Scott Harrison spent 10 years as a New York City nightclub promoter, partying until sunrise every morning and ingesting almost every substance imaginable.
But when he was 28, he realized his life lacked meaning.
“My tombstone might say, ‘here’s the guy who got thousands of people drunk,'” Harrison said.
Feeling lost, he decided to volunteer for a medical charity in Liberia.
Harrison spent the next year-and-a-half in West Africa, where he encountered people with diseases he’d never seen before — such as cholera, typhoid, dysentery, and fatal cases of diarrhea and dehydration.
He smelled the yellow-brown parasitic dirty water that millions of people were drinking. He discovered that unsafe, unclean drinking water is the world’s leading cause of death.
When he returned to New York City, he couldn’t bring himself to sell expensive bottled water at nightclubs anymore.
Instead, Harrison moved into a tiny closet and launched a nonprofit, Charity: Water.
Today, Charity: Water has funded more than 24,000 water projects that have brought safe, clean drinking water to more than 7.3 million people.
That’s the good news.
The bad news? There are still 663 million people without access to clean water. That’s around double the population of the U.S.
And water-borne diseases kill about 16,000 people each week, almost half of whom are children under age 5.
There’s still a long way to go.
Today, Scott joins me on the podcast to talk about how he started and grew a major charitable organization.
- How does a nightclub promoter with zero business experience launch a massive nonprofit organization?
- What mistakes did he make?
- How did he differentiate his organization from the thousands of other charities out there?
- Who did he first hire?
- What advice would he offer to anyone who’s goal is to create a nonprofit?
Learn the answers to these questions and more in this excellent episode with Scott Harrison, the founder of Charity: Water.
- Charity Water — Short Film
- Charity Water — Projects
- World Health Organization – Drinking water fact sheet
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