We want to share with you one of the most exciting and significant opportunities we've ever come across... and by investing, we can make the world a better place.
The Motley Fool is partnering with Charity: Water for Foolanthropy 2012. Our goal is to band together with Fools all over the world to change the lives of 1,000 people -- just by giving them wells with safe, clean drinking water.
Click here to join now, or keep reading to discover more.
Right now, 800 million people lack access to clean, safe drinking water. That means that in order to drink, women and children collect swamp water and mud from natural sources and carry it back to their villages before straining and drinking it.
This is not simply about being thirsty. When you don't have clean water, hygiene suffers, disease and illness spreads, and kids miss out on school.
What's more, carrying heavy jugs of water over long distances is a massive time sink. In Africa alone, 40 billion hours are spent every year simply in the backbreaking daily burden of fetching and carrying water. This number of hours is comparable to the economy of France.
But this is such a solvable problem.
Just below the ground you can find large reservoirs of clean water. Once you tap into these clean water sources with a well or filter in a village, hundreds of people suddenly have easy access to safe, clean water.
It's incredibly cost-effective too. Because it takes just $20 to provide one person with clean water. So when you think about it, any amount of money makes a huge difference.
And, as Charity: Water founder and CEO Scott Harrison told us when he visited the Fool, "Water changes everything."
Children are almost immediately healthier when delicious, clean water is introduced. And education is improved because they no longer need to take hours out of the school day to fetch water. Women possess more financial resources and more time to make goods and to sell them at market.
According to a recent U.N. report, every $1 invested in water returns $12 in time savings and improved health, education, and ability to work. That's an amazing return on investment.
As Scott pointed out, of all the many terrible social ills in the world, the water crisis is actually solvable with surprisingly cost-effective solutions. And because the lack of clean water is at the root of so many other problems, the value proposition in supporting an organization like his is quite simply incredible and tremendously exciting.
We are investors. So we often find ourselves pondering "value" and "return on investment." We all know the greatest value and future return is generated when dollars are invested wisely. Luckily, sometimes even a small gift can provide one heck of a great investment for future economic well-being.
What's so incredible about Scott's organization isn't just its bold, world-changing mission, but its revolutionary model that optimizes return on investment, accountability, and transparency.
Charity: Water follows some fascinating rules to optimize the bang for our bucks:
- Giving 100%: Private donors cover Charity: Water's operating costs so that every cent of public donations goes straight to water projects. Scott is so serious about this rule, that Charity: Water even covers online credit card transaction fees rather than have those charges come out of our donations.
- Giving donors proof: Charity: Water gives donors proof of where their money went, using tools like Google Earth and GPS coordinates to help track the proven water projects. Scott recognized that one of the worst aspects of traditional charitable giving was the feeling many people got that their dollars were being funneled down a "black hole." Charity: Water tracks every project and every dollar, keeping itself accountable for its investments.
- Giving personal connections: Another factor that makes Charity: Water feel more like a fast-growing business than a non-profit is that Scott sought to build an "epic brand" for this charity and its cause, something along the lines of companies like Apple or Nike. Charity: Water also provides an easy tool that allows anyone to create their own campaign to fundraise for clean water.
Meanwhile, Scott has thought a lot about the way many charities function, and why they haven't traditionally functioned all that well. According to an interview, he said, "So many charities seem to market guilt. We tell a story of opportunity. We needed to present the problems, the solutions, and the joy that results when those solutions are implemented, in beautiful ways."
So what can we do to make sure that everyone has access to safe, clean water?
We've both chipped in alongside the many Fools who are helping to make sure that everyone can drink clean, safe water.
The purpose of The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. And normally, we'd want you to invest in the stock market. But today, we ask that you help us invest in communities across the world. By providing them clean drinking water, we can give them the gift of a brighter, healthier future, and make the world a better place.
Click here to find out how you can help, too.
Here's Scott speaking at FoolHQ earlier this year.