Paull Young, Director of Digital for charity: water, was one of our fantastic 2013 speakers at the annual We First Brand Leadership Summit. In a nutshell, charity: water is a nonprofit organization with a mission to bring clean and safe drinking water to every person on the planet. But what makes charity: water remarkable from the brand leadership lens, is that it is really a digital organization that’s become expert at community architecture and has been reinventing charity as we know it. As the first non-profit to have 1 million Twitter followers, charity: water raises the majority of their funds online and sends 100% on donations direct to local partners to do work.
We sat down with Paull to get the inside scoop on how charity: water’s deep investment in shareable video content and powerful partnerships has helped create an unparalleled donor experience for their vast network of passionate supporters.
What does it mean to be a Director of Digital? Paull’s main role as charity: water’s Director of Digital mostly focuses on the fundraising platform and inspiring the grassroots movement to fundraise for charity: water. Since coming on board, Paull has helped raise about $23 million using the platform. Here’s how it works: Anyone can set up a fundraising page and 100% of the donations from friends and family goes directly to a local partner. After 18 months, donors receive documented proof of their impact through things like photos, videos, and interactive GPS water maps.
Grassroots powers growth. charity: water has had some big names involved, from Will Smith to Adam Lambert. But Paull says the main success comes from inspirational individuals, like the children who choose to raise $100 for charity: water instead of getting birthday presents, or the children who set up a lemonade stand and donate the funds.
Differentiation through inspiration. charity: water believes the biggest way it differentiates itself is through inspiration and their medium of choice is video. In fact, charity: water has its own in-house videographer and recently created an 8 minute video in India. They ran this video as their September 2013 campaign with a goal of inspiring 2000 new people to set up fundraisers with the goal of raising $2 million by the end of September. This goal was actually achieved within days, by September 5th, because of this authentic and shareable video story.
Strength in numbers. charity: water leverages partnerships to help tell their story and get their message out to as many communities as possible. They’ve developed partnerships with many major companies such as HubSpot, American Express, and Google, and these partners often lend their own services or offer grants for charity: water to use to help spread their campaigns.
3 takeaways from the We First Brand Leadership Summit:
1. It’s about your audience, it’s not about you. As a brand you can start things, but you need inspired individuals to take that content and make it their own.
2. You must make it easy and give the right tools for different people and partners to turn your brand into their own story.
3. Be human. Humans love to connect, they love positive stories, and they love making a difference. If a brand can break down its walls and be human again then that’s where the opportunities lie.
Visit WeFirst14.com now for a 50% discount to the 2014 We First Brand Leadership Summit (offer good through Jan 31st). As part of our ‘One for One’ model, you also get to invite your favorite non-profit for free.
Reading Time: 1 minutesSimon Mainwaring is the founder of We First, a leading brand consultancy that provides purpose-driven strategy, content, and training that empowers companies to lead business, shape culture, and better our world.