This week we focus on the Millennium Development Goal #7, Target 7c: To reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.
The UN states that 1.5 million children under five die each year from water and sanitation-related diseases. To address this, they declared that clean water is a fundamental human right in July. According to Scott Harrison, founder and President of charity: water, “unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of diseases and kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.” Considering the associated reduction in employee welfare and labor productivity, this social issue IS a business issue. For each $1 invested, the WHO estimates returns of $3-$34. The following examples show how corporations, nonprofits and multilateral organizations are collaborating, engaging the public and developing innovative solutions to solve the clean water problem.
|Your Birthday Can Save the World through charity: water|
While many nonprofits providing safe drinking water exist, here are a few reasons why charity: water stands out.
1) 100% of the money raised directly funds freshwater projects. Similar to the Robin Hood Foundation’s business model, charity: water’s overhead is covered by wealthy donors and sponsors.
2) Proving it with Google Maps and media. Charity: water enables donors to locate the wells using GPS coordinates, and to view the people they help through photos and video. They also provide a clear tally of their total impact on their website.
3) Personalizing the experience. In addition to bringing the human story directly to a donor’s computer through Google Maps, the organization launched mycharity: water. The site empowers people and groups to create their own personalized fundraising campaign, such as running, biking, birthdays, for the charity.
4) Brand excellence. Charity: water’s brand gained inspirational meaning through its passionate leader, and through its iconic yellow jerrycan. After layering on this foundation emotive advertising and design, hip merchandising, endorsements from celebrities like Jennifer Connelly and Hugh Jackman, and an association with partners like Google and Saks Fifth Avenue, the brand became emblematic of a new aspirational social movement.
5) Innovating to work with corporations. The nonprofit’s digital platforms, large social following (1.3 million Twitter followers), brand excellence and small agile size make it a corporate cause marketing darling.
In 2008, Saks Fifth Avenue gave the nonprofit their window space for a week, and tapped into their employees and vendors to raise a total of $700,000 for the organization. Other brands like Theory have worked with charity: water to develop their own innovative programs.
|An Multilateral Organization’s Disruptive Advertising Campaign|
A few weeks ago the CSR Twittersphere was animated over UNICEF’s shocking Dirty Water advertisement. A vending machine offered eight “flavors” of water that represent diseases affecting the global poor: malaria, cholera, typhoid, dengue, hepatitis, dysentery, salmonella, and yellow fever. A purchase of one bottle through the vending machine provided 40 days worth of potable water for a child. The event originally took place in March (see the video below), and then had an encore display in Times Square in July.
|P&G Empowers Female Bloggers to be Part of the Clean Water Solution|
In 2004, P&G partnered with several organizations to create the Children’s Safe Drinking Water program, which focuses on reducing sickness and death resulting from drinking contaminated water. P&G provides its PUR water filtration packets, advocacy, and other support for the program. To date, the company has invested more than $25 million and works with organizations such as PSI, CARE, USAID, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs, and Save the Children, among others. Through this program, P&G has delivered over 1.6 billion liters of clean drinking water.
Now, P&G is engaging another stakeholder in this global issue: female bloggers. The company partnered with Changeagents.com to create a new social media campaign called Give Health Clean Water Blogivation. For each blog post “given” by a woman, P&G will donate a day of clean water to a person in need, linking online engagement with offline community impact.