Well hey there.
Autumn is settling in. Sophie's gone on holiday. I've just finished a cup of tea. Everyone else is user-testing. So that can only mean it's time for some blog.
Last weekend, our Operations team (they're a bit like the A-Team, but with better aim) transferred ALL of Justgiving to its new digital home.
Charlie, head of Ops, made a groovy video which showcases the rather awesome-looking hardware we've got over at Qube.
Check it out:
So what this means is Justgiving will remain plenty fast for the foreseeable future and John will be able to do lots of fun things with databases, without breaking everything. Well done Charlie, Tim, Hem and Sukh for such a smooth transition.
Good luck to Grant Logan and the rest of the team who will be attempting to pull a Boeing 757 jumbo jet 100 metres along the runway at Lasham Air Field this weekend, in their wheelchairs.
You might remember Grant from the amazing Ben Nevis challenge with The Wheel Life which we blogged about back in May. Obviously not content with climbing the highest mountain in Britain in his wheelchair, he's turning his wheels to a new challenge, this time in aid of the British Dissabled Flying Association.
If you're in the area, go along and cheer them on!
Guitar Hero fans at JG towers* were very excited (and a little bit envious) when we found out about the Guitar Hero Marathon that Sony Ericsson are doing this month, to raise money for The Honeypot Charity.
Some of their staff are dressing up and showing off their best guitar heroics on 26th and 27th September at their store on High Street Kensington and they're inviting everyone to turn up and cheer them on (or point and laugh at their costumes).
If you'd like to support the cause, you can make a donation - and unleash your inner rock jokes - on their Justgiving page :)
*Here's Jonno playing some Dragonforce (but not quite as well as this kid)
Remember back in August when we told you about our travels round the country, listening to your feedback?
Well we've been off on more travels, this time across the pond in Boston, Chicago and LA (yes the whole breadth of the states, east to west) talking to even more people, stopping off at our US office in Boston on the way.
It's been really interesting to hear what people have had to say about fundraising and donating to charity in the US and to hear some feedback on our ideas for developing the Justgiving and Firstgiving websites.
We'll be incorporating all of it into our work to make the sites even better, and we'll be telling you more about our progress with that over the next few months.
In the meantime, if you'd like to give us your feedback or you're interested in being involved in our research, just get in touch at [email protected]
It’s gone. Ryan Carson’s hair, that is.
As promised, he shaved it all off yesterday (apart from a pretty fierce mohawk the last we saw) to raise money for AbilityNet.
It all happened live on ustream.tv and things got so busy here at JG Towers that we had no time to blog it on the day. Doh :( Sorry about that.
But… it didn’t stop loads of you watching anyway and we were really happy to see people donating to Ryan’s Justgiving page as the event was happening. Yay!
He’s managed to raise loads already but donations are still coming in and he needs quite a few more to reach his massive target.
We like the way he’s come up with a clever system of incentives for your donations… just the kind of creative fundraising we love here at JG.
And thanks to the wonders of Twitter, we've been able to get a little message from Ryan this afternoon. He says: "JustGiving.com made raising $$ for charity unbelievably easy. Why *wouldn't* you use it?" Thanks for that :)
* Title of this post nabbed from a witty comment on the Carsonified blog
Impressed by the ever-growing total on their Justgiving page and interested to hear more, we asked Daisy a few questions about their ambitious challenge, which they completed last month.
Congratulations! Have you got the feeling back in your legs yet?
Thanks! Happily we never lost the feeling in our legs - it got close around day 5 when I nearly fell asleep whilst pedalling, but that was more about total exhaustion. We did however regularly loose the feeling in our bums and fingers...
What was the hardest part?
The times when we had to carry on even though we were very tired, very sore and very bored! They were really tough. And because we were camping the whole way we had pretty heavy bikes which made hills hard work.
Top 5 hard bits, in ascending order of difficulty:
1) Much Wenlock - a pretty town but we would have been drier if we'd put our tent up in the deep end of the local swimming pool.
2) Cycling into headwinds - so tiring and depressing because you put in so much effort to go very, very slowly!
3) Devon - pretty in a car, punishing on a bicycle. 100 miles of tiny winding roads with relentless, ruthless gradients, and because the roads are sunk below the level of the fields, you rarely get a view over the hedgerows. Gruelling.
4) Navigating the horrific roads out of Bristol that take you under the M4 and over the M5.
5) A595 into Carlisle - the scariest road to cycle in Britain. A narrow single carriageway that ploughs up and down hills and is rammed with lorries thundering up and down. Scary!
And the best bits?
1) A tiny pub called the Crask Inn on a beautiful remote road just north of Lairg in northern Scotland. It had a lovely one-eyed dog and the best ham and cheese toasties.
2) Cycling into the Wye Valley in Wales - an incredibly beautiful, dramatic surprise.
3) We treated ourselves to an evening floating in the spa in Bath. At the end of our 4th day this was perfectly timed since our legs and shoulders were starting to get very cranky.
4) Hunting for local fishmongers and butchers so we could cook up a feast on our excellent Primus stove.
5) We loved meeting people along the way. At the end of our trip we were so struck by how kind, generous and funny Brits are - we give ourselves an awful press and we shouldn't! British people are ace.
What made you decide to do it in the first place?
Last summer we had a fantastic time cycling in the Outer Hebrides. On our journey home we met 3 girls at Inverness station who had just finished Land's End to John O'Groats. I felt a sudden flash of jealousy, and the seed was sown.
We love exploring Britain, and cycling is excellent fun, so pairing the two together was pretty logical. What perhaps made a little less sense was deciding to do it 2 months before we get married. The week before we left for the trip, I found myself having extraordinary conversations alternating between finding the perfect Big White Dress and Puncture Resistant Touring Tyre.
Can you tell us more about The Laura Case Trust?
It funds medical and educational projects in the UK and in Africa and was set up in memory of Laura, the younger sister of our very good friend Melissa. Laura was in her final year training to be a doctor when she died in a bus accident whilst working in a hospital in Uganda. Melissa was our cupid and introduced us - she is a wonderful friend so it’s important for us to show her and her family support by fundraising for the trust.
Even though it’s quite new, the trust has already helped support some excellent projects. It funds things that Laura would have believed important and also where a relatively small amount of money goes a long way on the ground.
One thing that Laura was very struck by when she was working as a doctor in Uganda was the dire lack of equipment. When asked by one of the nurses in the hospital she was working in whether there were differences between hospitals in the UK and Uganda, she said "Well, in the UK, there is usually only one person per bed, rather than the four here".
Earlier this year the trust gave a grant of £1500 to an inspirational young charity called READ International, which collects good quality second-hand school books in the UK and sends them to schools in Tanzania. Future plans for the trust include setting up a scholarship or bursary in Laura’s name, to help fund medical school for those who might not otherwise be able to afford it.
Are you surprised by how much you’ve raised?
We are amazed! Our friends and families have been so generous, and on wet, difficult, tired days the feeling of their support was so important.
We've also been astounded by how much total strangers have given us along the way. At the end of a long day's cycling we were sitting in a pub in Scotland writing our journal and nursing much deserved pints. We fell into conversation with the locals about our trip and ended up giving one man, a certain Stuart McConnachie, our Justgiving url. When we checked online the following day to see how our Justgiving page was doing, we were astounded to see that he'd donated £200. Just amazing, a real highlight of the trip.
Any good tips for other Justgiving fundraisers?
We met lots of people along the way who wanted to sponsor us, which was wonderful. We had an idea that it would be really good to make little business cards with our Justgiving url on it. Weight and space was a real premium for us, and little cards would be light and you could just keep them in your pocket. We didn't keep a blog (no time, and we certainly weren't going to carry a laptop!) so we updated our Justgiving page every now and then.
For us, the most important thing was teamwork. When Theo and I worked together as a team and acknowledged our strengths and weaknesses we found it so much easier than the times when we battled on as individuals. For example, I was good at getting us up hills, but hopeless at putting up the tent, and Theo is a brilliant map reader but found the rain a bit miserable. Plenty of brilliant analogies and lessons learnt for our forthcoming marriage!
A couple of times a year, a select band of happy JGers troop off to the various conferences organised by the lovely folks at Carsonified:
They are pretty awesome. We've made lots of friends at each event and seen really inspiring people speak, especially the Future of Web Apps conference (or FOWA, as the kids call it). FOWA is definitely the UK tech fixture. It's introduced us to all sorts of cool things, like MOO's awesome minicards, to tracking trips on dopplr or nodding furiously in agreement with everything the founders of Get Satisfaction said about customer service in the digital age. And live diggnation is quite something.
So we were excited to see on twitter today that head Carsonite, Mr Ryan Carson himself, is shaving his head, live, this thursday at 5pm GMT, following in the footsteps of Digg's Kevin Rose and the permanently hyper Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV. It's all going down at ustream.tv and we'll have the link nearer the time.
We reckon his signature hat may well be seen more regularly as a consequence. Here's Kai and I as Carsonites last time we were visiting the good folks at Firstgiving in Boston:
Check out Ryan's Justgiving page here:
Reading my google alerts this morning over a bowl of bran flakes I came across a story that made me recoil in shock and fear - it was a story in the Wiltshire Times about a very brave man called Simon Guerrero.
I became a father on the 11th of June, 2008. My little boy, Oscar, needed a little extra help at the start of his life from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Bath's Royal United Hospital. The staff at NICU were fantastic and helped Oscar with the last little push he needed, so that he and his mum could come home.
So far, so reassuringly praise-worthy. But it's what he's doing, or rather *not* doing, to raise money that horrified me - giving up cheese for a whole month:
www.justgiving.com/nocheese (complete with an ode to cheese)
Yes, that's no cheese for the month of August.
Here's a picture of how that made me feel (next to the cheeses of the world poster that lives on the wall next to my desk):
Like many of us at Justgiving, I'm a massive fan of the Parmesan, always set for a Raclette and get fumin' without no Gouda with cumin (one of my top 5 European cheeses) - this you will see if you search for "uber tartiflette", my favourite Reblochon cheesy dish.
So I went as pale as Wensleydale when I saw what Simon was up to and his promise that...
All meals and snacks will be audited before consumption to ensure cheese is not involved in any way.
Simon, we Port Salute you.
We know we've been a bit quiet on the blog this last week.
Why? Well it's because we've been listening to you. Or as many of you as we can track down anyway...
For the last 3 weeks, a few of us from JG towers have been venturing outside the office, even outside London <gasp> to talk to you about your experience of using Justgiving.
So far, we've been to Norwich and Bristol and today we're off to Birmingham. It's been brilliant to meet you and really interesting to hear your feedback and ideas. We'll be updating you again on all of this very soon.
In the meantime, you've been pretty busy yourselves. Here's a selection of just a few of the Justgiving pages that we've noticed:
And of our more famous Justgivers, Sebastian Faulks has been padalling from Henley to Wargrave in aid of The Mood Foundation and Kevin Murphy is swimming the channel (again) to raise money for The MS Society.
Phew. Keep up the good work :)