Tag Archives: scott harrison

New: Google’s Global Impact Awards, $23 Million for Nonprofit Innovation!

5 Dec

This article originally appears in The Huffington Post.

Amy Neumann

Writer, Speaker; Social Good, PR and Marketing Consultant

Global Impact Awards Give $23 Million to Charities to Spur Innovation, Help Girls and Minority Students

Posted: 12/04/2012 9:00 am
Nonprofits have longed for years to have access to the best technology. Often, even the best of ideas have challenges when technology is involved, whether it’s a technical or a funding issue. That’s where the newly-announced Google Global Impact Awards come in.

When you think of advancements in technology, engineering and creativity, you probably think Google. But the tech powerhouse also has a generous philanthropic side. Its new Global Impact Awards program has a mission for funding innovation that solves critical issues.

Supporting tech-driven philanthropy, Google’s Impact Awards focus on creating large, paradigm-shifting changes in social good.

Jacquelline Fuller, Director of Charitable Giving and Advocacy at Google, shared some insight on why this was an important mission for Google to tackle.

“Google looks for opportunities with explosive, innovative impact. The organizations here have an entrepreneurial spirit, embrace technology, and are in the sweet spot between technology and impact that can create massive, positive change.”

Fuller also notes that like Google, these nonprofits aren’t afraid to take informed risks, or “fail forward fast” and learn quickly from mistakes through metrics and measuring results. Following the Google model of “launch and iterate,” they will be on a constant learning and recalibrating adventure, making rapid technological strides.

The first round of $23 million in Global Impact Awards funding goes to seven nonprofits:

* charity: water
* DonorsChoose.org
* Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
* World Wildlife Fund
* Consortium for the Barcode of Life
* GiveDirectly
* Equal Opportunity Schools

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Learn more about Google’s Global Impact Awards and this year’s grantees by clicking above to go to the Google Impact Awards video. Graphic courtesy of Google for Nonprofits

Each organization is already doing outstanding work, and these awards for specific, new technology will help advance that work.

The clean-water nonprofit charity: water will leverage their $5 million Global Impact Award grant to pilot the installation of real-time water monitoring technologies at 4,000 water points across Africa by 2015. The impact of being able to monitor and measure water well performance on this scale will provide invaluable data not only to charity:water, but also to help other NGO’s and governments with their own well projects. This rapid learning and cataloging of information will allow new advances in building, operating, and maintaining more working wells.
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More than 800 million people globally do not have access to clean drinking water. However, charity:water is working to change that. Photo courtesy of charitywater.org

Scott Harrison, CEO of charity: water, explains it this way:

“We have embraced technology at charity:water since we started, with things like GPS units on every well so people can see their money in action on Google Maps. This project takes that transparency to another level. Now people can also see how much water the well they donated to is pumping, how many children, men and women in a community are now able to have clean drinking water. Information we learn from this data can be acted on to proactively create better training, maintenance, and building plans. And when people ‘check back in’ years later, they can see how their well is doing.”

DonorsChoose.org will use their $5 million Global Impact Award grant to provide public schools across the U.S. with materials to create ~500 new Advanced Placement Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses, partnering with College Board. In the U.S., girls and minority students are less likely to study math and science in college or pursue related careers than their counterparts. More exposure to these programs at public high schools that commit to AP STEM enrollments reflecting their school’s overall diversity can lead to more growth in this area.


World Wildlife Fund
‘s $5 million Global Impact Award grant will be used to help detect and deter poaching in Asia and Africa. The illegal wildlife trade, estimated to be worth $7-10 billion annually, is emptying our forests, landscapes and oceans. This grant will help implement specialized sensors and wildlife tagging technology, and ranger patrolling guided by analytical software to help nature’s front line curb this poaching.

At the forefront of promoting gender equality in children’s media and entertainment, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media will use its $1.2 million Award to support the development of automated technology that analyzes female portrayals in children’s media.
The Smithsonian Institution’s Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL) will use their $3 million Global Impact Awards grant to create and begin implementing ‘DNA barcoding’ as a cost-effective, rapid, standardized, and actionable tool for protecting the world’s most endangered wildlife. More than 35,000 of the world’s 1.8 million named species are considered to be in danger of extinction, and of these, 2,000 are protected from illegal international trade by the strictest trade regulations under a UN treaty. CBOL will build a public library of DNA barcodes that law enforcement officials can use to identify confiscated material.

With their $2.4 million Global Impact Award grant, GiveDirectly will scale up its model of direct mobile technology cash transfer to Kenyan families living in extreme poverty, and expand operations to a second country. Despite assumptions, cash transfers are a proven approach to lifting people out of poverty, with substantial positive impacts including business profits, farm profits, investment and savings, adult work hours, children’s school enrollment, children’s health, and infant birth weight. GiveDirectly’s mission is to make direct giving available to donors everywhere, and in doing so to set a new benchmark for the nonprofit sector.

Equal Opportunity Schools will use their $1.8 million Global Impact Award grant to identify 6,000 high-performing yet under-represented students in 60 high schools and move them into advanced high school classes. Every year over 600,000 low-income students in the U.S. miss out on the opportunity to be placed in advanced classes that could provide the training they need to succeed at college. EOS results show that AP pass rates increase or stay the same in more diverse classrooms. Students will be selected using data that demonstrates potential to succeed and readiness for greater challenges.

As these projects progress, nonprofits and social good fans will have an opportunity to learn from the processes the six grantees are going through in their innovative journeys.

You can learn more about the Google Global Impact Awards here. If you are part of a nonprofit, there are also many resources available through Google for Nonprofits.

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. Amy is also Director of Public Relations for POGCO, the People’s Oil and Gas Collaborative – Ohio, a grassroots organization focused on sustainability, regulatory, safety, and property rights issues in the oil and gas industry.

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

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

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