As the founder of Charity: Water, Scott Harrison has overseen substantial growth since launching his non-profit five years ago. He tells Founder Stories host, Chris Dixon that since 2006 Charity: Water has raised “about $50-million” and “helped 2-million people” gain access to clean water.
However, just eighteen months in things were a bit rocky. Harrison says the organization was dangerously off-balance and was “going to run out of money in five weeks.” Donors were supplying his non-profit with cash, but earmarking it specifically for water projects. Funding for staff was bone dry.
At the 11th hour, something unexpected happened. Bebo, founder Michael Birch and his wife agreed to meet with Harrison. Harrison says Birch “absolutely shocked me two days later by wiring a million bucks to the account with a kind of note, you know saying, here build the business.”
And build he has -
Harrison says Charity: Water has grown at “100% this year in a tough economy” but points out, “no one who works at Charity: Water is motivated by money.” He adds, “our shareholders [are] 8-year old school children in Bangladesh who aren’t in school because they’ve gotta get water for 4 hours in the morning and then do it again in the afternoon, so that keeps us going.”
Make sure to watch this entire video to hear more of Harrison’s insights and be sure to catch-up on episode I of this interview here. Episode III is coming up.
Past Founder Stories interviews featuring Mayor Bloomberg, Billy Chasen, Kevin O’Conner, Kevin Ryan and many other founders are here.
Chris Dixon is a Partner at and co-founder of Founder Collective. He is also a contributing writer for TechCrunch. He previously was the CEO and Co-founder of SiteAdvisor, which was acquired by McAfee, and Hunch, which was acquired by eBay. In addition to his work with Founder’s Collective, Chris is a personal investor in early-stage technology companies, including Skype, TrialPay, DocVerse, Invite Media, Gerson Lehrman Group, ScanScout, OMGPOP, BillShrink, Oddcast, Panjiva, Knewton, and a handful of other startups that...
Harrison was born an only child in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Charles and Joan Harrison. His family relocated and he was raised in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. When Harrison was four years old, his mother was exposed to carbon monoxide from a cracked furnace installed in their new energy efficient home. His mother’s immune system was destroyed and she became an invalid. As a result, Harrison grew up taking care of his mother and the household. He credits his family’s...