In honor of World Water Day, we’ve partnered with charity: water, an organization dedicated to bringing clean and safe drinking water to communities around the world. Over 785 million people still lack access to one of life’s most essential needs, and we want to do everything in our power to change that statistic. Learn more about how charity:water got started, and what we can do together to help tackle the water crisis.
1. How was charity: water founded?
After a decade of indulging his darkest vices as a nightclub promoter, charity: water founder Scott Harrision declared spiritual, moral, and emotional bankruptcy. He spent two years on a hospital ship off the coast of Liberia, saw the effects of dirty water firsthand, and came back to New York City on a mission. Scott turned his full attention to the global water crisis and the (then) 1.1 billion people living without access to clean water. In 2006, he established a small core team in a tiny Manhattan apartment and created charity: water. Over the past 14 years, we’ve raised $496 million and provided clean water for more than 11.6 million people. But with 785 million people still lacking access to life’s most basic need, there’s a long way to go—and we’re just getting started.
2. What type of water projects are funded through charity: water?
We work with experienced local partners to build and implement clean water projects for communities, schools, and health clinics. Bringing people clean water looks different in every area, and we employ a diverse range of solutions—drilled wells, piped systems, rainwater catchments, BioSand filters, and more—to meet the needs of each community we serve. To determine the right water technology for a given area, our partners consider physical factors (such as terrain and water sources), as well as cultural ones (like a community’s comfort level with the technology design). You can learn more about our solutions here.
3. What diseases are associated with unsanitary drinking water?
Diseases associated with dirty water include dysentery, cholera, and typhoid. Around 297,000 children under the age of five die every year from diarrheal diseases caused by inadequate water and sanitation. Access to clean water and basic sanitation can save around 16,000 lives every week.
4. What makes charity: water unique?
When charity: water began, we made a bold promise: 100% of public donations would directly fund clean water projects. We’d even pay back credit card fees, meaning if a donor gave $100 with a credit card and we got only $97, we’d make up the $3 and send the full $100 to provide clean water for people in need. Because we treat the Water and Operations sides of our business differently—separate purposes, separate fundraising goals, and separate bank accounts—we can guarantee that every public dollar donated helps bring clean water to people in need.
5. What goals do you have for 2021 and beyond?
We started 2020 feeling optimistic about the future of our work and impact, but like the rest of the world, COVID-19 turned everything upside down. However, even in the midst of a global pandemic, we saw the very best of humanity in our incredibly generous supporter community. We’ve set some lofty goals for 2021—most importantly: funding clean water for an additional 1.7 million people around the world.
6. What are some ways that others can get involved?
We have an incredible network of more than one million supporters worldwide who make our work possible! There are many ways people can get involved, and some of the most impactful include joining our monthly giving program, The Spring, and fundraising through our online platform, mycharity: water. The Spring is a community of passionate and generous monthly supporters who are committed to seeing a day when everyone on the planet has clean water. mycharity: water is an online fundraising platform where anyone can start a campaign to raise money for clean water projects—from the 4-year-old who sold her paintings, to the college students who biked cross-country, to the 89-year-old grandmother who gave up her birthday in exchange for donations for clean water.
7. How many countries are you currently serving and where are you looking to expand to?
We are currently working in 21 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Eight out of ten people without access to improved water sources live in rural areas. From the start, that’s where we’ve focused our efforts. We work with carefully-chosen local partner organizations to bring clean water to remote areas with the greatest needs and most vulnerable populations. We choose the countries where we work based on water scarcity, poverty, political stability, and the availability of strong local organizations we can partner with to create sustainable change.
8. How long will it take to tackle the water crisis?
We believe that we can end the water crisis in our lifetime! The water crisis is huge—but it’s solvable. We know how to bring clean water to every person on the planet. All we need are the resources to do it.
9. What’s one project or initiative you’re especially proud of?
We recently shared an article in honor of International Women’s Day about the connection between women and water. Women often carry the responsibility of water collection, a job that costs time, safety, opportunity, and so much more. We wanted to unpack why the water crisis is a women’s issue—and how we can solve it together. You can read the full article here!
10. What resources do you recommend for people looking to be educated on the importance of clean drinking water?
Take a look through our website to learn more about the importance of clean and safe drinking water. You can also watch our short film to hear more about how we got started, and the incredible impact our community of supporters has had so far. We’d also love for you to follow us on Instagram and Facebook, where you’ll hear stories of how gaining access to life’s most basic need has changed the lives of people around the world.
Support our charity: water fundraiser
All month long you can visit our ONEHOPE Foundation Fundraiser where 10% of every purchase goes directly to charity:water. Additionally, if you’re looking for a way to raise money for this incredible cause all year long, host a virtual or in-person event with ONEHOPE and select a 501(c)3 nonprofit of choice where 10% of event proceeds will be donated.
The ONEHOPE Wine Team