Tag Archives: nonprofit technology

Social Good Stars — @CharityWater CEO Scott Harrison

12 Jul
Amy Neumann

Writer, Speaker; Social Media Consultant

Social Good Stars — Charity: Water’s Scott Harrison

Posted: 07/11/2012 5:53 pm

This is the ninth installment of the Impact series, #SocialGoodStars. The people highlighted here are passionate, dedicated philanthropists, strengths to their communities, and social media masters. They also happily share their vast knowledge with others, making them shine as leaders in the Social Good world. You can read the eighth interview with Maggie Nielsen, partner at Global Philanthropy Group, here.

Scott Harrison is well-known worldwide as the charismatic founder and CEO of uber-impactful clean water charity, charity: water. But the story of how charity: water came to be is quite unique. It’s not often that such a colorful, inspiring, paradigm-shifting story happens. Scott’s is just that, and the global impact charity: water has had in the six years it has been around is staggeringly beautiful. I had the honor of learning more about the history and progress of one of the most productive water organizations out there through Scott.
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Click above to hear Kevin Rose’s interview of charity: water Founder Scott Harrison. Photo courtesy of charitywater.org
Raised in a loving Christian home, Scott developed a rebellious side that led him to New York City. Part of a band, he got into the club circuit, then became a popular and wildly successful club promoter for many years. Although the glamorous celebrity lifestyle was irresistible for a time, Scott had an epiphany one New Year’s Eve. “I had become the worst person I knew,” surrounded by and enmeshed in the partying crowd, with no sense of purpose. In spite of what appeared to be a jet-setting, extravagant life, “I was desperately unhappy and needed to change,” Scott says.

So in 2004 he decided to “become the exact opposite of what I was then,” and after being passed over my numerous nonprofits trying to volunteer, he paid Mercy Ships, a hospital ship which provides life-changing surgeries, to be a volunteer in Africa. Having spent his wealth at about the same or greater rate at which he raked it in, his life went from lavish to austere in a flash. As the photographer responsible for documenting the thousands of surgeries Mercy Ships did over the next two years, Scott was astonished by the poverty he saw, and realized how important the most basic things most of us take for granted really were. One day in Liberia, he saw a surgeon dig a well for a village, next to a filthy human water source unfit for animals, and turn it into clean, fresh, safe, drinkable water. At that moment, his life forever changed.

Back in NYC in 2006, Scott dived into his passion to help bring clean water to the one in nine people in the world who don’t have it now — 800 million people. His unique club promoter background inspired an original idea that is now a commonplace and hugely successful fundraising tool — donating a birthday. First he threw a party at a club, and raised $15,000. But next, he thought, “What if people skipped the cab fare, the cover charge, the drinks, and the tips, and just donated that money?” He started with $1 for every year he’d been alive, and voila, the “donate your birthday” revolution began.

And thousands of birthdays donated later (to date), millions of people have been given life-sustaining, clean drinking water. Folks like Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Alyssa Milano, Justin Beiber, and countless other celebrities have given up their birthday gifts to give. And of course, thousands of caring people around the world have too. And not just birthdays — proceeds raised with creative activities like skydiving, marathons, lemonade stands, scrapbooking, mountain climbing, you name it!

One of the most unique, and original, things charity:water is also known for is the 100% model. One hundred percent of all donations go to drilling wells. This was a novel idea, and one Scott was adamant about. “People would constantly mention how they weren’t sure if their money was going to the cause, or to other expenses,” a conundrum he wanted to prevent. All expenses come out of a separate account, so all donations flow directly to water.

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Bringing clean water and joy — charity: water. Photo courtesy of charitywater.org

Director of digital at charity: water, Paull Young, believes a few key brand values have driven much of the growth to date:

“At charity: water we are aiming to inspire a movement to solve the world water crisis. We do this by inspiring through story telling, maximizing the impact people can make by sending every cent given or raised to fund water projects, and then by helping our supporters see their impact by linking their donation to a specific water project.”

And not only does charity: water change lives in the developing world, but Paull and the team are building an experience for supporters that will do the same at home.

“We believe that people want to make a positive impact on the world, but might feel powerless to do so. We hope we can provide that opportunity, and once they see their impact believe that they’ll be transformed personally, just as they change lives in the developing world.”

Another groundbreaking idea was leveraging technology to further illustrate just how life-saving an impact every dollar makes. Before it was a more commonplace service, Scott started tagging wells drilled via GPS, and showing photos and videos of the sites and the happy people they serve. The impact this has is monumental — the story tells itself, through the smiles, joy, and laughter of kids and adults, even in some of the most remote places on earth. With the ability to tangibly not only see the wells, but the phenomenal effect they have on entire communities, donors feel the concrete impact they make in a very visceral sense. And by using social media to spread the message, millions of people get to see those results every day.

“A person dies every 15 seconds from water-borne diseases. That’s an enormous problem. But we are having a positive impact on a large scale,” notes Scott. Recently charity: water raised enough money to purchase two drilling rigs, which exponentially increased drilling ability.

Scott and the charity: water team, along with donors and volunteers all around the world, are indeed having a positive impact. To learn more about how Water Changes Everything, watch this video. To donate to charity: water, click here. You can also follow @charitywater on Twitter, and Like them on Facebook for more.

Amy Neumann is a social entrepreneur, writer, speaker and consultant on social good marketing. Check out her Charity Ideas Blog and follow her on Twitter @CharityIdeas.

Follow Amy Neumann on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CharityIdeas

Social Good Stars – Beth Kanter (@kanter)

19 Nov

This post originally appears in the Huffington Post in my new series for Impact, “Social Good Stars.”  Thank you to the amazing Beth Kanter!

Writer, speaker and social media consultant for nonprofits and businesses
Follow Amy Neumann on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CharityIdeas

Social Good Stars: Beth Kanter

Posted: 11/18/11 12:43 PM ET

This is the first in a new Impact series, #SocialGoodStars. The people highlighted here are passionate, dedicated philanthropists, strengths to their communities, and social media masters. They also happily share their vast knowledge with others, making them shine as leaders in the Social Good world.

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it. ~Edith Wharton

Some people stand out as an example of a person who is indeed the bright candle, from whom others can help spread light. Beth Kanter, well-known in nonprofit and social media circles alike, is one of those people. She has been named by Fast Company Magazine as one of the most influential women in technology and one of Business Week’s “Voices of Innovation for Social Media.” She is the author of Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media, one of the longest running and most popular blogs for nonprofits, and the book, “The Networked Nonprofit” with Allison Fine. She is also co-founder of Zoetica Media. Most importantly, Beth spends a lot of time listening to others, curating key information, and sharing it so other people can also be Social Good Stars.

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Beth Kanter in Kenya with a winner of her book.

With 32 years in nonprofit social good, Beth is the perfect person to answer some pressing questions about current and future trends. Our interview is below.

You famously co- authored the book, “The Networked Nonprofit” with Allison Fine, and have worked with social good luminaries such as Claire Diaz-Ortiz of Twitter and Randi Zuckerberg of Facebook.  With such legendary background knowledge, can you reveal any social-media-for-social-good trends you see?

What’s top of mind at this moment is this stat:  In 2020, 40% of the world population will have grown up knowing nothing but the Internet and social networks.  Think about that. I’m a baby boomer and my first job was with the Boston Symphony in late 70’s, early 80’s.  I was in development and wanted to see examples of membership or annual fund brochures from other symphonies.  So, I wrote letters to about 20 of them, asking for a copy.  It took a month, but I then had a great collection of ideas — which was good because the annual conference when we could exchange that sort of stuff was six months away.  Now, we can learn in real time from our peers. Think how fast ideas are shared and copied from nonprofit to nonprofit.  I also watched my son last night do his homework.  He is 12.  He had to do a PowerPoint on Portugal.   He had a PowerPoint document uploaded into Google, was collaborating on it with two friends, and they were talking to each other on Skype. Our world is changing before our eyes and organizations really need to think about what this means for their work.  I think about the younger people in nonprofits — and those like free agents outside, and how important it is for nonprofit leaders to empower younger, millenials on staff and outside their walls.

Who is a personal  hero/ine in the social good space?  What makes them unique?

This is such a hard question — I have so many heroes/heroines.  But, I will name one.  Kristin Row-Finkbeiner the co-founder of Momsrising. “Where Moms and people who love them go to change our world.” They are such a fantastic example of working in this agile and transparent way and leveraging social media for on the ground social change.

 How important is “networking” to you in social media (and IRL)?  Has social media made it faster, slower, more or less relevant?

Definitely faster. I’ve always been a networker, before the tools — that is seeking people out, introducing people, and learning from the network/community.  The challenge when you add online tools is that you can connect to so many more people that you run the risk of having shallow relationships.  I have a lot of connections or friends, and I often feel that I don’t get a chance to just to chat and get to know people in a deeper way. These days I get a lot of requests for a lot of things. I find that introducing people to other people where there is a mutual need or potential for reciprocity is a good thing.

 What’s the “killer app” of social media right now?

Tools come and ago — and they change faster than humans.  Right now the killer app or type of app is content curation.  Less about the tools, more about the process.  I’m really excited about the whole concept of people whose job it is to make sense of information on the web. They used to be called journalists — but we have so much information available to us now that the sorting and making sense of it is a job in and of itself. This primer on content curation talks about why.

Do you have a favorite “social media success story” for this this year?

Yes, grist.org. They use a unique combination of entertaining content and environmental reporting, dubbed the “The Daily Show of the environmental movement.”  They have inspired a whole new generation of environmentalists who don’t take themselves so seriously while creating on-the-ground change.

What personal projects and charities do you love & support?

My main charity is the Sharing Foundation which helps kids in Cambodia.  My two kids were adopted from that country – and supporting the organizations is a way to give back.

I’m also on the board of Ushahidi , a non-profit tech company that develops free and open source software for information collection, visualization and interactive mapping. I support a number of other organizations in small ways.

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Beth Kanter

You can learn more about Beth at BethKanter.org and follow her on Twitter @kanter.

Amy Neumann is a writer, speaker and consultant on social good marketing. Check out her CharityIdeasBlog and follow her on Twitter @CharityIdeas.


Why I Love QR Codes – Amy Neumann

2 Oct

Scan Amy Neumann's QR code for more!

Simply put, I love QR Codes because they make getting key information directly into someone’s hands easier and faster.

QR Codes, short for “Quick Response”, are these funky boxes (left) that when scanned link to more information online. [ I like using @daqri because of the number and types of links you can embed behind it.  It’s in private beta, and here’s their site, where you can request an invite:  daqri.com.]

This one shown is my personal QR Code, which I have on my business cards, sites, blogs, and pretty much everywhere.  If you download the free daqri app you can see the 8 links behind it (which can include PDFs, sites, maps, video, link to call directly, and more.)

These are brilliant to use for nonprofit events, where you can add directions and maps, info like an auction catalog, a way to purchase tickets and make donations via mobile like give.mobi, links to sites, direct click-to-call, and more in one spot.  You can upload videos of prior events and post pictures and videos of the event real-time.

Here are a couple great examples of using QR Codes:

What are your thoughts on QR Codes?

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