My Red Bowl birthday

My Red Bowl birthday

My Red Bowl birthday party – by Heather Brown

This is the story of how one donor used her birthday party as a fundraising opportunity for JAM SA.

In August 2011, I was challenged by someone from the JAM DC office to join the Team Red Bowl fundraising initiative (which encouraged people to set up teams in their office, school, church, community environment and raise funds to ‘fill’ Red Bowls for JAM’s Nutritional Feeding programmes).

At the time, the thought was rather daunting to me but as I began to consider the idea, I realised that I could use my upcoming birthday to host a Red Bowl Party. Up to that point, I had not been comfortable with throwing a birthday party for myself and expecting people to bring me a gift which I really didn’t need (very few of us have needs only wants!) but Team Red Bowl gave me a chance to indulge in my love of entertaining while at the same time helping out starving children. Team Red Bowl also gives people the opportunity to bless others in a simple way and challenges them to look beyond themselves to the needs of the less fortunate.

My first party took place in October 2011. I loved all the planning and preparation but was very nervous of the response from my friends. Initially I thought I would be happy if I raised enough to feed one child but before the party I had already received donations to cover two children so I upped the ante and set my sights on feeding five children. I counted the money while everyone was there and to my delight, I passed the five bowl figure! I kept on counting and reached R3 960 and realised that meant 11 children could be fed for an entire year! When I announced the number of children that we would be feeding, it was with tears of joy and gratitude running down my cheeks.

Since them I have had two more birthday parties, in 2012 and in 2013. At these parties, I challenge people in many ways, either with an immediate gift at the party, throwing a Red Bowl Party of their own (which many have done), or filling a Red Bowl as a gift for a friend.

I have also signed up people for regular monthly donations to JAM and to the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet programme and encouraged them to Add Hope when they visit a KFC (JAM SA is one of 90 beneficiaries of the Add Hope initiative, which raised R47 million from customer and franchisee contributions in 2013).

I also have friends who have used their talents to make and sell items and then donate to JAM. I have taught beading classes and spoken at various churches for donations to Team Red Bowl.

Team Red Bowl has been a wonderful growth experience for me and has challenged me in so many ways that I am so much the better for it!

Heather Brown, JAM SA donor

If you have some fundraising experiences or ideas that you would like to share with us, please email