A Networked Fundraiser: charity:water Waterforward | Beth's Blog

A Networked Fundraiser: charity:water Waterforward


How WaterForward works. from charity: water on Vimeo.

charity:water continues to break new ground and be an innovator in the online fundraising space.    Its newest online fundraiser,  Waterforward, is based on a simple question:  What if the billion social media users in the world collectively chipped in a few dollars and helped solve the “wicked” problem for the billion people around the world who don’t have clean water?

I first heard about this unique fundraiser when I interviewed charity:water’s Paull Young.

Here’s how it works.

The site is an online book of the faces of people who are helping to bring clean water to those who don’t have it.    You can’t add yourself to the book, but when you donate $10, you can purchase a place in the book for a friend, family member, or colleague.    That person receives a notice on Facebook or Twitter that you’ve “bought them” into the book and asks them to pay it forward.    The friends I bought into the book are on page 42 and page 43.  On your account page on WaterForward, you can see if your friends paid it forward and the networked impact of your donation.

WaterForward was the brainchild of Michael Birch, one of charity:water’s  supporters and formerly the founder of Bebo. He runs a lab now called Monkey Inferno did the tech work, charity:water did the design.  I really like the game mechanics and the pay it forward idea.  Instead of asking your friends to donate to your cause, it turns that on its head.  Instead, you honor your friends and ask them to pay it forward -which should bring new donors to the organization.


You also get see what your total impact was. You can also view the whole value chain leading up to your photo getting into the book.    Back in October,   Dan Martell bought me into the book and I’m on page 5!    Dan Martell was bought into the book by Michael Birch is on page 1.

At the time of this writing, there were 21,023 people in the book and total amount raised $210,230.     And, while for charity:water that is a relatively smaller dollar amount compared to other campaigns,  this particular campaign is probably doing a great job of pulling in new donors.   (I’ll be following up with Paull about that in a few months)  So, for metrics of success – we have the dollars, but we also have the life time value of a new donor.

And, since we’re in the middle of giving season, this announcement from the Google blog crossed my radar about their year-end gifts to nonprofits.   There’s a category of organizations “Empowerment Through Technology” and wanted to give a big shoutout to my friends at DoSomething.Org for getting a grant!

10 Responses

  1. Bobbie Garner says:

    I like the idea. It’s definitely worth sharing. The only thing I don’t like is that they post “has not paid it forward” with a frowny face. Feels like a forced donation ploy on that bit. Otherwise I like it.

  2. Beth says:

    Bobbie: What you’re seeing – is what people see in their dashboard – it isn’t public. That’s why I didn’t include the names. The “Nudge” button lets you remind people, although I personally would not use it.

  3. shantel says:

    Love this idea. Especially for folks (donors) that are getting involved they can see the impact they are making… what a great was to build trust with donors. I also love the video showcasing the key selling points and how it works. Thanks for this post. You rock Beth! -Shantel

  4. Bobbie Garner says:

    Thanks for clarifying Beth. In that case I really do like it!

  5. This is great, a really good way of using social media to make people feel valued.

  6. I love this, and think Charity Water is consistently brilliant. In fact, I recently highlighted how great they are at inspiring us with their mission http://clairification.blogspot.com/2011/12/its-wonderful-life-how-to-present-our.html. This initiative is what we’ve come to expect from them, and it just draws us closer and closer towards them. There’s a lot to learn here. Thanks so much for highlighting.

  7. […] progetto funziona, e ce lo spiega benissimo Beth Kanter, che tu doni $10 dollari ed invece di metterci la tua faccia ci metti quella di un amico che viene […]

  8. […] jQuery("#errors*").hide(); window.location= data.themeInternalUrl; } }); } http://www.bethkanter.org – December 16, 7:07 […]

  9. chrys de blogue says:

    hello/tx from africa. have u search towards evaporating sea water trhough chimney so to condense it back higher ? it could travel from station to station and even get in heights ? solar parabols boiling water would do the job for people and irrigation 2, i think