In all, 4,500 people submitted a wide variety of imaginative and often touching proposals on how they would like to spend the money, ranging from sailing the world to educating African villagers, documenting nearly extinct flora to conducting an orchestra.
Those entries have been whittled to a shortlist of 50, from which the four judges will pick winners when they meet next Tuesday.
The judges are:
Baroness Perry of Southwark, the former vice-chancellor of South Bank University, who was created a life peer in 1991, and is now president-elect of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge (the only mature women's college at Cambridge). She is on the Prime Minister's panel on the Citizens' Charter advising on education and national heritage.
Tom Shebbeare has been director of the Prince's Trust since 1988. The Trust aims to help young people, particularly the most disadvantaged, to develop themselves and to serve the community. He was formerly general secretary of the British Youth Council, an international civil servant with the Council of Europe, and executive director of the European Youth Foundation. He is a director of the Institute for Citizenship Studies.
Katharine Hamnett is one of Britain's most successful international fashion designers, who has made her mark with a clever combination of simple but appealing clothes for men and women. Her spring/summer 1994 selection of fabrics uses 'organic cotton' - handpicked cotton grown without the use of chemical fertilisers or chemical pesticides - underlining her commitment to reducing the impact of cotton production on the environment.
Bob Geldof is a singer-songwriter who co-founded the Boomtown Rats rock band, and then found global fame by launching Band Aid and other fund-raising events for famine-stricken nations, for which he was given the UN World Hunger Award.