Over half a million people in the UK donated £5 to UNICEF last night. All at the same time.
I got to enjoy the show live in Glasgow – hitting the refresh button occasionally with crossed fingers. But for Rob and Paul – our Team Mobile special-ops unit at the UNICEF Control Centre – life was rather hectic.
This really was an unprecedented response and for a few terrifying minutes the mobile networks got loaded like they’ve never been loaded before. Systems creaked, bandwidths were throttled up and down (whatever that means) and bounce-backs that would usually arrive in seconds took minutes. It all got a bit…
But in the end, after lots of ‘excited’ calls between operators, broadcasters and aggregators, it worked. Backlogs cleared. All donations were taken. Donors were thanked. History was made.
What a blast.
There are so many things that I am proud to be part of here at Open, but I think that what will happen tonight will go straight to the top of the list. Because tonight, the team at UNICEF and Glasgow 2014 will (fingers crossed) pull something off that has never been done before.
I’m not going to tell you what. That would spoil months of planning, hard work and unbelievable collaboration. So if you want to know what we’ve been up to, you’ll have to tune into the Glasgow 2014 Opening Ceremony on BBC1 at 8pm.
What I will say is this: when people who are the best in their business come together, extraordinary things can happen. Tonight is thanks to people who produce and direct amazing live TV. People who travel the world and film powerful stories. People who build global donation platforms. And people who can inspire millions to act. But above all, it’s about people who won’t take no for an answer, who won’t run when the challenge feels too great or give up because the world appears not to be ready. All of these people have been inspired by the work and the vision of UNICEF. And all are united by a common belief: that we must put children first.
Monday was the day of the IWITOT “I Want To Talk At That” audition.
Fifteen young fundraisers faced the (fairly daunting) prospect of pitching both themselves and their idea to Tanya Steele, Paul de Gregorio, and Imogen Ward to win one of three speaker slots at IWITOT 2014.
Our plan was to give young talent an opportunity and the encouragement to really shine – and shine they did. The ideas were inspirational and were presented with infectious passion and character. Some people brought props. Others had memorised every word and moved around the stage with authoritative calm. We were all proud to be part of it – and all the candidates should feel the same.
The mentors deliberated and debated overnight and, although Paul described it as “one of the hardest things he’s done”, came to a decision.
They’ll now get straight to work with their individual mentors on their presentations for IWITOT 2014 – and I for one can’t wait for everyone to hear this talented trio speak.
Roll on September 16th – and if you haven’t already, buy your tickets NOW!