Invest in Something That Changes Everything

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.

Figures from Charity: 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.


Read/Post Comments (10) | Recommend This Article (66)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2012, at 6:07 PM, Seanickson wrote:

    not what I normally think of when I think of my investments, but I can't think of a better way to have a positive impact on the world. Thanks for posting this.

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2012, at 6:14 PM, rd80 wrote:

    Foolanthropy returns! Excellent!

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2012, at 6:25 PM, TMFCatoMinor wrote:

    According to Charity Navigator, which rates the effectiveness and transparency of charities, Charity:Water scores a 65 out of 70, the highest rating of any water-focused charity.

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2012, at 6:59 PM, TMFDiogenes wrote:

    Thanks, Sean and Russ! :)

    Neat site, Dan, thanks for sharing that.


  • Report this Comment On December 22, 2012, at 5:01 AM, kajarga wrote:

    Playpumps International are already doing this in Africa. They have installed more than 1700 systems drilling boreholes down to the water table

    The name arises because the kids supply the muscle, by playing on a roundabout, which pumps the water up to a holding tank. Cost works out at just £3 or $5 per person in the village. That's total cost, not annual cost with the supply good for a least 10 years.

    Ask yourself why Bill Gates doesn't apply his monies to clean water in Africa instead of polio, which is caused by the OPV, and banned in the US for this reason?

    I foirgot. He wants to cut world population by 1.5 billion, so giving the poor clean water is counter-productive !!

  • Report this Comment On December 22, 2012, at 1:32 PM, MavenPicker wrote:

    This is a great opportunity for charity! Do you have a similar water investment play?

  • Report this Comment On December 22, 2012, at 3:01 PM, moneyinmotion wrote:

    Great cause. A friend of mine knows a filmmaker, Jessica Yu, who recently made a movie about the world's water woes:

    Hey, it's even got Jack Black in it!

  • Report this Comment On December 22, 2012, at 4:08 PM, ShallowWells2575 wrote:

    Your charitable contribution suggestion is a very good one. Marion Medical Mission in Marion IL specializes in providing clean water in 3 countries in south-central Africa: Malawi, Zambia, & Tanzania. A representative of Marion Medical Mission, who is located in Malawi, identifies sources of clean water that are no more than 20 feet deep. The men of a nearby village or villages

    manually dig the wells. During the dry season volunteers from the Marion Medical Mission travel to one of the countries in Sept & October to cap the wells and install pumps. The cost of a shallow well is $400. In 2012 2,575 wells were built and an estimated 386,250 adults and children were provided with a sustainable source of safe drinking water. The $1,030,000 cost for the 2,575 wells is raised thru tax-deductible charitable contributions. No overhead or administrative costs are deducted. The citizens of the villages pay a nominal fee to have a well installed and are responsible for maintaining the well, pump, & capping of the well. I have been to Malawi twice & have seen shallow wells. And, my wife & I have paid for a number of shallow wells in lieu of Christmas gifts to our children. If you are interested, you can communicate with Marion Medical Mission at 1412 Shawneed Dr, Marion IL 62959; by phone at 618-997-5365; by fax at 618-997-5366; by email at; or go to their website at

  • Report this Comment On December 24, 2012, at 2:42 PM, RavenandSunny wrote:

    I believe that Rotary International is also trying to bring Clean Water to the world. They worked for many, many years to eradicate polio and their efforts paid off with the exception of countries that just would not let them run their polio immunization program.

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2012, at 9:05 AM, rd80 wrote:

    Last day. Broke through $50,000 sometime last night/this morning.

    Way to go Fools!

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