Scott Harrison, Founder of charity: water, on Bringing Clean Water to the World

Photo courtesy of Charity: Water.

Scott Harrison, Founder & CEO of charity: water. FC Member since 2010.

Since founding charity: water in 2006, Scott Harrison has discovered his true happiness by working tirelessly to promote a mission he believes in with every ounce of his soul. His story reads like an inspirational movie script, as Harrison walked away from the “good life” while promoting nightclubs and fashion events in New York City to embark on a spiritual exploration in 2004. It was in West Africa that he was able to discover the people directly affected by poverty in the world, while having his eyes “opened” to his true calling in life.

charity: water’s mission seems so simple to many of us in the Western World, but for the 800 million people in the world without clean water, it’s the difference between life and death. Having the ability to help so many doesn’t depend on multi-million dollar concepts or strategies in the case of charity: water; but instead, freshwater wells, rainwater catchments and sand filters make all the difference in the world. Bringing the gift of water to these developing nations is vital, and Harrison and the team behind charity: water are committed to continuing to make this a reality.

One of the successful endeavors by charity: water has been the “Birthday Project.” Yet again, it’s a rather simple concept, but one that has raised an estimated $9 million for the organization over the years. Practicing full transparency, charity: water continues to put 100% of donations to work for clean water, while leaving the everyday expenses, salaries, and other business costs to private donations.

“As thousands have pledged their birthday now (, we’ve seen some amazing statistics such as people raising an average of $1,000 from about 13 of their friends and family,” said Scott Harrison, Founder of charity: water. “But more important than the money raised for clean water, is the awareness and compassion our birthday fundraisers are able to spread.”


Photo courtesy of charity: water.

Birthday pledges certainly hold a special place in Harrison’s heart, dating back to the official launch of charity: water in 2006. That was when Harrison hosted his own birthday party, which resulted in $15,000 being raised by his door fee and donations… and the rest is history. Today, these birthday pledges average $770 each, which for many doesn’t seem like an astronomical sum of money. However, for charity: water, that $770 means 38 people can have clean drinking water.

“It’s humbling to know that such a simple idea has spread, and impacted the lives of so many people – previously living without clean drinking water,” explained Harrison. “We’ve seen inspiring campaigns that have ranged from a 9-year-old girl in Seattle that raised $1.2 million through her birthday after an untimely death; to a 16-year-old who built a well in Ethiopia; to an 89-year-old grandmother who wrote that she wanted to make turning 89 possible for more people in Africa.”

The “Birthday Project” is just one of the many ways Harrison and charity: water work towards their goal of providing clean and safe drinking water to these areas of the world, as well as making sure the clean water is maintained ongoing. To date, charity: water has funded 13,075 clean water projects in 22 countries, which will give over 3 million people clean drinking water. Harrison is always on the go, adding, “I use Zipcar like crazy, and grateful for their partnership with FoundersCard for that added perk.” With more than 17,000 people pledging their birthdays to charity: water so far, Harrison’s mission has a very bright future.