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Tapping Stars for New Wells Tapping Stars for New Wells

Tapping Stars for New Wells

by Christopher Mims
July 19, 2009

Through lavish marketing, this non-profit makes getting water to world's poor a cause célèbre.Solving a problem charities didn't know they had is what Scott Harrison, founder of the nonprofit charity: water, does. Since 2006, he's convinced donors to support the construction of wells for clean drinking water in some of the world's poorest places through a slick website and by using his connections and media savvy to lure celebrities like Entourage's Adrian Grenier to high-profile events. Harrison, a former nightclub promoter, has managed to give sex appeal to a subject previously associated solely with images of developing-world devastation.Charity: water doesn't build wells itself. Instead, it partners with various organizations with the in-country presence required to get the job done. In other words, charity: water is the sophisticated marketing firm that aid groups didn't even know they needed. For example, many of its partners are faith-based organizations that are not typically connected to Miss Sixty, the fashion house that last September handed out tasteful, black charity: water wristbands at its New York Fashion Week show.In the Central African Republic, where $5,000 in donations can be transformed into a clean water supply for 400 people for 20 years, nobody cares (or even knows) that the money for its wells came across the transom at the Shore Club in Miami or via the sale of $20 bottles of "virtual water" on charity: water's website. As volunteer coordinator Nicky Yates put it, "People who are on a dollar a day don't have the money to build a well." Fortunately, people used to paying $350 for bottle service at a club-and the thousands of online donors to charity: water-do.Photo courtesy of charity: waterReturn to interactive site

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