March 4, 2013 Back to All Blogs

Getting Personal. It Pays.

Charity:water continues to show its prowess in fundraising that communicates impact … with impact. The organization works to provide clean and safe drinking water in the developing world. Its “100 percent model” promises that every dollar donated goes directly to the field to fund water projects.

Less than two months after making a donation (and at a time when many of us begin to file taxes), our family received the following e-mail letting us know how our money is being spent.



The message continued, providing even more context for understanding what our donation funded and why it is so important.

Ethiopia is one of most populous countries in Africa — more than 84 million people live there. It’s also one of the poorest. About 56% of the population doesn’t have access to clean water, and that percentage is even higher in the rural areas where we work.Thanks to you, our local partner, A Glimmer of Hope, and their implementing partner, The Relief Society of Tigray, are busy working on a total of 112 new and rehabilitated hand-dug wells, 82 new and rehabilitated drilled wells and 25 new and rehabilitated spring protections.

Your money is also helping to expand our partner’s capacity to build projects quickly and efficiently, funding six new vehicles, one tractor and six measurement tools used in the drilling process. Learn more about our work in Ethiopia with A Glimmer of Hope here »




This program places a strong emphasis on community and local government involvement. While construction is underway, field staff are educating communities on safe hygiene practices and helping form Water Committees to oversee the projects long after we’re gone. Then, field staff will collect GPS coordinates, photos and other details for each water point. They’ll send that data to us and we’ll publish it on Google Maps here »

Even though charity:water has well over 300,000 supporters, they have not lost sight of the critical  importance of saying thank you in a personal way to continue to build their network of supporters. We knew it was a worthy cause when we made the donation, but this added context not only clinched future donations, it made us smarter about the cause.

This personal touch for donors big and small is not only informative, it’s infectious. The personalized charity:water birthday videos have even greater “pass along” propellant. You can’t not tell a friend. Charity:water has mastered the art and science of building a grassroots movement for clean water based on the power of word of mouth.

Other organizations interested in effectively connecting to donors, members, and other advocacy target audiences can follow charity:water’s example. With some pretty simple technology tools, personalized connections like these are more doable than many people think.

Panthink’s January 14thEngage or Die” post discussed ways to engage supporters, customize the information they receive and continuously deliver greater value. Instead of the old push method to renew memberships, attend conferences and buy reports, associations have the ability to use new technology tools to customize communication and service based on what each member or prospective member cares about. These insights pay off big in the form of engaged, satisfied supporters and a more nimble, in-the-know organization.