly heavy or bulky. You could also specify that your prize must be claimed in the city where you live if it is e.g. a foodie tour, or cooking a meal for the winner. It doesn't necessarily have to be foodie (last year we had a couple of iPods up for grabs!), but do try and come up with something that is valuable or unique enough for people to want to bid on. Remember that your target market is YOUR blog readers, even if there are only 20 of them.
And when you come up with any ideas for what you want to raffle (no limits to how many prizes you can put up for raffle), please do let me know ASAP . Once we have approved your prize we will add you to the official prize list and let you know so that you can start promoting the campaign on your blog.
The campaign runs from 10 December to 21 December, so we don't have a load of time to get the prize list sorted out. So if you want to take part (or you have friends or acquaintances who want to donate something) please contact me as soon as possible.
Let's see if we can beat last year's total!