Frequently Asked Questions.
1. The 100% model: How it works.
2. Giving: All you need to know about your donation.
3. Where in the world: Choosing where water projects are built.
4. In and out: Duration of mycharity: water fundraising campaigns.
5. Keep it classy: Standards for campaign pages.
6. Now what: Where your money goes.
7. Water project sponsorship: The process.
8. More questions about our mycharity: water fundraising campaigns?
9. Party time: Do’s and don’ts for your fundraising event.
10. Rock it: charity: water merchandise and materials.
11. Water works: Getting your business involved.
12. Getting involved: Internships and employment opportunities.
13. Going green: The fate of the $20 water bottle.
14. Still young: Accreditation with Charity Navigator.
About the water crisis: the problems and the solutions.
15. Drink this: The water issue and its impact.
16. Thinking global: Where we work.
17. Acting local: Working with exemplary partners.
18. It takes a village: Community ownership.
19. Keep it clean: What’s up with hygiene and sanitation.
20. Investing for the long-term: Sustainability.
21. The money trail: Where your money goes.
22. Appropriate technologies: Water solutions around the world.
23. Travel advisory: Why we can’t coordinate trips to the field.
24. Why does it take so long to see my well built?
From the start, we’ve made restoring people’s faith in charity an important part of our mission. So as a fundraising organization, we direct 100% of public donations straight to on-the-ground project costs. We’re serious about 100%: we even pay the PayPal and credit card transaction fees anytime you donate online.
So how do we keep our lights on? A group of private donors, foundations and sponsors help pay for the everyday costs of running the organization. Our flights to the field, our staff, our office, even paperclips and ink toner, are taken care of separately so that every penny of your donation goes straight to water projects. Learn more about our 100% model here >
Online: Donating online is our easiest option. You can donate using any major credit card. All international donations made on the charity: water website will be converted to USD. Take care when filling out billing and shipping information; PayPal has a highly sensitive automatic fraud alert system and it picks up any inconsistencies in these subjects.
There are different options for giving online. See them here >
Security for online donations: We use PayPal, the largest online global payment processor, to securely process all online donations. Don’t worry; you don’t need an account with them to donate to charity: water. And we’ll never share your information with anyone.
By check: Send checks (we don’t advise cash) for general donations to our New York office at: charity: water, 200 Varick St., Suite 201, New York, NY 10014. If you’re donating in honor of someone, sponsoring a water project or want to direct your donation to our operations costs, please write this in the memo of your check.
mycharity: water campaigns: Want to donate to a friend’s mycharity: water fundraising campaign? You can do this either by using your credit card on their donation page or by mailing us a check. To donate online: Go to their campaign page, click “donate” and fill out your credit card information. We’ll process your card with PayPal as we do with any online donation. To donate by check: Mail us your check with the campaign ID in the memo of your check. The campaign ID is listed at the end of the campaign’s URL when you’re on their page (i.e., for the campaign with URL “http://www.mycharitywater.org/campaign_id=12345”, the campaign ID is 12345). We need this ID on your check to make sure your donation gets tracked to the right campaign. Mail the check to: charity: water, 200 Varick St., Suite 201, New York, NY 10014.
By phone: Please call our office at (646) 688-2323. We’re here Monday through Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. EST. Upon making your donation, please also let us know if you’re donating in honor of someone (and their name).
International donations: Only donations from within the U.S. are tax-deductible. For USD money orders, please collect donations in your currency, then mail a USD money order to: charity: water, 200 Varick St., Suite 201, New York, NY, 10014. Money orders should be made payable to charity: water. At this time, we don’t accept foreign checks; however, international banks can and will make checks out in USD for you, if you go in and ask. You can then mail us that check, using our address listed above.
Tax-deductibility: charity: water is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit, so all donations made directly to the organization are tax-deductible. Our audited financials as well as our 501(c)(3) exemption can be found online here. Our 501(c)(3) may not be provided to any sponsors or donors on our behalf without our written consent. If you’re looking for our 990 information, please email email@example.com.
Tax receipts: Receipts for online donations may take up to 12 hours to process and email to you. Be on the lookout for yours; tax receipt emails sometimes find their way into junk mail folders. If you don’t get your receipt within 12 hours, please let us know and we’ll gladly reissue you another one. Offline donors receive a formal tax receipt in the mail within four weeks after their donation has been processed. Again, if you don’t get your receipt within that time, just let us know and we’ll resend it.
charity: water currently works with more than 20 implementing water partners in 19 countries to assess and determine areas and communities of greatest need and then build the projects alongside these communities. To help reach those regions most effectively, we don’t allow donors to designate the country where their water projects will be built. Our water programs team determines all water project locations based on our quarterly funding cycle. However, you can learn more about our partners here and download the timeline of our water project implementation here >
All mycharity: water campaigns have a limit of three months. The sooner the fundraising pages reach their goals and close the campaigns, the quicker we can put that funding to work providing people with clean water. In order to turn the funds raised into successful water projects as quickly as possible, three months is the maximum campaign length allowed. We grant funds to the field on a quarterly basis (every three months); when a campaign’s funds are used in the field is determined by when that campaign closes within these quarters.
Already reached your goal before the three-month limit? No problem; you can increase your goal or even start a new campaign. Sign into yourmycharity: water account to do this from your campaign page.
Please note: Your page URL will still be accessible past the campaign end date (in case you’d like to show off for friends and family), but your campaign won’t be active, so you won’t be able to collect donations for it.
Be creative but be respectful. Think before you post. Pages with offensive language or nudity will be removed. charity: water uses our discretion to make sure the site is appropriate for all ages.
If you’ve reached a fundraising goal of at least $5,000 (the average cost of one water project), we’ll be in touch to get important information for your recognition plaque and water project completion report.
If you didn’t quite meet your goal, don’t worry! mycharity: water can still track every dollar donated on your page to a specific water project. About 18 months after your campaign’s funds have reached the field, we’ll let you know where your money has helped fund water projects for those in need.
Once we receive complete funding for a water project (using our average cost of $5,000) through a completed mycharity: water fundraising campaign or general donation, we work with our implementing partners in the field to identify the right water technology and location of the project. Water projects generally take up to 18 months to construct, implement and then report on. Sustainable water projects require more than simple construction of the physical project; they need careful planning, problem-solving, maintenance solutions and community engagement. Only when a project has been deemed “complete,” do we report the status of the well to donors and upload all photos and GPS coordinates to Google Maps. Each project funded by an individual donor or campaign receives a virtual plaque recognizing the community and the donors that made the project possible.
Although we’d like to, charity: water cannot accommodate country requests. Our water programs team determines all water project locations based on our quarterly funding cycle.
Get the entire timeline of water project sponsorship here >
Interested in sponsoring a water project? Learn more and donate online here >
If you’d rather work with us offline to sponsor a project, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also sponsor a water project as a company. Learn more about that here >
Don’t have the funds but think you can raise them? Join mycharity: water and start a fundraising campaign here >
We have a small team to support our fundraisers. They love answering your questions or taking suggestions (seriously, they do). Just email@example.com and they’ll get back to you as soon as they can.
Do: Get excited. Engage your network, rally the masses and have fun with your mission!
Don’t: Get so excited that you use profanity or language in your promotions that could potentially harm the charity: water name or brand.
Do: Feel free to use our assets to teach others about the water crisis. You can use our banners and Twitter backgrounds to show your support. Download our photos, videos and other media to share here >
Don’t: Print or promote the charity: water brand without first reading over our guidelines here (for individuals) or here (for companies).
Do: Know your stuff. Use our website, ideas and info from our blog and our press kit to familiarize yourself with the water issue and what we’re doing about it.
Don’t: Provide our 501(c)(3) documentation for tax purposes to event attendees or donors. Our 501(c)(3) documentation should be used solely for informational purposes to confirm our non-profit status and should not be treated as a tax receipt.
Anything we missed? Send any other questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get some gear. Head to our merchandise page to get all the gear you need to promote your fundraising campaign.
Questions about shipping? Email us at email@example.com.
Spread the word. Download our photos, videos and other media here >
Get spotted. We put photos of our supporters and fundraisers wearing their charity: water gear on the charity: water blog! If you want to share a shot of you proudly wearing charity, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are many ways to get your workplace on board. The best place to start is on our website here >
Many companies find it rewarding to either sponsor a water project as an office or start their own fundraising campaign on mycharity: water. There, coworkers can track donations and work towards a common goal; 100% of what you raise together goes directly to water project costs. When you sponsor a project or raise more than $5,000 (the average cost of one water project), we’ll then recognize your company at the water point you funded after it’s complete. You’ll also receive GPS coordinates and photos of the community that received clean water because of your gift! See an example of a company that led their own successful fundraising campaign here >
Also — did you know that most companies have a matching gift program? That means that when you give an amount as an individual, the company then donates the same. 100% of both donations directly fund water projects for those in need. Learn about how you can double (or even triple) your impact through your workplace here >
Please note that charity: water has a strict policy prohibiting the use of our logo or brand in conjunction with any outside products, promotional materials or commercial websites. Fundraising is encouraged, but using the cause to market your business is not. Have a question about this process or our policies? Email us at email@example.com.
Internship positions are often posted on our website here and on idealist.org, as are any employment opportunities. To protect the valuable time of our small staff, we ask that you do not reach out to ask about potential openings if none are listed on our site. If you’re in NYC, the best way to get involved is to sign up here and receive weekly updates on how you can volunteer. Thank you!
When we launched charity: water in 2006, the $20 charity: water bottle seemed like a great way for us to raise funds and awareness. But we soon realized that bottled water was not the most environmentally-friendly approach. In 2008, we said goodbye to the plastic for good. In its place, we’ve teamed up with Thermos to create the eco-friendly stainless steel Thermos Hydration Bottle, a cool, reusable way to transport water while giving two people access to clean and safe drinking water. Because Thermos donated the products, 100% of your $40 purchase goes directly to building water projects. Get one on our merch page here >
A nonprofit must be in existence for at least four years — with four years of 990 forms on file — in order to be eligible for ranking on Charity Navigator (America’s largest independent charity evaluator). We’re looking forward to that time. Until then, check out this article written by Charity Navigator’s founding president after he attended our charity: ball.
Millions of women and children in developing countries walk more than three miles every day to collect drinking water. Often, this water will make them sick, as it comes from contaminated ponds, rivers and springs polluted by animal and human waste.
Unsafe water and a lack of basic sanitation cause more deaths each year than all forms of violence, including war. About 4,100 children die every day from water-related diarrhea. And the time spent collecting water keeps children out of school and women from pursuing economic activities.
Clean and safe water is readily available in underground aquifers, freshwater springs or with the help of simple filters. It just needs to be properly collected and managed.
Learn more about the water crisis here >
charity: water has selected 19 developing countries to focus our efforts and impact. We choose our areas of work for their very limited access to a safe water supply, high rates of water-related deaths and exemplary local partners working to implement sustainable projects that tip the scale. Globally, the greatest water needs are in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, so most of our projects are located in those regions. See each of our completed water projects by country in Google Maps here >
Our countries of focus:
Africa: Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda.
Asia: Bangladesh, Cambodia, India and Nepal.
Caribbean/Latin America: Bolivia, Guatemala, Haiti and Honduras.
Our field teams drill through some of the deepest bedrock to find aquifers. They scale the tallest mountains in search of springs and go where no one else dares — all for the sake of bringing water to some of the poorest people on earth.
charity: water is honored to work with more than 20 incredible water and sanitation organizations in the world. By partnering with local field organizations in each country, we’re able to invest in their expertise and acquired knowledge.
We believe in supporting national staff. For example, Ethiopians run the organizations we support in Ethiopia, and Indians run our partner organizations in India. Even the larger international aid organizations we partner with employ 95% of their field staff from the country they’re working in.
To learn more about our current partners, go here >
NOTE: We know there are thousands of amazing organizations out there doing important work for the water sector, but we don’t accept unsolicited funding requests.
Community buy-in is essential to the sustainability of the project. Most projects start with the community contributing a nominal fee. This creates a sense of ownership and demonstrates their dedication to the project.
Communities then elect a Water Committee with a focus on gender equality. Because women are the ones carrying the water in most cases, it’s essential that they are adequately represented. This is often the first time women hold leadership positions in the community. The Water Committees collect nominal fees to prepare for any future project repairs, keep the water point area clean and lead the community in using and taking care of their water project.
Some of our partners elect local Hygiene Trainers; they receive training to educate the community about proper sanitation and hygiene education. Other partners use local organizatons to spread this knowledge in trainings and improve hygiene habits and practices across the community.
Depending on the type of water system, communities will agree to contribute labor and materials — for example, some dig trenches for piping or supply the gravel and sand for project construction. This reduces the cost of the project and increases community ownership.
charity: water funds the implementation of hygiene (clean-living practices; emphasis on hand-washing) and sanitation (toilets) in areas that receive a freshwater project, when possible. Talking toilets isn’t pleasant, but we’re serious about it. We believe strongly in the power of coupling safe water with safe hygienic practices. Think about it: you can’t keep the water clean if people don’t have a separate place to go to the bathroom or don’t know the importance of keeping their hands clean. Research shows that safe water alone can reduce water-related deaths by 21%; but safe water with hand-washing can cut in almost in half.
Learn more about water + hygiene and sanitation here >
Progress must be sustainable. We believe sustainability is a result of partnering with exemplary local organizations, empowering community ownership, incorporating sanitation and hygiene into every water project and laying out a maintenance program. These are the core ingredients that create lasting change.
All water projects, whether they are wells, spring protections or pond sand filters, require basic maintenance and upkeep. Parts need to be greased, rubber gaskets replaced, and the water quality needs to be tested on a regular basis. This is why quality implementing partners who empower communities matter; because the sustainability of the project lies within the community and the local government’s ability to care for the project long after it has been completed.
Why we no longer use, “$20 can provide clean water for one person for 20 years.”
Four years ago, the accepted average lifespan of many of our water technologies was 20 years. Since then, charity: water — and the water sector as a whole — has been reevaluating what “sustainability” really means. We’ve always known that $20 per person covers the implementation of the water project on the ground. But we’re now unclear about how much it will cost to maintain our water projects over time; so we don’t want to continue to tell you (and ask you to tell your friends and supporters) that $20 can cover the cost of water for one person for 20 years.
A $20 donation can still give one person access to safe water, since it pays for construction of the project. But keeping the project running over the next 20 years could cost more. This all depends on what maintenance model works best and how (and when) the community fully takes ownership of their project. For now, we’ve eliminated the “20 years” portion of our messaging. We don’t want to promise that a project will last that long on its own. As we determine the cost of project maintenance over time, please know that your $20 still averages out to helping one person gain access to safe water through the construction of a project. We just have yet to know how much that project will continue to cost over decades of time.
Learn more about this on our blog here >
charity: water sends 100% of your funds to our partners in the field. The funds are restricted to the direct costs associated to the water projects and are enforced with formalized and detailed grant agreements. Partners submit extensive line-item budgets to charity: water on the projects we fund.
charity: water invests in a diversified portfolio of water solutions. Water availability varies per region, so projects must be appropriate to the communities and the local environment. The types of projects we fund are: hand-dug wells, drilled wells, rainwater catchments, pond sand filters, spring protections, BioSand filters and UV/carbon filters. charity: water also funds rehabilitations of broken water points, retraining community members in proper maintenance and care.
Every partner conducts basic water quality testing before water can be consumed. This test determines if the water is free of contaminates and harmful minerals — like arsenic or fluoride — and is safe to drink.
As you can imagine, we get hundreds of requests every year to take people to the field to see the work. We wish we could take every one of you, but it’s just not what we do.
If we did take everyone, it would be incredibly expensive, and we don’t think, a good use of our time or your money. Additionally, our partners have to stop working to give tours which we feel isn’t a good use of their time, either. That’s why we crafted the Google Maps concept. You may not be able to meet the community you helped, but we’ve trained our partners to photograph and document each project so we can send you information about the specific community you impacted because of your gift.
We also can’t accommodate people who want to be part of the construction process. Local teams of skilled engineers and hydrologists do the technical work, and we’ve found that manual labor taken on by the community or by national staff instills a sense of ownership and supports the local job market. So, while we think it would be fun to take donors or volunteers to the field, give them a shovel and tell them to start digging, we’re being much more effective by leaving that to our partners and community members.
The one-year timeline: While it may take as little as a week to complete the construction of some of our water projects, there is much behind-the-scenes action that requires more than a year of work. Drilling permits need to be purchased, water committee members selected, sand collected and hygiene trainers mobilized. We don’t consider projects “completed” until our partners have had one year to work with the communities. After which, they need the time to properly report back on the project and its impact. While it’s tough to up to 18 months to hear about the project you’ve funded, please understand that we don’t take short cuts. We feel we’re being better stewards of your funding by supporting holistic programs.
Get a general project timeline from our Sponsor a Water Project PDF here >
Water, sanitation & hygiene: If you just bring clean water into a community, you can reduce water-related deaths by 21%. If you just encouraged people to use latrines, deaths would be reduced by 32%. And if you get people to wash their hands, deaths are reduced by nearly 50%! Almost a million lives would be saved every year from water-related disease if people just washed their hands! That’s why we do all three. But without clean water, it’s hard to talk soap or toilets. So it starts with water.
More data: UNICEF and the World Health Organization have partnered to establish the Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for water and sanitation. The JMP is responsible for collecting and analyzing a variety of household surveys to determine coverage areas and to forecast trends. charity: water uses the JMP report to gather our data. This source can be found here >