Scott Harrison: Thirsting for a Life of Service [Entire Talk] | Summary and Q&A

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November 13, 2013
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Stanford eCorner
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Scott Harrison: Thirsting for a Life of Service [Entire Talk]

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Summary

This video is about the speaker's journey from being a nightclub promoter to founding the charity organization, charity:water. He shares his personal story and experiences in Africa, highlighting the water crisis and the impact of dirty water on communities. He explains how charity:water aims to solve this problem by providing clean water solutions and creating a transparent and trustworthy model for fundraising and donations.

Questions & Answers

Q: How did the speaker's upbringing and lifestyle influence his perspective on charity and the water crisis?

The speaker grew up in a middle-class family in Philadelphia and had a privileged lifestyle as a nightclub promoter in New York City. However, after realizing his own unhappiness and selfishness, he wanted to make a difference and sought to serve the poor for a year. This experience opened his eyes to the water crisis and the struggles that communities face due to lack of access to clean water.

Q: What inspired the speaker to start charity:water?

The speaker was deeply moved by the people he met and the stories he heard during his time in Africa. He realized that the water crisis was a solvable problem and wanted to create a world where no one had to drink dirty water. He believed that through transparency, technology, and a focus on local partnerships, he could make a significant impact in addressing the water crisis.

Q: How does charity:water ensure transparency and accountability?

One of the main principles of charity:water is to ensure that 100% of public donations go directly to water projects. They have separate bank accounts for public donations and cover administrative costs through other means such as private donors and sponsors. They also use technology, such as GPS units and Google Earth, to track and share the progress of water projects, making the information accessible to the public. Additionally, they provide reports to donors, showing them exactly where their money went and the impact it made.

Q: What are some of the challenges faced by communities without access to clean water?

Communities without access to clean water face numerous challenges. They often rely on contaminated sources which can lead to waterborne diseases such as cholera and parasites. Lack of clean water affects not only their health but also their education, as children may miss school to fetch water or experience difficulties during menstruation. It also impacts women's livelihoods, as they spend hours each day collecting water instead of engaging in income-generating activities.

Q: How does charity:water determine the appropriate water solutions for each community?

Charity:water works with local partners who have expertise in water solutions. They assess each community's specific needs and resources, such as groundwater availability or the suitability of drilling wells. Solutions can vary from hand-dug wells to drilling deep wells, protecting mountain springs, or implementing filtration systems. The aim is to provide the most effective and sustainable solutions based on the local context.

Q: How does charity:water engage supporters and encourage fundraising?

Charity:water has implemented various initiatives to engage supporters and encourage fundraising. They have created campaigns like "Birthdays for Clean Water," where individuals give up their birthdays to raise funds. They have also partnered with brands and celebrities to raise awareness and funds. Additionally, they utilize social media platforms to share stories, provide updates, and recognize the efforts of fundraisers.

Q: How does clean water impact communities beyond health improvement?

Clean water has multifaceted impacts on communities beyond health improvement. It can lead to time savings, as individuals no longer have to spend hours collecting water. This extra time can be utilized for education, livelihoods, or family time. Access to clean water has been shown to contribute to economic development and increased income, as individuals can engage in productive activities rather than being burdened by water-related issues. Additionally, the empowerment of women and girls is often observed, as they can focus on education and personal growth instead of water-fetching responsibilities.

Q: How does charity:water ensure the sustainability of their water projects?

Sustainability is a key consideration for charity:water. They work closely with local partners and communities to ensure that projects are community-driven and locally supported. This includes setting up water committees within communities to take ownership of the projects and provide ongoing maintenance and management. Communities also contribute financially, either through small daily fees or participation in the construction process, ensuring a sense of ownership and long-term sustainability.

Q: How has charity:water utilized technology to enhance their work?

Charity:water has embraced technology to enhance their work in various ways. They use GPS units to track and share the progress of water projects, enabling transparency and accountability. They make use of Google Earth and Google Maps to provide public access to project data and locations. They were early adopters of social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram, utilizing them to share stories, engage with supporters, and raise awareness. They have also utilized technology for fundraising campaigns, such as the "Birthdays for Clean Water" initiative.

Q: How has charity:water utilized creativity and partnerships to raise funds and awareness?

Charity:water has utilized creativity and partnerships to raise funds and awareness in innovative ways. They have partnered with brands like Saks Fifth Avenue and The Macallan to create unique collaborations that engage their customers and raise funds for clean water projects. They have also encouraged supporters to think creatively about fundraising, such as through skydiving, climbing mountains, or giving up wedding gifts. These efforts have attracted attention from celebrities, influencers, and the general public, helping to spread their message and grow their movement.

Q: What is the speaker's vision for charity:water and the future of addressing the water crisis?

The speaker's vision for charity:water is to continue growing and scaling their impact in addressing the water crisis. He aims to create a world where no one has to drink dirty water and where clean water is accessible to all. He believes in the power of collective action and hopes to inspire more individuals and organizations to join the movement and contribute towards ending the water crisis.

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