Annual Report 2012

Clean water for 3M people

Our Progress Through 2012

For years, we referred to ourselves as a startup organization. But in 2012 we realized that wasn't entirely true. In 2012 alone, we raised $33 million and funded more than 2,000 water projects. We were able to give more than 700,000 people clean water around the world. And for the first time in our history, we began to feel like we weren't a startup anymore.

  • $93 million Total raised
  • 8,208 Water projects funded
  • 3,223,000 People with clean water

Watch The 2012 Recap

Our Work In The Field

Every year, we set ambitious goals for ourselves. We know that the long hours spent working, and the money we raise translates into clean drinking water for thousands of people in need.

Total progress in 2012

  • $33 million Total raised
  • 2,043 Water projects funded
  • 711,380 People with clean water

Water Solutions

Bringing clean water to people looks different in each country. We fund a variety of water solutions depending on water sources, terrain and population. Here are some of the water solutions we funded in 2012:

  • Drilled Wells

    A drilling team drills deep into the earth to reach fresh aquifers.

  • Rainwater Catchments

    Gutters on rooftops direct the flow of rainfall into a sanitary holding tank.

  • Hand Dug Wells

    Skilled laborers dig up to 15 meters by hand to reach aquifers below.

  • Spring Protections

    A system captures and safely stores pure water from a natural spring.

  • BioSand Filters

    Layers of sand and microbacterial film filter out contaminants.

  • Piped Systems

    Networks of pipes supply water to different community tap stands.

  • Latrines

    Covered shelters provide safety and privacy for bathroom users.

  • Rehabilitations

    A team repairs broken projects to restore clean water to a community.

Remote Sensors

In December, we announced a $5 million pilot project with Google to develop remote sensor technology that will tell us exactly how much water is flowing through our water points at any given time, anywhere in the world. Over the next few years, we’ll develop and install 4,000 low-cost remote sensors in our existing and new water projects in several different countries.

This will ensure that our water projects are being maintained and repaired when necessary, and that clean water keeps flowing.

Global Impact Awards by Google Image of remote sensor Image of remote sensor

Project Reporting

Since day one, we’ve always believed in proving our work to our supporters. We track every dollar a campaigner raises and once the project they funded is finished, we send them a completion report with photos and GPS coordinates of their project. See a completion report here »




  • 30,000 Completion reports sent
  • 11 Countries reported on
  • 256,991 Supporters received reports

Rachel's Story:
Seeing her impact

In July, 2011, a nine-year old girl named Rachel Beckwith died from a tragic car accident. Thousands of people around the world heard her story and began to donate to her 9th birthday wish campaign.

  • $1,265,823 Money raised
  • 143 Water projects funded
  • 37,770 People with clean water

Once the projects were complete, we took Rachel’s mom, Samantha, to Ethiopia with us to see a few of the wells her daughter helped build. Take a look at the video:

Our Vision for Ethiopia and Rwanda

We want to bring clean water to 100 million people by 2022. As part of that goal, we plan to serve 3 million people in 2015 and bring 100% coverage to massive communities in both Ethiopia and Rwanda.

Tigray, Ethiopia

In the last four years, with the help of our implementing partners REST and A Glimmer of Hope, we've funded over 2,100 water projects and served more than 830,000 people with clean water in Tigray. But there are still more than 3 million people without clean water here, and we're not stopping until we've served every one of them.

  • People in Tigray 4.8M
  • Lack clean water 67%

Rulindo, Rwanda

Our 2012 September Campaign funded seven large scale water systems in Rwanda. With the help of our implementing partner, Water for People, we will bring clean, safe water to everyone in Shyorongi and Ngoma sectors of Rulindo District. But Rulindo District is massive, and we're going to keep going until every sector has access to life's most basic need.

  • People in Rulindo 285,000
  • Lack clean water 70%

Our Amazing Supporters

Our supporters donate online and mail in checks, volunteer at events, contribute to our staff salaries and operating costs, and even give up their birthdays to help us do what we do. charity: water wouldn't exist without them.


As we grow, our donor base continues to grow, too. We receive donations from people all around the world generously supporting our cause and making our work possible. Here’s some information about our 2012 donors:

90,057 Donated to clean water

$187.90 Average donation

Most Donations by Country

  • United States 94,300 donations
  • Canada 4,400 donations
  • Australia 3,000 donations
  • U.K. 2,100 donations
  • Singapore 700 donations


In 2012, our online fundraising platform, mycharity: water, hit a huge milestone. In just over 3 years, it raised $20 million — 100% of the money going to clean water.

  • 11,313 Campaigns started
  • 83,247 Total donations
  • $8,198,783 Total raised

Birthday Campaigners

charity: water began with a birthday party, and since then, the idea of giving up your birthday for clean water has grown into a movement. Over half of campaigns on mycharity: water are birthday campaigns.

  • 6,262 Birthdays donated in 2012
  • $2,925,890 Raised through birthdays

Most Raised$84,101

Adam Lambert Gave up his 30th Birthday

Birthdays Donated By Month

395 birthdays 299 birthdays 477 birthdays 662 birthdays 494 birthdays 446 birthdays 546 birthdays 610 birthdays 732 birthdays 604 birthdays 497 birthdays 529 birthdays

Most popular birthday campaigner names

Sarah51 birthdays

Michael38 birthdays

Birthday Campaigners You Might Recognize

Pledge your birthday

Some of our favorite 2012 mycharity: water campaigns

Our supporters didn’t stop at just birthdays. They came up with some very creative ways to fundraise for clean water.

charity: ball

$3 Million+ raised
80,000 people will drink clean water

charity: ball photo charity: ball photo

More than 1,800 people joined us as we hosted our 7th annual charity: ball gala at the 69th Regiment Armory in NYC. Seth Meyers of Saturday Night Live hosted the evening as we raised over $3 million in one night.

A sincere thank you to all of you who made it out to NYC and celebrated with us.

Members of the Well

The Well is a group of donors who support the operating costs of charity: water. They cover everything from staff salaries and supplies, to office rent and flights to the field. Without their support, we couldn’t raise money for water projects or run the organization.

  • 75% 89 Well members cover more than 75% of our staff & operating costs
  • 52% of all Well members have traveled to the field with charity: water

Where our well members are from

Map of Well Members
New York
Los Angeles
San Francisco
New Jersey

5 Well members live in Europe

Our Well Members also happen to be some of the most creative, inspiring and successful people we know. Take a look at some of the brands they lead:

Our Team in NYC

Our team consists of incredibly talented and passionate people who are proud to make a difference in the world by doing work that they love every day.


In 2012, our staff more than doubled in size!

23 New staff hires in 2012

45 total employees (We’re still hiring!)

Key hires of 2012

  • President
  • VP of Growth
  • 3 Software Engineers
  • Director of Special Programs
  • Director of Key Relationships
  • Strategy & Growth Manager
  • Director of Program Finance
  • Web Designer
  • $Controller
  • Digital Marketing Manager
  • Videographer
  • 2 Project Managers

About Our Staff

  • Jamie, Videographer
    I had to wear cabbage patch kids clothes as baby because I was only 3 lbs.

  • Chris, Facilities Manager
    I’ve broken my nose 4 times, but I’m a softy on the inside.

  • Mohini, Water Programs Associate
    I was a power ranger for halloween for six years straight. The red one, of course.

  • Broc, Software Engineer
    I eat street meat at least once every two weeks.

  • Christoph, President
    I sailed across the Atlantic with three friends, ride a Vespa to work and have eight chickens.

  • Christina, Front-End Engineer
    I was on the reality show Farmer Wants a Wife.

  • Ian, IT Systems Manager
    In Lesotho, I made a deal with the chief to purchase a long haired donkey named Willie Nelson.

  • Sarah, Digital Marketing Manager
    I was in an all-girls R&B hip hop acapella group in high school.

  • Jasdeep, Sr. Software Engineer
    I was co-captain of my high school math team. I challenge you to out-nerd me.

  • Lindsay, Community Engagement
    My dream in life is to own a 21 window VW van.

  • Robert, Director of Special Programs
    I am skilled in multiple styles of martial arts, and the art of balloon animal making.

  • Josh, Sr. Accountant
    I kicked a 47-yard field goal in a game for my high school football team.

  • Mary-Ann, Product Manager
    I have 18 aunts and uncles, and about 90 cousins. So many, I've lost count.

  • Greg, Designer
    In high school, I had a ponytail and drove a car with flames painted on the side. Hindsight is 20/20. 

Where our team is from

New York
New Jersey

4 staff from Australia, 1 from Central African Republic, 1 from Kenya, 1 from China, and 1 from Russia

We might be from all over, but we’re all proud to be New Yorkers.

Our Volunteers

They show up early and stay late, parade down the streets of New York City holding Jerry Cans, post photos to Instagram and Facebook, and write thousands of thank you cards. Our volunteers are our most dedicated supporters.

  • 3,125Tax receipts folded
  • 2,679 Thank yous written
  • 451 Happy birthday calls
  • 250 Jerry Cans shipped

Board of Directors

charity: water is overseen by a board of talent and influence. Our board governs major charity: water decisions, approves all water programs and offers input and guidance for organizational decisions.

Michael Wilkerson (Chairman), Brant Cryder, Brook Hazelton (Secretary), Gian-Carlo Ochoa, Ph.D. (Treasurer), Gordon Pennington, Scott Harrison, Valerie Donati

2012 Financials

We began the year in our strongest financial position to date. As a result, we were able to invest in the most talented people, some of the best technology, as well as inspire new funding for innovative solutions like remote monitoring. We continued to build on that strength throughout 2012.

Total Donations

$33 million Total money raised in 2012

100% Model.
When we started charity: water, we made a bold promise — 100% of public donations would go directly to the field to fund water projects. We’d depend on private donors to cover our staff and operating costs. Six years in, we’re still keeping that promise! Learn about our 100% Model »


$22M raised
for water


$11M raised
for operations

Donated goods & services$1.5 million

Donations invested in water

In 2012, we sent $18,292,119 to the field to fund 2,034 water projects in 14 developing countries. That’s 100% of every dollar raised by the public. Here’s where the money went:

Ethiopia (37%) $6,843,764
Rwanda (10%) $1,780,037
India (9%) $1,588,906
Malawi (8%) $1,400,000
Cambodia (7%) $1,353,811
D.R.C. (6%) $1,008,357
Tanzania (4%) $807,211
Kenya (4%) $695,339
C.A.R. (3%) $635,150
Burkina Faso (3%) $502,071
Nepal (3%) $490,854
Bangladesh (2%) $405,283
Cote d’Ivoire (2%) $454,258
Liberia (2%) $327,078

Our Impact In The Field

In just six years, we’ve invested more than $55 million in water projects.

Donations invested in Operations

In 2012, we invested $4,764,543 of private donations in our own infrastructure, including competitive staff salaries and benefits, water program development, technologies, trips to the field, special events and office operations. Here’s where the money went:

Payroll (68%) $3,237,189
Professional Fees (13%) $607,101
Travel (7%) $326,665
Office Equipment & Supplies (4%) $205,322
Shipping, Printing, & Postage (3%) $121,167
Events (2%) $90,201
Rent & Utilities (2%) $110,584
Credit Card Fees (1%) $57,394
Marketing (0%) $8,920

Organizational Efficiency

It costs charity: water just to raise $1.

Other Things to Know

  • KPMG. We moved to a Big 4 Accounting Firm, where we’re now working with global leaders in audit and tax services. See the 2012 audit report here »

  • Charity Navigator. We received another 4-star rating for financial accountability and transparency. See our updated profile here »

  • 401K. We established our first employee savings plan, where charity: water matches staff contributions up to 4%.

Thank you for another unbelievable year. We appreciate your support, the faith you put in our staff and partners around the world, and the passion you have for helping bring clean water to people in need. And most importantly, we appreciate that you made it through our entire Annual Report. Here's to another great year!

— the charity: water team