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Scott Harrison spent 10 years living a very selfish life as a nightclub promoter in New York City. He was spiritually and morally bankrupt.
So he decided to make a change.
At 28, he sold all his belongings and volunteered on a humanitarian mission in post-war Liberia, West Africa. What he saw was shocking…
Kids drinking from swamps and rivers and so many people suffering because they didn’t have clean water.
Returning home to New York two years later, he founded the non-profit, CharityWater.org. Turning his full attention to the global water crisis and the world’s 800 million people without clean water, he created public installations and innovative online fundraising platforms to spread international awareness.
In nine years, with the help of more than 500,000 donors worldwide, CharityWater.org has raised over $207 million and funded over 19,000 water projects in 24 countries. When completed, those projects will provide over 6.18 million people with clean, safe drinking water.
Scott was recently recognized in Fortune Magazine’s 40 under 40 list, the Forbes Magazine Impact 30 list and was recently #10 in Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business issue. He is currently a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. Scott lives in New York City with his wife Viktoria and son Jackson.
Learn more about the water shortage crisis in this compelling interview with Scott Harrison…
What is the current water shortage?
663 Million people around the world currently don’t have clean water to drink.
Why is providing sustainable water so important?
Dirty water steals time and it kills.
Water is responsible for more death in the world than all forms of violence – including war. And 53% of all disease throughout the developing world is caused by bad water, and a lack of sanitation (toilets). Women and girls walk hours every single day, and many teenagers aren’t able to go to school, because they have to walk for water.
In fact, 40 billion hours are wasted each year in Africa alone collecting water.
What are the common lies, myths, and misconceptions about water?
I know this sounds strange, but some people think that conserving water makes a difference in the lives of those without. But while taking a shorter shower and turning off the tap while brushing is good for the environment (and your water bill), it does nothing to impact the lives of people in need continents away.
I also have people ask me sometimes if we ship bottled water to Africa. Not only would that be cost-prohibitive and inefficient, a $10,000 drilled well in a village can produce more than 2,000 liters of clean water every single day. So to match efficiency, you’d have to send 730,000 bottles of water to that same village.
What is CharityWater.org?
We’re a nonprofit working to end the water crisis in our lifetime with a belief that every person on earth should have clean and safe water to drink.
We bring clean and safe drinking water to people in need around the world, and use 100% of all donations to directly fund water projects. All projects are proved on Google Earth and Google Maps, so our supporters can see the impact of their gifts.
In 10 years, thanks to the support of more than 1 million donors, we’ve funded more than 20,000 water projects to serve 6.3M people across 24 countries.
How has storytelling helped you spread the word about the urgency and importance of providing safe water to people around the world?
People don’t respond well to mind-numbing statistics.
For example, when I tell an audience that 663 million people globally lack access to their most basic need for health and life, eyes glaze over. But when I tell a story of a woman named Aissa who lost 8 children, and show the dirty water she drinks with her family, people can connect.
We’ve made more than 400 videos at CharityWater.org, and recently have been using Virtual Reality to get people inside the story – and connect on a deeper more emotional level.
What has been the most powerful story you’ve told to get people involved?
The Last Walk for Water: “It was still dark and cool when 13-year-old Letikiros walked out the door to get water. She never came home. At 4 p.m. a man found her lifeless body swinging from a tree, a rope tied around her neck.” Read the full story here.
How can people get involved with CharityWater.org?
One can get involved in one of two simple ways:
- Every $30 can give one person clean water, and we have an amazing community around the world that give every single month to see an end to the water crisis. 100% of all donations go directly to clean water, and you can see the impact of your gifts every month. It takes less than 30 seconds to join here: charitywater.org/monthly
- You can also use your next birthday to raise money and awareness for clean water. For more information, check out charitywater.org/birthdays
What additional resources are available to help educate people on the importance of clean water?
- The Journey is one of my favorite pieces of content that we’ve produced. It’s a miniseries that takes viewers on an epic journey to Ethiopia: http://www.charitywa
- You can also learn more about the water crisis here: http://www.charitywater.
- And finally, the whole charity: water story is here: http://www.charitywater.
What is your favorite quote of all time?
“Do not be afraid of work that has no end.” – Avot de Rabbi Natan
If you could create a quote to be remembered by right now, what would you say?
“Never compromise your integrity for results.” – Scott Harrison