As much as we love shedding light on the good-natured celebrities of the world, we take equal joy in showcasing nonprofit organizations creating change in the world. charity: water, for example, is an inspiring charity that is making strides around the world. We’re thrilled to profile this awesome group of difference makers!
What is charity: water?
Originated in 2006 by Scott Harrison, charity: water works to bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries.
Harrison, a former hard-partying nightclub promoter in New York City, was inspired to start the charity after being exposed to the harsh drinking conditions of the people of Liberia during a two-year mission to Africa with Mercy Ships, an organization of doctors dedicated to helping people of African nations.
“It was really an emotional experience,” Harrison told Bill Simmons in 2016. “My actual job, my volunteer job, was to be the photojournalist and write stories on the impact of these lives.”
Harrison utilized his fan base as a promoter to increase awareness for the plight of the Liberian people.
“I’d been a promoter, I’d just been promoting the wrong thing,” he said. “I was so inspired by the selflessness that I saw and was trying to communicate that to my club list.”
He admitted that there was skepticism about his transformation into a philanthropist but he won people over when he returned home. It was during his second visit to Africa that he took notice of the lack of clean water in the community, especially in the remote rural areas.
“I had never seen people drink from swamps before. Never seen kids drink from rivers,” he told Simmons. “It’s shocking and on a human level. Something inside you just breaks.”
Harrison describes his journey and his passion for helping others in a short film posted on the charity’s website.
Realizing that the filthy water contributed to sickness and inaccessibility lead to death, Harrison took matters into his own hands. Since its launch, charity: water has received support from over a million people to help millions of underserved people in 24 countries around the world including Africa, Asia, Central America, and South America.
charity: water’s mission is just beginning. There are currently 663 million people on the planet lacking access to clean water. Dirty water is responsible for more deaths than anything else in the world.
How does charity: water operate?
Harrison set up charity: water so that 100% of all donations go directly toward funding clean water projects. Overhead costs, such as staff salaries and travel expenses, are covered by private donors.
Using photos and GPS coordinates, supporters are able to track the ways in which their donations help the cause. Plus, water sensors ensure that the clean water continues to flow after the project installation is complete.
Locals led the clean water initiatives and marketing throughout every medium (TV, Twitter, window ads, etc.) brought about awareness and influenced thousands of people to raise money and even sacrifice their birthday presents.
One of those people was Rachel Beckwith.
Shortly before her ninth birthday, Rachel Beckwith informed her mother that, instead of a wrapped gift, she wanted family and friends to donate $9 to a fundraising campaign to benefit charity: water.
Rachel raised $220. The amount was short of her $300 goal but was helpful nonetheless.
A month after her birthday, Rachel died in an accident after a tractor-trailer smashed into her family’s car. A local news report on her death mentioned her recent charitable campaign and soon donations ballooned from $220 to $1.2 million.
In the five years since her death, donors to Rachel’s campaign started another fundraiser, which brought in $1.7 million. Because of her efforts and the generosity of thousands of donors, 100,000 people got the clean water they so desperately needed.
Among the millions of donors to charity: water, many are famous faces.
Celebrity news favorites, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, donated on their birthdays in 2010 and raised over $109,000. In the years since they’ve continued to support the charity.
In Spring 2017, Depeche Mode is slated to go on tour to promote their new album, Spirit, with proceeds going toward charity: water.
“If you don’t know charity: water, you should,” guitarist Martin Gore told Rolling Stone.
“They’re an amazing organization whose goal is to bring clean, safe drinking water to everybody on the planet. On the last tour, with our fans’ help, we were able to raise over $1.4 million for charity:water. Those funds specifically brought clean water to people in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Rwanda.”
Every year the organization puts on a charity: ball at which celebrities such as Seth Meyers and Jessica Biel have served as hosts and raised millions of dollars from donors and corporations.
“Everybody that works there, they are the greatest thinkers with the most out-of-the-box ideas, the energy is unstoppable and never-ending, and it’s fun!” Biel told InStyle in 2011.
For the 2016 event, guests were directly paired with a person across the world so that they could feel the impact they’re making on a more intimate level.
charity: water’s Yellow Jerry Can & Virtual Reality
Every good charity needs an identifiable image. For charity: water it’s the yellow jerry can.
Prominent on the organization’s website and in marketing campaigns, the jerry can is a reminder of the journey the people (mainly women) of developing countries must go through to find clean water (many times a dangerous and deadly eight-hour trek).
Each year, charity: water aims to create a unique experience for guests at its gala. For example, during a recent charity: ball, guests were asked to participate in The Waterwalk, which simulated a fraction of the distance people walk to find clean water.
Recently, charity: water emphasized the impact it has throughout the world, by putting people in the footsteps of young girl in Ethiopia.
The Source is a short film about 13-year-old Selam who arduous life of collecting water is improved when she and her community get clean water for the first time.
A virtual reality exhibit of The Source was on display in New York City during the summer of 2016 and a 360 version is accessible from the charity: water Facebook page.
The goal of many charities is to one day not be needed.
There is still plenty of work to do but the more clean water that is brought to the people of the world, the closer we come to one day referring to charity: water, and other organizations like it, as a thing of the past.
Stay linked to Good Celebrity for all the latest celebrity news articles and more stories about good organizations like charity: water!