Pennies For Porridge

Any runner worth their salt knows that porridge can be a great fuel for running but at African Children’s Fund, the charity I’m running the London Marathon for, porridge is a fuel for learning.  Read on to find out how I’m using porridge as inspiration for my marathon training, as well as the theme for one of my fundraising events.

Nowadays there always seems to be someone or something calling you to spare some of your money; whether it’s the pink of Breast Cancer awareness in October, the hairiness of Movember in November, the quite frankly ridiculous sponsor-me-for-not-binge-drinking in January or the high profile alternating Comic and Sports Relief in March, there’s a lot more competition for your cash.

All this means is it harder for the smaller charities to make themselves heard – which is one of the reasons I’m running for African Children’s Fund.

Equally, you can’t just expect people to make donations; you need to find other ways to encourage people to part with their hard earned cash, especially as money is still tight for a lot of people.

Pennies For Porridge

In Kenya, primary education is free but when parents cannot afford to feed their children, they send them to work, beg or scavenge for food rather than sending them to school.

To encourage parents to send children to school (and help them learn effectively when they’re there) African Children’s Fund now supports 9 schools in and around Thika to establish “Porridge Clubs” where every child is provided with a nutritious portion of porridge.

With a portion of porridge costing just 7p every penny really does count.

This incredibly small amount of money has an enormous value:

  • absence rates down by 80%
  • fewer children falling ill
  • more children actively participating in physical education
  • higher levels of enrolment and completion
  • higher level of achievements in exams

Before hearing about the Porridge Clubs I wouldn’t have even bothered bending down for 7p but now I’m straight down for it to post it into my “Pennies For Porridge” box.  And here in lays one of my fundraising ideas to engage my work mates.

To mark 10 weeks to go until the London Marathon – my first ever marathon – I’m launching a little “Pennies For Porridge” competition in my office.  The principle is simple:

Who can fill their “Pennies For Porridge” penny box with the most portions of porridge in the 10 weeks remaining until race day?

As a benchmark, I’ve just finished filling my penny box so had the fun of emptying and counting the contents.

Here’s my geeky Dan-alysis [see what I did there? 😉 ]:

Number of coins: 327

Total value: £24.12 (and 0.5Fr)

Portions of porridge: 344

That’s enough to keep a child in school for 1 year, 4 months and 2 weeks.  Amazing, and just from clearing out my wallet when it starts to get a bit bulky.

Did someone say OCD? Part of the fun is emptying, sorting and counting your penny box!
Did someone say OCD? Part of the fun is emptying, sorting and counting your penny box!

As you can see, my “pennies” actually ranged from pennies all the way to a cheeky pound coin (how did that get in there?!) and a puzzling half-franc (what the…?!).

And the size of the “Pennies For Porridge” box?  7cm x 7cm x 7cm of course!

It costs 7p for a portion of porridge.


7p provides a portion of porridge
7p provides a portion of porridge

I bet there’s more than that down the side of your sofa.  How much porridge could you get into a 7cm cube?  I’m challenging my fellow office dwellers to find out.  If you also want to get involved then by all means get in touch or download a PDF penny box template.

Alternatively, if you want to cut out the fun and get on with donating then please head to my fundraising page and make a porridge-related donation:

£7.00 provides 100 portions of porridge

£17.50 provides a portion of porridge to a child for a year


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