Here’s the water system Pando readers built in Rwanda (And a reminder of why techies love Charity:Water)
Two years ago, on a whim, I decided to make our September PandoMonthly events a fundraiser for Charity:Water’s campaign to bring water to Rwanda. I had traveled through Rwanda for several weeks while reporting my second book, and was deeply moved by its people and their struggle.
With the help of a crazy Vegas dinner scheme cooked up by Tony Hsieh, we were able to raise nearly $90,000. We all felt great about it and then went back to work.
But it was the beginning of doing the hard work for Charity:Water and this past week, they sent us this video showing the completed project. Director of Digital Paull Young of Charity:Water promises to send more photos and GPS reporting of where every cent of money went before the end of the year, and also offered to hop on the phone to discuss more of what he saw on the ground.
Along with its success, Charity:Water has come under the all kinds of criticism: That it relies too heavily on celebrities, that it benefits from glitzy press and star-ladden promo videos, that it spends too much time and money taking the technorati to parts of Africa to see the work it does.
Lost in all of that typical backlash to anything successful are two facts: The first is how much good these tactics– like ’em or not– actually do in the world. The second is accountability. It’s not the glitzy videos and travel that’s key: It’s that Charity:Water tells you– and shows you– where your money went, years after you’ve made the donation.
This is why it’s one of the charities du jour for the tech crowd. Because the younger generation of entrepreneurs hate the idea of a NGO that talks a good game but is ultimately a black box in terms of where your money actually goes and what it does.
Next month, Charity:Water will launch its annual September Giving Campaign. I know everyone in our community is sick of getting the “give up my birthday” requests and the bloom is off the Charity:Water September campaign rose a bit. But watching this video, I remembered why I loved Rwandans and wanted to help them in the first place.
Charity:Water may get plenty of hype and attention and the inevitable backlash that comes with that. But its mission to bring the world fresh drinking water is far from accomplished. I’m proud our community could play a small part in making this dream a reality.