As presenter Paull Young mentioned during his opening remarks, it seemed only fitting yesterday to discuss Charity:Water on a day when heavy rains soaked the NYC area. Despite the harsh weather and the scheduling of the event in mid-July, a capacity crowd attended our monthly 501 Tech NYC meeting held at the NYC Foundation Center.
Even though the organization has only existed for six years, Charity:Water has had amazing results in fundraising, and consistently raises the bar in how nonprofits should communicate with supporters. How do they do so well?
- blending traditional fundraising and communications functions, which many nonprofits struggle with. Their focus isn’t only on raising money, it’s on maintaining an ongoing dialogue with constituents to demonstrate the impact of their donations
- consistently strong videos and photography to show their work
- an open, collaborative culture, similar to what Beth Kanter describes in the Networked Nonprofit
- focus on positive messages, not doom and gloom about the difficulties that many people around the world have in obtaining clean water
- ability to learn from mistakes – as Paul said, we ‘do it wrong quickly’
- website focuses on story telling, not only on getting donations (although the money comes in anyway)
These are great ideas to take back to your organization. As demonstrated by Paull’s enthusiasm, Charity:Water also thrives by hiring a great staff who are truly engaged in their cause, and who thrive in a flat, team-oriented culture. We can all learn from their success. (See also my post from last year when Paull spoke at Fundraising Day in NYC.)