I was perusing Twitter the other day and came across a presentation by Paull Young (@paullyoung) who is Director of Digital Engagement at Charity:Water and was inspired by his talk.
Charity:Water are a relatively new charity which started in 2006. I’ve seen a couple of their videos before but not really heard much more about them. Within the presentation Paull explains about their marketing strategy and how they raise 75% through their digital channels and social media. They were the first charity to have 1 million followers on Twitter and now have nearly 1.4 million followers. They have 248,000 likes on their Facebook page. Compare this to WaterAid in the US which has 28,000 likes. Charity:Water were also one of the first three brands on Instgram and have over 80,000 followers. They attribute their success on Instagram to the quality of their photography. Smiling faces and clean water images share! In fact through their marketing communications their emphasis on strong design and image is evident – their annual report is stunning. The only other charity annual report I have seen that is so design-led is by Invisible Children. Is it a coincidence that two charities who are incredibly successful at social media marketing apprecaite and understand the value of good design? Charity:Water also have a very clean website with simple and effective information architecture. The photography is beautiful and portrays a powerful message.
An innovative addition to their digital comms is a microsite ‘My Charity Water’. Every single dollar that is donated by the general public goes to providing clean water for those in need and every dollar is tracked via GPS and photos so that individual donors can track the impact that they have made. One of the ways people can fundraise is to give up their birthdays and ask their friends and family to donate to Charity:Water instead. They have had over 15,000 people give up their birthdays including several celebrities such as Justin Beiber and Will and Jada Smith.
As a parent of two young girls it is the emotional story of a nine year old from Washington State called Rachel Beckwith that moved me. Rachel gave up her birthday as a nine year old so that she could help provide clean water for people in Africa. She raised $220 and vowed to raise more on her 10th birthday. Rachel was tragically killed in a car accident before her 10th birthday. As a memorial her parents asked people to donate to her campaign and literally thousands did, raising $1.2 million.
Charity:Water truly understand the power of digital and social media. I look forward to seeing future innovations.