Le Web 12: Scott Harrison and Charity:Water

Liveblogged – possible mistakes

Scott Harrison, Founder & CEO, charity:water

Le Web Paris Dec 2012

Will be talking about how he got into Charity:Water. The Water Crisis etc.
A little about him. Started as a nightclub promoter. Got paid to ‘promote’ things like vodka and beer – get photographed. Looked good – no heart to life. Decided to make a change. He was miserable. Had to move on, to make a difference. Decided to go help the poor – but denied by everyone he applied for. He had no skills that would be useful. He found someone who he could pay $500 a month and help them (mercyships.org). He became their photographer. Went to Liberia. Saw real poverty and issues. (lots more about what he saw). Signed up for another year. Started to learn what was making people sick – it was dirty water. Started looking at where people are drinking from – ponds, streams, dirty water. Worked with a guy who taught people how to tap into ground water. The team was doing the surgeries, the water guy was affecting 1000s people for a fraction of the money. Came back to NY..and knew needed to make up for last time. Had seen lots of problems..but kept coming back to the water. And charity:water was born

800m people don’t have access to clean, safe, drinking water. Up to 80% of diseases by bad water and lack of toilets. 40 billion hours are wasted fetching water in Africa every year. Imagine what can people do with the time. But this is a solvable problem. There are solutions. Wells, filter water, harvest rain etc. There are ways to get this fixed. If you can bring water to community, it can change everything. Healthier, more time. Chance for better life. To learn. to start businesses. UN says every dollar invested in clear water and sanitation, gives $12 back to economy.

The challenge set was to end the water crisis, to give help. But also to re-invent charity. Friends were not giving, they distrusted charities. They gave money and it went into a charity blackhole. So had to change that. Decided that ALL the public money goes to the charity, not the operational costs. Two accounts – raised money to run charity separately to the money to effect the charity. They made sure they had proof – made everything public, so all spend can be tracked. Thirdly, wanted to build a brand. There were no aspirational charity brands he wanted to be involved in. So decided to change this.

First, ran party, Then took all the money to village in Uganda, built wells. Sent the evidence back. Did product collaborations. Challenged the marketing. Did partnerships. Pushed social media. did galas differently. Everything was creative ways to get story out there. Then they stumbled on the big idea to drive support. This was ‘give up your birthday’. Donate to charity instead of presents. etc So turned birthday into a giving moment, an unselfish day THere are many, many stories about this. One such is that of Rachel https://www.charitywater.org/blog/rachels-gift/ What started out as ‘our story’ turned into ‘Their Story’. So continued to make everything transparent. Showed where all the money goes, exactly what the money that you raise builds Now we are moving on remote sensors – to connect with the things they are building. THe project is now completely funded. Have received grant. To develop and put the sensors out in the field, so you can see what is happening.

They have raised $77m. Have been growing every year. do not think of themselves as traditional charity – but as a start up. Last year, gave 725k people clean water. Want to talk about this problem being solved – go after 100m people in next 3 years. Need to raise $3billion. PLus $300m to run the projects. Are you willing to help, to make it your story? Can you get your company involved? Can you give up your birthday?

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