Rethinking the charity model: The story of charity: water

Rethinking the charity model: The story of charity: water

Written by Lauren Howells on Wed 26 Oct 2016

10 years ago charity: water entered the non-profit sector with a vision to re-invent charity. Angharad McKenzie, Head of Key Relationships for charity: water told their story at the Together We're Better Conference 2016.

At ten years’ old, charity: water has raised $210 million, has 1 million supporters around the world and is now a registered charity in the UK. 

“We are a very simple organisation and model,” said Angharad. “We don’t have an advocacy team, we don’t get involved in policy debates. Our only proposition is that you can fund water projects through us.”

The most significant way that charity: water has ‘reinvented charity’ is its commitment to transparency. 

“We raise the money and then tell the stories on the ground of those who are delivering, and benefitting, from the projects,” continued Angharad. “Technology and innovation is a means to an end for us, which is to bring our community as close to the projects they’re supporting as possible”

An example of this is the GPS system that’s been fitted to a drill that has its own twitter account, documenting every place it goes and well it drills. 

When the charity was established the vision was to reinvent charity and ensure that ‘100% of donations go to water projects.’

“The Well” is a pool of investors who put money into a central fund to pay for the administration side of the charity. This means that every public donation can go straight to water projects. 

“Every single project that we deliver is mapped out for us at the beginning of the year, which means that we can show our community very clearly where their money is going.”

Technology helps the charity show impact and build trust with their community. They have used video from the beginning to bridge the gap between beneficiaries and supporters and use videos, images, stories and GPS trackers to follow their drills to report in real time.

“We celebrate our supporters and champion even the smallest of donations, because every penny matters.”