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Program: DINNER OF COMPASSION


Detailed Instructions

These are general instructions for putting on a successful Dinner of Compassion. Please modify them as you see fit to support the unique needs of your group or Church.

Planning

1. Pick a date well in advance, to allow adequate time for publicity, invitations etc.

2. Select an organization to be the beneficiary of the funds collected during the Dinner of Compassion.

3. If appropriate, contact the benefiting organization to arrange for a guest speaker. In lieu of a speaker, endeavor to obtain literature and/or a DVD presentation about the organization.

4. Once speaker has been identified, submit News Releases to your local newspaper (if appropriate) and put announcement in your newsletter and bulletins.

5. Send out invitations to your mailing list. Be sure to include one to the beneficiary organization, and a special one to your guest speaker.*

6. Organize a committee to plan, cook and serve the dinner, including set-up and clearing.*

7. Two weeks before the event, send out reminder email.

8. One week before the event, follow-up with phone calls. Reconfirm time and date with the guest speaker.


The Event

1. Set up tables with appropriate decorations, i.e. simple plastic cloths and literature about the program if available.

2. Station someone near the door to serve as the greeter. On a small table also near the door, place a container to collect the donations. It is good to have a large sign with instructions regarding the writing of checks, or if you accept credit card donations.

3. You may wish to have a sign-in sheet to use later to develop a mailing list, and to send thank you notes after the dinner.

4. Set up a serving line. We try to duplicate the lines at our local shelters so that attendees get a sense of what it is like for the homeless and poor.

5. When all the guests have arrived and been seated, welcome everyone. This is a good time to explain the idea of a Dinner of Compassion, and to tell the guests how tonight's dinner will work.

6. Have a seat at a table identified with a place card, for the guest speaker.

7. Serve a simple dinner, keeping the portions small, again similar to that which would be served in a shelter, or at the dining table of a low income family. For instance, you might choose to serve a bowl of soup and a piece of bread, with a small dessert or piece of fruit. This is not the time to overwhelm people with bounty, but rather to encourage compassion for the truly hungry.

8. As dinner is winding down, introduce the guest speaker, and/or present any video material.

9. Thank the speaker, and point out the donation basket for those who may have missed it on the way in, and for those who may wish to increase their donation.

10. Encourage further dialogue at the tables now that the guest speaker has shared information on his/her organization.

11. Share information on the date and cause for the next Dinner of Compassion. You may have an annual dinner or plan them more frequently. We have found that quarterly dinners work well for us. It allows us to keep the idea of ending world hunger clearly on our agenda, as well as it allows us to benefit several local charities that are actively feeding the hungry.

12. Give the collected funds to the beneficiary organization. We have found that it especially impactful to count the money and to hand it over to the speaker that night. Everyone seems to enjoy knowing how much was donated. If possible, the Church or organization may choose to "match" the funds. It is good to have a Receipt Book available to record the donation.

13. Send thank you notes to those who attended, as well as "Save the Date" card regarding your next Dinner of Compassion.


Expanding the Dinner of Compassion to the Home

1. The Dinner of Compassion can be held in your private home, with only your family, or you may invite a couple of neighboring families.

2. Again, a simple meal is served, and the money normally spent on the meal, either at home or in a restaurant, is donated to an organization that feeds the hungry.

3. The organization may be chosen by group consensus, or the host may choose it prior to the dinner.

4. Sharing of information about the organization should take place during the dinner. Some organizations have DVDs which you could possible watch, or they have literature available.

5. During and after the meal it is best to encourage conversation centering on the problem of world hunger.


Variations

1. As an addition to your group's Dinner of Compassion, you may encourage members to have private dinners in their homes during the time between your group's Dinners of Compassion. They can save the money they collect from their individual dinners, and bring it to your next dinner.

2. An example: One church conducts Dinners of Compassion quarterly. Their simple meal consisted of rice and beans. At the group dinner, participants were give small boxes similar to the rice boxes you get at a Chinese restaurant. They were to be used as banks, collecting funds from the families' private Dinner of Compassion, which they had during the ensuing months.