Seven years ago, Scott Harrison held a birthday party. It was his thirty first, a year that is recognized in his profession as a nightclub promoter as the peak year that you get to “call in all your favors”. Instead of going crazy with a lavish party or asking for presents, he asked for a donation. The donations he collected that night helped to launch charity:water, which has grown to a network of over 400,000 donors and projects in twenty countries.
After a crisis of conscious at the age of 28, Scott Harrison decided to find his faith and spirit in serving others. He spent two years traveling and volunteering in Africa. In Benin and Liberia, Harrison witnessed people using water “so dirty you wouldn’t want your dog to drink,” and became very angry and frustrated by the lack of clean water in poor countries. Almost 80% of diseases encountered in countries without access are attributable to unclean water.
The success of charity:water comes from a modern, engaging web design and online campaign. Asking something simple of people such as giving up their birthday to raise money for the charity has also been helpful. There have even been celebrity birthday pledgers, like NFL star Matt Hasselbeck, pop icons Depeche Mode, and TOM’s Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie. The charity also has a strong focus on transparency, with dollar and project tracking updates available on their website.
Scott Harrison says that story is the number one aspect for new entrepreneurs and nonprofit founders to push for. Sharing drive, values and ideas is a great way to connect with an audience. He also says that tenacity and finding a coach are integral to success. Scott also often attributes his faith as a source of inspiration and motivation.