(Founder Stories) Charity: Water’s Harrison, “We Were Going To Run Out Of Money In Five Weeks”

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.