My reasoning was simple: as there are so many deserving charitable efforts out there, it's hard for me to single out the few that rise above the others.
If I promoted one, I felt I would have to promote many, and that could end up being a slippery slope for a blog of this nature. I don't like getting hit up for donations all the time, and perhaps neither do you.
Now I'm going to break with that established policy for a good reason: I've come across a charity that hits its target in so many ways: the societal impact of its goals, its straightforward and uncomplicated approach, and -- best of all -- a 100% transparent model.
The organization is charity: water -- which can be found at www.charitywater.org.
Here at EMC, we've elected to partner with them as part of our EMC Gives Back activities.
And I think we've made a very good choice.
Why Water Matters
Here in the developed world, we take access to clean drinking water for granted. Not so for 800 million people around the globe.
They spend an inordinate amount of time simply procuring water, and the water itself is often a source of disease and infection.
The lack of clean water disproportionately affects women and children, as the thankless task of hauling 20kg water cans often falls to them. Drinking unclean water sickens everyone, often killing children.
Not to mention, kids who are hauling water and often sick can't go to school.
A useful factoid: the number of annual deaths from water-borne illness is greater than the losses from all wars being fought.
Maybe we can't eliminate war, but we certainly have the tools at hand to provide clean water to more of the world's population.
Why Water Is Relatively Straightforward
When you start seriously contemplating the developing world's many challenges: poverty, illiteracy, hunger, disease, conflict, corruption, etc. -- you quickly enter a thicket of very difficult and complex social and economic problems. Your head starts to hurt after a while.
Not so with water.
It's a basic human need. The technology is cost-effective and proven: wells, catchment basins, pumps, etc.
There's an up-front initial investment, but the subsequent operating costs are quite low thereafter.
Required resources are difficult to divert via corrupt practices, and providing access to clean water doesn't have a political or religious agenda.
There's an exceedingly simple formula to provide clean water; all it requires is the resources and the organization to repeat it over and over again. And, yes, it is very possible to provide clean drinking water to all of the planet's inhabitants during our lifetime.
It's an achievable goal with a clear line-of-sight.
Why Charity: Water Is Worth Your Investment
At one level, charities are businesses like any other: they gather donations, and apply them for positive social outcomes. Just as businesses can be measured in terms of effectiveness, so can charities.
My impression so far: charity: water is a damned effective (and efficient) charity.
Most appealing is their funding model: 100% of public donations are put directly towards water projects. Their modest overhead is covered entirely by a smaller group of private donors.
You donate $100, and $100 goes to a specific project. As a donor, that appeals to me.
The social model is used well: you (or anyone else) can create your own charitable subgroup under their banner, and drive your own fund-raising activities in support of their goals.
The EMC Marketing team is taking this approach.
Contribute to any subgroup, and you get 100% transparency. You get to see your water project, the people affected, and how it's changed their lives. Your donation doesn't disappear into some black hole, never to be seen again.
As a marketeer, I am also seriously impressed on how well they communicate and engage their audience. If nothing else, take a look at their website and consider just how amazingly well done it is.
Imagine if all of us could communicate that effectively ...
This Is Where You Come In
Many of us are incredibly fortunate in this life, and -- as a result -- we're always looking for ways to give back. But exactly how and where to contribute can be a difficult choice.
The charity: water proposition makes it easy for me.
A basic and critical human need.
A ready answer at hand.
A transparent and efficient business model.
I'm signing up .. and I sincerely hope I can encourage you to do the same.