Category Archives: fundraising

Our Appeal on BBC Radio 4

Well, today’s the day. Our appeal has gone out on BBC Radio 4’s Appeal Show for all to hear and we’re getting a fantastic response from it already. Lots of lovely comments that Alan Bennett is the perfect fit for Book Aid International (we completely agree), and a fantastic response to our cause.

If you weren’t able to catch our appeal this morning (it was on a little bit early – 7.55am), then there are plenty of opportunities to listen again.

The appeal will go out again tonight at 21.26 (Sunday 19 June) and then again on Thursday 23 June at 15.27.

You can also listen to it on the BBC Radio 4 website.


Refugees supported by book donations from Book Aid International, Kenya

Volunteer librarians Charles and Steve reading to children at the Nairobi slum in Kenya


Alan Bennett records the Radio4 Appeal show, for us!

We have a guest writer for today’s blog post. Meet Jacqui Scott, our Head of Fundraising and Communications. If you have spotted some of our rather excited Tweets and Facebook posts recently, you’ll know that the rather wonderful Alan Bennett has recorded an appeal for us for the BBC Radio4 Appeal show to be broadcast on Sunday 19th June.

Jacqui was lucky enough to accompany him to the Radio 4 studios to record his appeal and this is her account of the day.

“Two sentences that any fundraiser just has to be over the moon to receive:

“Further to your application for a broadcast appeal, I am writing to advise you that, on the recommendation of its Appeals Advisory Committee, the BBC has pleasure in offering you a Radio 4 Appeal”

in an email from the BBC. And…

“Yes, I think I could do that” from hugely respected author and playwright, Alan Bennett, in response to my nervous, carefully worded letter asking if he would consider presenting the appeal.

This morning I had the great pleasure of accompanying Mr Alan Bennett to Broadcasting House to record our BBC Radio 4 Appeal, which will be first broadcast on Sunday 19th June (and if that’s a bit early for you, don’t worry, it will be broadcast twice more, and of course, is available on listen again from the BBC Radio 4 Appeal website).

I’m a huge Alan Bennett fan, but had never met him in person, so I aimed not to be a quivering, embarrassed groupy wreck when we met (of course, I’m not quite sure that I managed to achieve the cool, distant-yet-interested thing I’ve been trying to perfect for the past 40 years). The odd thing about meeting celebrities that you have followed, is that of course, you know “stuff” about them, and you can feel like they are already your friend, but of course, they know nothing about you – you have to pinch yourself once in a while. (Charmingly, Arthur Smith was leaving Broadcasting House when we arrived, and introduced himself to Alan Bennett – so I suspect all those feelings are not entirely restricted to the great unwashed like me!).

The recording itself was such an interesting process, and so professional – I can’t speak highly enough of the BBC staff, and of course, Mr Bennett himself. I know they live and breath this, but I found the way the BBC and Alan Bennett communicated so easily, really fascinating – a shared language of Broadcast! I’d never been in a radio studio (although I have been in several TV studios which are a whole different beast!). I liked the strange intimacy achieved with two small soundproofed rooms that are connected by a window – and some amazing technology.

But, at the end of the day, all I can do I now is to keep my fingers crossed and hope above hope that the appeal we recorded today will do the trick. Every £2 we raise through this appeal will enable Book Aid International to send one more book. I don’t even want to try to predict how much the support of Britain’s best-loved living playwright can do for us, and the amazing work our partners are achieving with the books we send, but I can plead that everyone reading this clicks on share, and helps get our message – that books change lives – out there.”

World Book Day success stories continue

Long after our frenzy of fundraising activities around World Book Day, we continue to hear wonderful stories about what you got up to. This, from Judy at James Allen Prep in London, is a great example:

“At James Allen Prep we were thrilled to have raised £1,450 pounds, enabling the sending of 726 books to sub-Saharan Africa.

“We celebrated reading with a week of activities including; a ‘Big Read’ on World Book Day, an ‘Extreme reading’ competition (with bookworms captured reading in trees, swimming pools and even a washing machine), a visit to our local Village Bookshop, where Hazel read to us while we used our book tokens, and bedtime stories, where classes brought teddies and chocolate milk to be read to by teachers in pyjamas.

“There were displays of activities, and each child was given a bookworm on which they could mark the books they’d read. Sponsorship was optional but the support was enormous; everyone was delighted to support such an important cause as Book Aid International. Let the world read!”

Thanks very much to all the James Allen pupils and your teachers! Your support was amazing, and it really will make a difference. Thanks to you, we’ll be changing more lives through books.

We always love to hear your stories – about fundraising for Book Aid International, or simply your relationship with books – so if you have one you’d like to share, please get in touch!

Our volunteers come in all sizes!

No doubt you know about World Book Day and may have even seen some of the World Book Day fundraising action that we’ve posted on this blog. We are always enormously grateful for the support we get from children and love how enthusiastic they are about what we do here at Book Aid International.

Because of this we were very excited to team up with St George’s CE Primary School just down the road from our headquarters. The school had a ‘dress up as your favourite book character day’ for World Book Day and raised a fantastic £150 for Book Aid International sending 75 books to Africa. They then had a competition to decide the 2 best dressed children in each year group (ages 5-11) who were then chosen to come and pay Book Aid International a visit.

We often have volunteers in and out of our offices, but not normally fourteen school children, so it was great fun!

The kids arrived at 1.45 and Martina, our Trust and Corporate Fundraiser showed them around our warehouse where all our books are kept, told them about where the books come from, what we do with them when they arrive and what happens to them when they leave us.

The children were happy to hear that the money they raised would be sending these books to Africa and quite possibly to children so similar to themselves. They were able to browse the book shelves for a little while before starting to help us stamp the books.

Gathered round tables, with stamps in their hands, in just one hour the children managed to stamp 1,946 books between them! Amazing! And not only that, but at 2.30 when they had to back to school most of them wanted to stay for the rest of the afternoon, even if it meant missing their tea!

Join us at the Borders Book Festival

The Borders Book Festival is taking place on 16-19 June in Harmony Garden, in sunny Melrose, Scotland. The festival brings together 65 extraordinary, inspirational and entertaining events with some of today’s brightest and best writers and personalities. There’s something for everyone, with Michael Parkinson, Sarah Brown, Michael Frayn, David Mitchell, Kirsty Wark and many more.

We’ll be there too, with one of our brightest and best literary supporters: Alexander McCall Smith! After a talk in the Festival Marquee about his writing, Alexander will be hosting a wonderful champagne reception in support of Book Aid International. Can’t wait!

In fact, we’re delighted that the Borders Book Festival will be supporting our work over their whole four days, with plenty of opportunities to give and find out more about what we do.

Perhaps we’ll see some of you there?

Get ready to Bike for Books

This is a big announcement: we’re on the look-out for cyclists, and we need your help! You don’t have to be super-fit or a lycra biker or anything…we only ask that you’re serious about making a difference.

In September last year a team of intrepid, cycling Book Aid International supporters did something amazing. They set off from Guildford in Surrey and pedalled all the way to our offices in Camberwell, south London.

That was the first ever Bike for Books. We were amazed at how successful it was. So now we’re doing Bike for Books again this year. And, being an ambitious little charity, we want to do even better this year.

We’d like to get a team of 100 cyclists together for this year’s Bike for Books – double the number of riders we had before. This year’s ride will set off at 9am on September 4th from Camberwell and go into the Sussex countryside, past the home of Rudyard Kipling, and end at around 5pm in the village of Burwash. More details about the route, sponsorship and treats for our riders can be found over here and on the Bike for Books event page on Facebook.

Do you fancy it? Or do you know someone who might be interested? Let us know!

Going the distance

Watching the Royal Wedding and all the crowds on the Mall recently couldn’t help but remind us of our valiant London Marathon runners, Gill Harris, Sue Weir and Markus Ketola.

If you’ve never been to the Marathon, the atmosphere around the event is every bit as electric as it appears on television. And so it ought to be, because running 26.2 miles is an incredible physical and emotional achievement. It’s an event filled with personal stories and emotion, with the crowd sometimes literally lifting the runners’ spirits to carry them through the race and over the finishing line.

We’re so grateful to Gill, Sue and Markus for choosing to represent us and raise funds on our behalf. Gill described that agonising finish for us:

“And so finally to Bird Cage Walk and the Mall. Never does 800m, 400m 365 yards, seem so long, but finally you’re there, crossing the line (4 hours 29 mins 20 secs) and it’s hard to believe that you don’t have to run any more. You have just decided that the run is never going to finish, that you are going to have to run for the whole of the rest of your life, that this is now what life is going to be like, when someone steps forward and puts a medal around your neck and a goody bag in your hand and says ‘well done’.

“I am really proud to be running for Book Aid International. From receiving books from Book Aid when I was a volunteer librarian in The Gambia, through working with them for a few months when I returned and being a regular donor of books when books were required from libraries, I have always recognised the huge contribution they make to libraries in developing countries, and the huge difference libraries and resources centres make to the lives of the people in those communities.”

Do you think you could run the Marathon for Book Aid International, and achieve what Gill, Markus and Sue did this year? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Or if you’d rather take on a smaller, sooner challenge, there are plenty of events like the Adidas Women’s 5K Challenge to try (find us in List A when you complete the registration form).

Anyone for golf?


Well this could get a little competitive!

Open only to the Book Trade, and senior members at that, we’re offering a fantastic chance to enjoy a day’s golf at the stunning Dulwich and Sydenham Hill Golf Course. The day includes a light lunch and three course dinner, prize giving and raffles – all while raising money for Book Aid International.

Here’s what Mark Smith of Quercus had to say about his experience:

“It was a fantastic day – great weather, an excellent course and we were especially pleased to have the opportunity to support Book Aid International and the great work that they do!”

You can book now for £650 plus VAT per team – and if you recruit a second team you’ll receive a £50 discount on your team’s registration! Contact Anne Race by email or call her on 020 7326 5826 to book your place. There are also sponsorship opportunities that you can talk to Anne about.

This is an annual event so there’s an opportunity for last year’s winners JGW Partnership, to hold on to their title and previous winners to see if they can beat them at their own game. For more information about the day, please take a look at our website.

Schools support World Book Day

Since World Book Day we’ve received and spotted many stories of schools fundraising for Book Aid International. Here are just a couple of them:

Newton Abbot College held a book sale.

Just look at all those happy customers!

And we spotted this fantastic article in the Hampshire Chronicle about Kings Worthy Primary School’s brilliant World Book Day celebrations. All the pupils dressed up as characters from their favourite books and carried out a whole week of book related events in order to raise money for Book Aid International.

Don’t they look great!

We expect there were many mums and dads working very hard the night before these celebrations to get costumes ready!

Huge thanks to all the schools and pupils who took part in World Book Day celebrations for us and please do keep sending in your pictures and stories. We love hearing about them!

Oh My!

Tidy Books, who carried out a fantastic competition for World Book Day to raise money and help us send more books to Africa have now teemed up with a gorgeous US website called Oh My Handmade to help raise more money for Book Aid International.

All you have to do is visit the giveaway on Oh My! then sign up for the Tidy Books newsletter. For every four subscriptions to the newsletter, Tidy Books will donate £2 to Book Aid International. £2 is enough to send 1 book to Africa. And by doing this, you’ll be in with a chance to win one of Tidy Books lovely bookcases.

It’s a brilliant offer that we’re excited to share with you, so please do take a look over at Oh My!