Water changes everything. That’s why charity: water is mission driven to provide clean, potable water to the developing world. Online, the organization grabs visitors’ attention with colorful multimedia and multiple ways to get involved. Drawing donors like water from wells comes naturally to charity: water. Contributors can easily discover through the website how much good has been done through the last quarter (6,611 projects funded supplying water to 2,500,000 people in 20 countries) and each donation is tracked to a specific initiative through “Dollars to Projects,” which is uniquely possible because 100% of all public contributions go directly into project costs.
In the More Money for More Good nonprofit guidebook, we talk about the three C’s of Collect, Communicate, and Connect. This is the second of a three-part series where we talk to different nonprofits that have put these ideas into practice. Joining us is Paull Young, the director of digital engagement for charity: water, to talk about how he communicates information on impact, and how that engages current and potential donors.
Paull, thank you for joining us.
In our guidebook, More Money for More Good, we talk about the importance of communicating your impact to donors simply. I know that it is critical to charity: water to communicate what you do so that donors see their impact, and I want to talk to you about this.For starters, can you give us a sense for what you are trying to achieve when creating a fundraising campaign, or otherwise reaching out to your donors?
Our communications and our fundraising are tightly linked. When we reach out to donors we are trying to inspire them. We try to create great, creative content that will inspire donors, and lead them to spread the word. Our goal is not just to get them to donate, but to become true supporters. We want people to tell their friends – to get our donors to become our fundraisers.
What do you communicate to achieve that?
Fundamentally, we think that helping people see their impact is the most important thing we do at charity: water.
We know that understanding their impact is what donors are looking for. We hear it from them, and we see it in the research, like Money for Good. Donors care about the good work that we are doing, and the impact that their donations are having on the people around the world that are struggling because they do not have access to clean water.
How do you do that?
We try to give people the full picture. We provide information on the countries we are working in, and the effect that a lack of clean water is having on the people and communities. We provide information on the strategy we are going to use to create clean water, and why that approach is best suited to the particular need. We provide information on our partners, who are critical to the success of any project.
We also communicate data on the impact we are having. For instance, we talk not just about the money we raise, but the number of water projects we have completed, and the number of people those projects reach. To date, since we posted our quarterly update online, we have now served more than 2.5 million people, but there are 800 million more that still do not have access to clean, safe drinking water.
Finally, we communicate this in what we believe to be a simple, graphical, and engaging format. We want our information – be it a video or a sheet describing a project – to be so compelling that people want to proactively share it with their friends.
How does Dollars to Projects fit into this?
Dollars to Projects is a reporting tool that shows the impact of each dollar we receive. It is a key way we can help people see their impact.
Through Dollars to Projects we tie every dollar to a specific project in the field. Donors know where their money is going, how we are going to solve the issue in that community, and what their money is ultimately used to do. When projects are complete we collect data, photos, and even GPS coordinates, and report those back to the donors. An example of a project report is below. Dollars to Projects has been a very successful way for us to help donors see their impact.
What is coming up?
We are about to launch a new campaign for the holiday season. We want to raise $1 million to build 100 wells in Ethiopia. We are creating a new landing page with a new video, and hope that will spur others to take action. It’s a campaign that brings all of this together: creativity, effective communication, and ultimately a story about the impact a donor can have. Visit http://mycharitywater.org/holidays to learn more.
Thank you, Paull. This is terrific. Any closing thoughts and advice for others?
First, know how you are doing. Collect the information you need to understand the impact you are achieving.
Second, get that information to your donors. Communicate it to them so they get it. We constantly look at new ways of doing this, from showing a project on a map, to talking about the beneficiaries, to creating compelling videos.
Finally, keep the relationship going after a donor comes in the door. Build the connection. Get your donors to become your fundraisers.