Scott Harrison, Founder & CEO, charity:water
Thirst for Changing the World
The statement “I want to change the world” is thrown around a lot nowadays, perhaps most notoriously by millennials. But it’s rare that a young person does justice to those words and truly makes a world-changing impact.
So when a 20-something partier fell prey to that idealistic dream 10 years ago, you would have been right to doubt the likelihood of his success. But fast-forward to today, and Scott Harrison’s social enterprise charity:water has delivered clean drinking water to 6.3 million in more than 20,000 communities across 24 countries. And he’s not done changing the world just yet.
From professional partier to globe-trotting philanthropist, Harrison’s sincerity and dedication to charity: water shines through as he takes a break from his world-changing mission to share his incredible story with Foundr.
A Decade of Partying
Scott Harrison had a difficult childhood. At a young age, his mother was struck with a debilitating illness, which left her dependent on the help and support of others, including her young son. This left Harrison shouldering a lot of responsibility, negotiating growing up and acting as a caretaker for his mother. But as he left behind childhood, things changed.
“At 18, after really playing by the rules, living out a pretty good Christian faith until that time, I just lost the plot. I moved to New York City and became a nightclub promoter. I spent the next 10 years of my life living as selfishly and decadently as one might imagine a nightclub promoter would live.”
Harrison dropped his faith and became a successful nightclub entrepreneur, indulging fully in the hedonistic Big Apple nightlife. He spent a decade promoting top NYC nightclubs and events, catering to rich bankers and celebrities. Harrison made a great living getting people drunk and selling $500 bottles of champagne to his clientele, and he spent it all on himself.
“I had a nice watch, a nice car, a nice apartment, my girlfriend was on the cover of magazines at the time.”
As Shakespeare put it in Romeo and Juliet, “These violent delights have violent ends,” and things came crashing down for Harrison around his 30th birthday. He had everything he wanted, yet life seemed bleak and meaningless. “I was rotten on the inside,” he recalls. “I was spiritually, morally bankrupt.”
“I started applying to all of the big humanitarian organizations of the world. One by one, I was rejected because of course they are very serious organizations. I’m this nightclub guy.” Harrison says. “Finally, one organization actually took me. They said I could volunteer if I was willing to live in Liberia and pay $500 a month for the pleasure of volunteering. So I did. That changed my life.”
Trading the Nightlife for the African Sun
Harrison was sent to Liberia as a photojournalist, and his time there proved formative. Having lived in a spacious loft and eaten in the fanciest restaurants in New York, the poverty he witnessed was a stark contrast to what he’d left behind.
“I saw people there drinking muddy water for the first time. I couldn’t believe this was going on in a world where people were coming into a club and buying $10 bottles of VOSS water and not even opening them.”
For Harrison, this reality was unacceptable—for anyone, ever. He decided that his life mission was to bring clean drinking water to everybody on the planet.
“The problem was, there was 1.2 billion people on the planet that were drinking dirty water.”
It was the type of mission that couldn’t be accomplished alone, so upon his return to the United States, Harrison set about trying to raise awareness and funds from his friends and family. He’d shove his laptop in front of anyone who would let him to show them the many pictures he took of people drinking dirty water. In the process, he realized that his first challenge wouldn’t be to try to figure out how to get water to the many that needed it. The first step was to overcome people’s deep mistrust of charities.
“I began talking to my friends about this; I realized that so many people didn’t trust charity. In fact, 42 percent of people in America don’t trust charity. And the biggest problems people seemed to have were all around money. People would ask, ‘Where does my money really go?’ ‘How much will really get to the people in need?’” Harrison says. “The real mission was to reinvent charity. To create a new kind of organization that people who had lost faith could actually trust again.”
So Harrison created charity: water in 2006, first as an effort to heal the relationship between the public and charity, and then (“colon”) to bring water to those that needed it.
Harrison’s reinvented charity model had four main goals in mind:
- 100 percent of donations go to the cause. Funding for overhead and behind the scenes—things like staff salaries, flights, the office—would be supported separately by a small group of people excited about this type of funding.
- Use technology to connect donors with their impact. Too many charities leave people in the dark about what their dollars are doing. Charity: water would change this through the power of technology and the internet.
- A beautiful charity brand. Especially in 2006, charities brands were lackluster compared to for-profit companies like Apple or Nike. Harrison set out to change that.
- Develop local project capacity. Westerners wouldn’t be sent overseas to build the water projects. Charity: water would develop the abilities of the communities receiving the funds to build and maintain their own water projects.
“On day one, I threw a party in a nightclub, trying to redeem my past. I got 750 people to come out. I charged everyone $20 to come in and this time instead of putting the $15,000 in my back pocket, 100 percent of the money was sent to do charity: water’s first few projects in northern Uganda,” Harrison said.
“After the projects were built, we immediately sent back the photos, the GPS, and the video of the clean water flowing back to the people who attended the party. People could not believe that a charity actually cared to show them where their money was going.”
Harrison initially did fundraising by selling $20 bottles of water, but environmental and sustainability concerns led him to change this model to one that has since disrupted the charity field. He was one of the first to start the trend of people donating their birthdays instead of receiving gifts. Since then, thousands of people have done so, and many more have held a variety of creative fundraisers to support charity: water.
Harrison has set the charity up so that a specific group of funders donate towards the operations of the organization – things like salaries, overhead, travel are covered by this group. Outside this group and for most people encountering charity:water’s brand, all of the cash donated goes directly to the cause.
All the while, Harrison has built up one of the most recognizable charity brands out there, and has been copied by many other humanitarian organizations. Harrison attributes the power of the story to helping him build charity: water’s vibrant brand.
“For us it’s really about storytelling. It’s building a culture that looks for stories everywhere, that celebrates stories,”
Harrison says. “Six hundred and sixty-three million people don’t have clean water. Anybody reading that freezes. It means nothing. It almost pushes you towards paralysis. We cannot process these huge numbers. They do not inspire us to act. But if I tell people about a 13-year-old girl in northern Ethiopia who is walking eight miles to get dirty water every single day, and one day after her eight-hour walk before she reaches her house she slips and spills her water.
Instead of going back for more water she hangs herself from a tree. The villagers and her parents then find her body swinging from a tree in her village. That feels different.”
Charity: water has since told thousands of powerful stories like the one above, in addition to over 400 videos connecting the “haves” with the “have-nots” in a real way.
“We believe that being generous unlocks more generosity.”
Tips to becoming a social entrepreneur from Scott Harrison
- Is someone else doing it? Join them instead. “Can you raise money for them? Can you support that organization? Is there someone else that you can go raise money and awareness for?”
- Zone in on your problem. “What is the problem you are trying to solve? What does your end state look like? Our end state is very clear—it’s the day on earth when no one needs to drink nasty, dirty water.” Figure yours out too.
- Get ready for some serious sacrifice. “You’ll spend more time frustrated. It’s an incredibly emotional journey. It requires a lot of tenacity. There is a great level of sacrifice that often comes with starting a mission-driven organization. Me and everyone else at charity water could be making a multiple of what we are making. You have to realize that you are making yourself rich not directly, but by making other people’s lives rich.”
- The art of storytelling and why it’s so important for any social enterprise
- How to craft a story that everyone can relate to
- How to build and run a worldwide enterprise through nonprofit philosophies
- How to inspire and build a team of thousands of volunteers who believe in your vision
- How to build a brand that inspires
Full Transcript of Podcast with Scott Harrison
Nathan: Hello and welcome guys to another episode. My name is Nathan Chan. I’m the CEO and publisher of Foundr Magazine and also, the host of the Foundr Podcast coming to you live from hometown Melbourne, Australia. And I’m really excited about today’s guest. His name is Scott Harrison and he is the founder of an incredible company called Charity: Water. If you’re in the States, I’m sure you would’ve heard of it. I definitely had heard of it already here from Australia and this person is on an incredibly game-changing mission to provide everyone in the world with clean drinking water.
He threw off some just insane crazy stats which are truly heartbreaking to know that so many people don’t even have access to clean drinking water in the world and, you know, these are…for pretty much most people listening to this podcast right now, I’m sure that you would be in much more fortunate situations and Scott’s on an absolute mission to try and make a massive impact in the world. And we always try and interview as many socially conscious and social innovator entrepreneurs and yeah, he’s one of them, and he talks about how to start a social enterprise and how to make a difference in the world. And yeah, incredible podcast interview. In fact, even after doing it, I went and signed up to their subscription service and we donate on subscription now to Charity: Water because it’s such an incredible cause. I’d highly urge you guys to check it out, check out more of what they do, and Scott Harrison shares a ton of gold on what it takes to build and grow a successful company in the social enterprise space.
All right, guys. That’s it from me. If you are enjoying these episodes, please do take the time to leave us a review on iTunes, Stitcher, or even Soundcloud or Spotify. Wherever you’re listening, please do leave us a review. It helps us more than you can imagine. It helps this podcast get found. It helps us help more people. And if you do have any friends that are entrepreneurial, please do let them know about this podcast, please do share it with them. Please do encourage them to listen. We’re doing our very best to provide you the best possible interviews out there with hard-to-reach founders and entrepreneurs that you might not hear otherwise. All right, guys, that’s it from me. Now, let’s jump to the show.
So the first question that I ask everyone that I speak to is how did you get your job?
Scott: How did I get my job? In this case, I created my job. The job didn’t exist. So I was living on a closet floor of a friend’s house when I started Charity: Water and the living room became the office. And I think with…often with a lot of causes or nonprofits, my advice to people is hey, go find someone who is doing what you wanna do and join them instead of starting something. And in my case, I just couldn’t find anyone else out there doing what I wanted to do, doing what I had the vision for.
Nathan: I see. So tell us, how did Charity: Water get started?
Scott: So the back story is probably a little important. I had grown up in a pretty bizarre childhood situation. My mom had gotten very sick when I was four years old, family planning and stuff. So I grew up as an only child in a home with an invalid mother and really had a lot of responsibility. I was helping take care of her. And at 18, after really playing by the rules, living out a pretty good Christian faith until that time, I just lost the plot. I moved to New York City. I became a nightclub promoter and spent the next 10 years of my life living as selfishly and decadently as one might imagine a nightclub promoter would live. I was throwing parties for a living, I was getting people drunk, I was selling $500 bottles of champagne to bankers and celebrities and really living only for myself.
And after 10 years in the decade, my life looked great. I had a nice watch and a nice car and a nice apartment and my girlfriend was on the cover of magazines at the time, but I was rotting on the inside. I was deeply emotionally bankrupt and spiritually bankrupt and morally bankrupt, and I’d really compromised all the values that I had been brought up to honor. So I had a moment, a kind of cathartic moment in South America in a party town called Punta del Este, where I had been partying for days and just realized that if I continued down this path, if I continued down the nightclub promoter entrepreneurship path, the legacy I would leave would be a meaningless one. I would get millions of people wasted for a living and I wanted more for my life.
So I began to rediscover a very lost faith as a kid, a lost morality, and came back to New York City, wound up selling almost everything I owned to try something very different, to try to explore the exact opposite of what my life might look like if I served others for a living. The idea at the time was to apply to humanitarian organizations, to give one year of service to the poor and see where that might take me. So I began applying to the famous humanitarian organizations of the world. One by one, I am rejected because they’re, of course, very serious, credible people and I’m this nightclub guy that they didn’t know how I would be useful. And then finally, one organization actually took me and said that I could volunteer if I was willing to live in Liberia and I was willing to pay $500 a month for the pleasure of volunteering. So I did, and that changed my life.
I went from a nightclub promoter to a humanitarian volunteer in Liberia, West Africa right after a 14-year civil war had ended. And while I was there, I saw people drinking muddy water for the first time and I had never seen women, I had never seen children drink from swamps and infested ponds and murky rivers before. And just couldn’t believe that this was going on, that this kind of suffering was going on in a world where guys would walk into my clubs and buy $10 bottles of Boss water and not even open them.
Nathan: Man, wow. So what happened next?
Scott: Well, I wound up spending almost two years on this humanitarian mission in Liberia and was just so inspired by people getting help, the belief that we really could help bring people out of extreme poverty by offering basic needs and do that through local partners. So I came back to New York City and really had a pretty clear vision to help create a day on Earth where no one drank dirty water. It was just crazy to me that human beings, that children were dying of diarrhea because they were drinking from swamps simply because of the conditions they had been born into. That was a pretty simple mission, bring clean drinking water to everybody on Earth. The big problem was there were 1.2 billion people on the planet that were drinking dirty water.
At the time, it was one in six people on the planet were drinking dirty water. So that would be the mission. But as I began talking to my friends and trying to get them excited about this, I realized that they thought that was a good idea but they didn’t trust charities. They didn’t trust the charitable system and I would hear time and time again that charities were black holes. They swallowed money. They were opaque and not transparent. Everybody seemed to have a horror story or a scandal that they could pull out of their back pocket of a charity that had done wrong by the public. So the real vision, if the mission was to provide clean water, the real vision was to create a new kind of charity, to reinvent charity, to create a new kind of organization that the people who had lost faith could actually trust again.
And that’s what sort of came together in the idea for Charity: Water, the vision being to reinvent charity and spark a movement of people who might be disenchanted but could come back to the table to take another look with a new business model and a new way of doing things. And then the mission, after the core one, being water.
Nathan: I see. And you guys have been around for almost 10 years, you said, and…
Scott: Ten years next month.
Nathan: Yeah, 10 years next month. So can you tell us about how far ahead you’ve got with that vision and some of the, you know, we can refer to some numbers around the impact you’ve made.
Scott: Sure. So about a million people have contributed to Charity: Water, giving over $215 million and we have been able to provide clean and safe drinking water to 6.3 million people in 20,000 communities around the world across 24 countries. So we’re about at 1% of the global problem because the other good news is that, and not just Charity: Water, but a lot of other people have been talking about water. The awareness has been massively raised and the problem now is down from over a billion to 663 million people without water.
Nathan: Yeah, wow. I see. So how did you get this company started in 2006?
Scott: Well, there was no money, as I mentioned at the time, and I was running around showing people pictures on my laptop of people drinking dirty water and saying I wanted to do something about it. And I thought that with the reinvention of charity piece, the only way to get people really excited about getting the people that didn’t trust who were the people I was after, was to create a different business model. And I thought, “What if we could find a way to give 100% of every dollar we would ever raise from the public anywhere in the world and give that money directly to build water projects?” And people said, “Well, you’re crazy. How would you pay for your overhead? How would you have an office? How would you ever employ staff?” And I said, “I don’t know how this is gonna work but I believe that this is important, absolutely pure charity.”
So I opened up two bank accounts with $100 each and made a promise that we would never touch the public’s money. We would never touch any public donation for anything except to directly fund a water project. And then the other bank account, separately, I would try to find a way to make overhead cool. I would try to find a small group of people who would actually get excited about funding the behind-the-scenes work, the staff salaries, the office, the flights. That was the idea number one, a 100% model.
Number two was using the technology available at the time to connect donors to the impact their dollars were having. And when I started out, we were starting the same year as Google Earth and I realized that Google was giving us this free place to put all of our water projects so we could be transparent. We could show people the impact their dollars were having in countries around the world.
The third thing I wanted to do, I wanted to build a beautiful brand. As I looked at the charitable sector, I didn’t see anything that inspired me like Apple or Nike or Virgin. I saw anemic charitable brands. And I’d come across a quote in the “New York Times” that said, “Toothpaste is built with far more sophistication than all of the world’s life-saving causes.” Then I thought, “This is so true and it’s so sad and it’s so broken.” A junk food company could spend hundreds of millions of dollars marketing stuff that kills us, and yet, the most important life-saving work, the most important causes in the world have these anemic brands, were often not great at telling their stories.
And I think maybe the most important thing about the business model, I guess would be the fourth thing, which is what we wouldn’t do. We wouldn’t send Westerners over to Africa or India or Asia to drill wells or build rainwater systems or filters. We would bring up the capacity. We would develop the capacity of our local partners. I believe for work to be sustainable, it must be driven and led by local organizations, indigenous to that country.
So in Charity: Water, we try to restore the faith of the public in charity. We would raise money transparently, using 100%, we would connect donors, we would build a beautiful brand, but the actual work would be led by the locals in each of these countries. And that was the business model. And day one, I threw a party in a nightclub, trying to redeem my past. I got 700 people to come out on my 31st birthday, and I charged them all $20 at the door to come in. And this time, instead of putting $15,000 in my back pocket, 100% of the money went to do Charity: Water’s first few projects in northern Uganda.
And then after the projects were built, we immediately sent the photos, the GPS, and a video of clean water flowing back to the 700 people that attended the party. And people could not believe that a charity had bothered to tell them where $20 went.
Nathan: Yeah, wow. That’s incredible. So what happened next? How did you start to build this thing and raise awareness?
Scott: Well, we were scrappy in the beginning. We actually sold a $20 bottle of water. At the time, it costs us about $20 to give someone access to clean water. And I thought, “You know, bottled water is a dollar and people don’t need to think about buying it.” They don’t even need to buy bottled water and yet, they do and we’re filling up landfills. So if we’re gonna be buying bottled water, we should pay $20 and every single penny should go to help people without access to clean water. So that was one of the first things that we did and we got the water underwritten and tried to raise awareness. And all of our Charity: Water bottles at the time had facts about death and disease and dying and statistics about the water crisis.
We did huge outdoor exhibitions. We raised awareness through getting donated media. We shot a television commercial where Jennifer Connelly, who had won an Oscar, and her kids go up to Central Park Pond in New York City and they collect dirty water and she watches as her kids drink green, contaminated water. We wound up getting donated space on television in the commercial ran to over 20 million people.
We quickly learned that bottled water was not a business we wanted to be in, even if it was $20 because we didn’t want to be polluting the environment and we didn’t wanna be depleting aquifer. So we moved away from there to simple ideas like asking people to donate their birthdays for Charity: Water. So we thought that, you know, birthdays had become a thing where they were just about stuff, stuff we didn’t need, stuff we didn’t even want. And people would have birthday parties and get ties or wallets or handbags or gift cards. And we thought, “What if we can redeem the birthday? What if we can turn it into a giving moment?” And instead of asking for gifts, instead of throwing parties, people would ask for their age in dollars. So a seven-year-old would ask for $7 from everyone they knew or a 32-year-old would ask for $32 or an 89-year-old would ask for $89.
And this idea really resonated with people and began to spread and seven-year-olds gave up their birthdays and 31-year-olds and 89-year-olds and tens of millions of dollars began being raised by the general public, by everyday people, saying, “I can actually do something about the water crisis.” I don’t need to be paralyzed by apathy. I can actually do something small. I could use my birthday to help people get clean water.
Nathan: Yeah, I see. This is an incredible idea. I’ve seen many people do this. I remember, probably around this time last year, I remember even seeing Seth Godin. He did this too. You have many…you have quite a big reach and yeah, it’s such an incredible idea.
Scott: Yeah. And it also went beyond birthdays. And so many people from the Charity: Water community have brought unique, fun ideas, and said, “Look, I love the birthday thing but my birthday is a year from now and I wanna do something right now.”
And we’ve seen people climb mountains and try to raise a dollar a foot to reach the summit. We’ve seen skydivers for Charity: Water. We have seen scrap bookers for Charity: Water. We had a guy in the South listen to seven days of Nickelback on repeat to try to raise money for Charity: Water. He raised $32,000. This year, he actually did another campaign and he watched 24 hours of Nicholas Cage movies, trapped in a cage, he called it, raised over $20,000. So, you know, people bringing the best of themselves. We grew lots of lemonade stands. We have people, actually in Australia, a huge meditation community raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, meditating and raising money and awareness for Charity: Water.
So that’s really what the organization has grown and become. It’s not about us. It is about the everyday people in our community that can bring something to the table, from the rich to the poor, to the old to the young, people across all religions, people across all levels of politics, all coming together saying, “We can stand for clean water.” If people don’t have clean water, how could they ever thrive? How could they ever be healthier? How could they ever get a good education? So it’s been a terribly unifying issue.
Nathan: Hey, guys. I just want to take a quick second to let you know about our sponsor for today’s episode, Infusionsoft. Infusionsoft provides small businesses with trusted and proven expertise, a powerful platform for sales and marketing automation, and an ecosystem of partners, apps, and integrations by combining CRM, marketing automation, e-commerce payments, and analytics all into one platform. Infusionsoft gives small businesses insight into what’s happening with customers at every stage of the life cycle. We actually use Infusionsoft at Foundr so I was super pumped to have them as a sponsor and it’s been a huge win for us and many other small businesses and startups in my network. So if you wanna learn more, you can visit Infusionsoftnow.com/foundr. Please, also remember guys, when you’re supporting our sponsors, you’re also supporting the show. All right, now, let’s jump back in.
This is incredible, the work that you’re doing, Scott, and this vision that you have. I’m really curious. You talked about, one thing you wanted to do was to build a charitable brand and I agree that you do hear a lot of bad stories like these brands, you know, they’re very, very old school. What have you done in particular to build a charitable brand that the people know, they can identify with? And I agree, you have an incredible brand.
Scott: I think for us, it’s really about storytelling. It’s building a culture that looks for stories everywhere, that celebrates stories. Especially with an issue like ours, 663 million people don’t have clean water. I mean anybody reading that just freezes. It means nothing. It almost pushes you towards paralysis. We cannot process these huge numbers. They do not inspire us to act. And yet, if I tell people about a 13-year-old girl in northern Ethiopia who is walking eight hours to get dirty water every single day and one day after her eight hour walk, before she reaches her house, she slips and falls and she spills her water and instead of going back for more water, she hangs herself from a tree then the villagers and her parents find her body swinging from a tree in the village. That’s different. That feels different.
If I tell you her name was and her best friend was Yash Ragan, if I tell you her mom story and then the story of the village, it paints a picture of the water crisis, just one of those 663 million faceless people. So I think, for us, Charity: Water has celebrated storytelling and I just told you a sad story but we really focus on stories of hope and opportunity and we look at this as an invitation. This is not about guilt and shame. We are not trying to shame people into giving. We want them to be generous. We believe that being generous unlocks more generosity, that there is a freedom that comes with wanting to serve others, with wanting to be generous, with wanting to care about your neighbors and your brothers and sisters living thousands of miles away. And we try to tell stories that are about truth and also about hope.
There was a woman that got clean water from a Charity: Water project called Helen Appio, A-P-P-I-O, in northern Uganda and as our team visited her well and asked how her life was different now that she had clean water, she told our team that for the first time in her life, she felt beautiful because she finally had enough water to wash her face and her clothes and that she had been making sacrifices with the limited water to serve her family and them first. So I think that is…we’ve made 400 videos. We’ve told thousands of stories over the decade and it’s core and key to who we are.
Nathan: Yeah. I see. I have to switch gears because I think our audience wouldn’t be happy if I didn’t ask you this question because we get asked this question a lot and someone with your level of expertise I think can really help is a lot of people in our audience, they wanna start a business and some of these businesses would be a social enterprise or a business which is for purpose that is purely built to I guess…like where can people start? What actual stuff do you have for people that want to build a charity or a social enterprise?
Scott: I think I really do start with, is someone else doing it? Can you raise money for them? Can you go and support that organization? You know, no one else was doing the 100% model when I was…when I started, especially not in the humanitarian space that I’d found. So I thought I could uniquely…I thought I could bring a unique and fresh perspective to the space but I would really start there. If you care about hearing or if you care about eyesight, is there someone else that you can go and raise money and awareness for? Have they already built an organization? You know, maybe you don’t need to start over. If you are starting your own thing, what’s the problem you’re trying to solve and what does the end state look like? Our end state is very clear. It is a day on Earth when not a single human being has to drink nasty, disgusting, dirty water, and we’re now 663 million people away from that and making a lot of progress.
And then I think just get ready for all hell to break loose. It’s one of the most difficult things, the ups and downs. You’ll spend more time I think frustrated and I mean it’s an incredibly difficult emotional journey. It requires unbelievable tenacity, I think. I make it sound great by telling you all the people that we’ve helped, but there have been unbelievable challenges. I’ve been to Ethiopia 27 different times in coach. There’s a great level of sacrifice that often comes with starting a mission-driven organization or an organization that is focused on others.
Nathan: Can you tell us about some of those sacrifices? I know you said you sold all your stuff.
Scott: Yeah. I’ve definitely had people try to hire me away and I think myself and every single other person here at Charity: Water could be making a multiple on what they’re making. So there’s definitely…when you step into the social good of the nonprofit sector, your earning is absolutely capped. There’s no stock options at Charity: Water. There’s no equity. We’ve raised $207 million but we transfer our equity to the poorest people in the world and that is…that really has to be the focus. You have to realize that you are making yourself rich not by making yourself rich but by making other people rich. And I think just the travel, there was a year I was on 96 airplanes. So what’s that, a flight every three and a half days. That sounds really glamorous. It’s not when you’re stuck at a layover in the Kolkata Airport.
Nathan: Have you ever felt like giving up?
Scott: Sure. Sure. It’s difficult. One of the challenges with an organization like ours is no one needs to care. You do not need our product. If our product is generosity, if our product is helping the poorest people on Earth get access to life’s most basic need, you don’t need our product. You do not need to wake up and help a woman who might be struggling to collect dirty water. So we need to constantly innovate. We need to continually inspire people, continually encourage them to be generous and invite them into the mission. And we start over at zero every year. Whatever we might raise, however many people we inspire in 2016, 2017, we’re back at it again and we have to go and do the same and then we have to grow and get more people in the mission. It’s incredibly challenging sometimes.
Nathan: No, I can totally…I wouldn’t even know where to begin. I feel guilty even speaking to you, to be honest, Scott, because it’s so easy to forget the things that are going on. You can get so caught up in your day to day that, you know, this conversation we’ve had right now, these numbers that you’re throwing at me, these things that are happening in the world, sometimes, this isn’t even remotely on my radar, and I can imagine this would be the case for many other people in the Western world. So I can understand how difficult it can be sometimes to get people to buy in and get people to want to help.
Nathan: Well, look, we have to work towards wrapping up. I’m incredibly inspired by your mission and everything that you’re doing. So the last question I have is, well, two pieces. The first one is was there any parting words that you’d like to finish off to our audience?
Nathan: Then lastly, the next best place people can find you or get behind your cause.
Scott: Yeah. I would just say people could learn more about this issue. Just go to charitywater.org, look at some of the videos, and learn about this issue. It is an important issue facing us today. The water crisis is real and it is an extraordinary way to make an impact with very little money on the lives of people and to eliminate this needless suffering. There is actually a way that people can help. We’re launching in a couple of weeks, a brand-new giving program called The Spring. And it’s really trying to look for people, 10,000 people to start, who are willing to give $30 a month to help one person get clean water every single month. It’s five or six coffees at a Starbucks or similar and we’ve had a million people give once. We thought, “What if we could go find a million people, and not to give once, who would stick with us, month in-month out, year in-year out, until this problem is solved.” So we’re launching an exciting new product that’d be a great donor experience. People will get connected to the impact that their dollars have and people can go and check that out online.
Nathan: Yeah, fantastic. I’m definitely going to sign up.
Scott: Awesome, man. I appreciate it.
Nathan: Thank you. Welcome.
Scott: I think actually if you sign up this month, your first month is March. So you’d trigger another 30 bucks.
Nathan: Awesome. I definitely will be donating my birthday this year as well. I said I’d do it last year but I don’t know. Look, I’m guilty. Like I said, it’s so easy to get caught up in your day-to-day and these things just, you know, sometimes, it’s easy to forget.
Scott: Yeah. Well, the average person that donates their birthday raises $1000. So just think about that impact that you could have.
Nathan: Yeah. No, it’s incredible. Well, look, Scott, we will wrap there but thank you so much for your time and the work that you do in the world that’s incredibly inspiring. And yeah, we’ll wrap there but thank you so much for your time.
Scott: Awesome. Hey, thanks so much for having me.
Key Resources From Our Interview With Scott Harrison
- Follow Scott Harrison on Twitter
- Follow Scott Harrison on Instagram
- Connect with Scott Harrison on Linkedin
- Learn more about charity:water