Online Literary Trivia Offers Fun and Funds | Program That Pop

Many libraries are cancelling their galas and other in-person fundraising events due to the global pandemic. As a member of the Next Chapter Society (NCS), which works with Tennessee’s  Nashville Public Library Foundation to fundraise for the Nashville Public Library (NPL), I worked with my committee to shift our summer activities online.

Nashville Public Library trivia poster with instructionsMany libraries are cancelling their galas and other in-person fundraising events due to the global pandemic. As a member of the Next Chapter Society (NCS), which works with Tennessee’s Nashville Public Library Foundation to fundraise for the Nashville Public Library (NPL), I worked with my committee to shift our summer activities online.

With unemployment rising, corporate donations and support from small businesses are more challenging for fundraisers to gather. We decided to focus on the individual donations that seem easier to come by in this economic climate.

Literary Trivia can be conducted online and is based on individual donations. If you’ve ever been to trivia night at a local bar, you can imagine how this event is run...but with some added technology and bookish flare.

The first online Literary Trivia run in support of NPL connected ticketed game players in a live video meeting. Funds were raised through ticket sales alone and the event garnered $816. Attendees pre-registered to play, with individuals paying $10 and teams paying $30 for up to six players on a team. The top three winning teams won prize packs of leftover PLA conference tote bags filled with branded bumper stickers, postcards, and books signed by previous NPL Literary Award Winners.


I recommend forming a team of at least three people who can plan and run this event together. The NCS Fundraising Committee of six volunteers put on our trivia event. You’ll want at least one emcee, a tech support person, and someone that runs the technology during the event.


Have branch librarians contribute questions and your organizer for this event can modify them as needed. Be sure they also submit answers! We broke our game into six rounds of five questions each with themes like general literature, youth literature, fact or fiction, film adaptations, book covers, and famous literary quotes.

Publicize your event as a fun literary trivia event that is also a fundraiser. You can use language like, “This fundraiser for [your library] is going to cover all things bookish, and we hope you’ll have fun with us.”  Use trivia questions you don’t plan to use in the game on social media for high engagement. We spent $18 to boost ads on Facebook prior to trivia.


To play, we used two different programs– Zoom and Menti. If you use Menti, your library can get an educator’s discount for a year-long membership at just under $84.

Be sure to let players know that you recommend they get Zoom in advance. They do not need an account with Menti to play, so they don’t need to sign up in advance for that.

During the trivia game, Zoom enables you to see and hear the quizmaster and any other participants that choose to leave their cameras on. It’s more fun if you can see other people while you play, and even do some crosstalk on breaks, so leaving on cameras is recommended.

Mentimeter is the quiz platform that allows your team at the library to create the game. You input questions and answers in advance, and the computer program automatically calculates your leaderboard during game play. Sticking to primarily multiple choice questions will be more popular with players. The technology is not ideal for open-ended questions: it only allows five alternate answers, so right answers that use alternate punctuation or phrasing may be scored as incorrect.

Players use Menti (the consumer-facing partnered site to mentimeter) to read and answer the questions, as well as see who is in the lead. When you create your presentation, the Menti program assigns it a numeric code. You send that to players who use it to connect with you when you start the game. Only one person from your planning committee can run the Menti presentation during the game, and that person should share their screen to Zoom so all players can see the game presentation over the Zoom call.

During the event, one of your planning teammates can answer questions in the Zoom chat—we named our tech support volunteer “TriviaHelp” so it was clear for players who they should direct message.


Be sure to outline info about how the technology will work and send it to your players.

Another area you should explain in advance is how virtual teams work, because this can be confusing. You can use language like:

  • Playing with a team and not as an individual? Here are some additional suggestions for how to do that!
  • Only one person on your team needs to register and pay the registration fee. Please designate one team captain who will submit your answers on Menti. Other teammates will see the questions over the Zoom call and should not log into Menti during the game.
  • We recommend teams connect with an additional device (such as FaceTime on your phone) for discussions about what answers to choose. That will sometimes require you to mute your computers.

We are planning our next trivia event to take place before back-to-school this fall. We are considering a themed event that might draw more than just book nerds to the game, and would be competitive with other online trivia parties begin run through bars in the city. We think trivia is opening up NPL to more donor audiences than our traditional programming, which makes us keen to continue.

Sara Wigal lives in Nashville, TN where she is the Community-Facing Co-Chair of the Next Chapter Society. She is an Assistant Professor of Cinema, Television & Media and Director of Publishing at Belmont University. Wigal has been published by the Tennessean, Publishers Weekly, and Writer's Digest. Reach out to NCS at

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