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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.
So I’ve found myself back in (none-too-sunny) London with high hopes of setting up the Charity. My first port of call is my former employers, Endemol UK, the creative brains behind Big Brother and Deal or No Deal. I’m here to pitch my idea to Richard Osman, the Creative Director. I’d love to get them involved and I think the meeting went well. Now all I can do is cross my fingers and hope for the best.
But do you ever think fate sometimes steps in when you need it most? As I headed out of my meeting, I stood waiting for the lift alongside a well-dressed lady who looked somewhat familiar. We got chatting over her nice tan, and I went on to tell her that I should have one, too, as I’d been in Africa for 8 weeks but there’s not much time for sunbathing when working with orphans. She asked me what I’d been doing and I went on to outline my idea as we went down five floors.
What I didn’t realise was I was pitching to the formidable Deborah Meaden of Dragons’ Den fame, and I’d unintentionally performed a classic ‘Elevator Pitch’. I told her I needed to raise £1 million in 6 months and people had told me it was impossible – but I thought it was do-able. At around the second floor, the penny dropped and I realised who she was. She assured me that, with passion and determination, anything was possible. She also said she’d be interested in finding out more!
I sent the proposal off and will follow it off as soon as I have all the documents and experts on board. I really hope she remembers me.