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Yesterday we launched our website and went to a Digital Dinner at The Spectator magazine, hosted by Matthew D’Ancona.
On my way up to London, I was desperately trying not have a panic attack at the thought of my life being on the world wide web and going to The Spectator to dine with very influential people. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to discuss the Child’s i Foundation with Matthew D’Ancona, Simon Andrews, Amelia Torode, Deb Khan, James Forsyth, Don Boyd, Matthew Knight, Kirsty Stephenson and Richard Osman.
I didn’t have to worry, we had a wonderful time and everyone really liked the idea and discussed how we could make the project a ‘charity 2.0′ collaborative proposition. I wanted to capture the moment for all our Supporters so asked our friends at Flip to lend us a camera so you can see the evening for yourselves.
Today Michelle and I were signing off our fundraising strategy, but we’ve hit a huge snag. We’ve just discovered it could take up to 9 weeks to get a code from HMRC – and that means we can’t activate our Justgiving account. We didn’t want to make the website active before we had a means for our supporters to donate, particularly because we’re developing a beautiful ‘Buy A Brick’ application, which will allow everyone to buy virtual brick to help build our home.
So should we launch Child’s i Foundation to the world without an online donation mechanism?
Just as we were puzzling it out, my phone rang. It was Deborah Meaden. What followed was an amazing 20-minute conversation, which I find hard to believe actually happened. She told me she had read my proposal, and was incredibly impressed with what I had accomplished and what an impressive team I had put together. I had turned the idea I pitched to her in the lift (apparently ‘very well’) into a reality. Her only remaining question was whether anyone else was already doing this kind of thing out in Uganda, but as our priority is resettling our children into families, we have a USP.
I then took the opportunity to pick her brains over the current quandary – should we launch without the donation mechanism in place? She replied with advice she had never given before – Yes, launch. Commercially, she would never suggest us to go ahead but as our aim is to create a worldwide community of supporters, she felt we should focus on building up the community, then launch ‘Buy A Brick’ at a later stage, when we’d generated lots of support and interest.
As for her involvement in our project, she is already working with Action Against Hunger. She is a lady of her word and when she says she is going to commit to something she puts in 100%, so she can’t commit to our project as well. I really respect her and wish her lots of luck on her trip out to visit one of AAH’s projects in the New Year. She did say she is always at the end of the phone if I needed advice, which is extremely comforting to know. Thank you, Deborah. You made my week.
I met with our Architect, Dominic Taylor today. He’s kindly agreed to design the home for us. Earlier this year, Dom arranged for 65 architecture students at the University of Bath to help him design the babies’ Home, nursery, volunteer accommodation, staff accommodation and administration block. To look at the other designs go to Flickr
It wasn’t until Dom spelt it out exactly what is involved that I realised what this really means. Altogether we’re talking 1,117m2 of buildings. In the UK, it costs around £1500 per square metre to build and costs around £1.7m. An architects fee is around 6%.
Basically, Dominic is donating over £100,000- worth of support.
I now get just how ‘kind’ he is.
Today I spent the day working out a strategy for my business plan, with the help of Chris Ingram, a friend who has taken a week off work to support me. We completely plastered his living room with post-it notes, and it showed me just what a massive undertaking this project is – and how very lucky I am to have inspiring people around me to help me along the way. Chris put me in touch with his HR manager, Toby Lott, and we chatted for hours about my life – a strange combination of working on reality TV and working with orphans. While we chatted, I was reminded of the show that started my own journey into TV – Challenge Anneka.
Remember the episode when Anneka and her sparkly jumpsuit went out to a Romanian orphanage? This powerful piece of film inspired thousands of people to support Romania and make a difference to the children’s’ lives. TV can be a very powerful tool for social change and I went into it wanting to make a difference. Having worked on shows that have engaged audiences of millions, I wanted to use the power of the media to create a connection so people would support us because they wanted to change lives, and not out of a sense of guilt.
This idea has been a dream of mine now for two years, but I kept stalling because I was uncomfortable with the idea of putting myself in front of the camera. I have spent years producing TV and very rarely put myself out there. I have come to realise I have nothing to fear because this dream of building a home for babies is not just my project. It is all of ours.