charity: water

“With iPad, I have all my projects, my lists, my tasks, my email, and my calendar in one place. And I’m still connected to the office wherever I go.”

Lane Wood, Development Officer
charity: water

Humanitarian mission meets innovative technology.

When Scott Harrison founded charity: water in 2006, he took on a colossal mission: bringing clean, safe drinking water to the world. With one billion people in need of help, the numbers were daunting — but Harrison was inspired to challenge the odds. He also pledged to use a groundbreaking charity model in which 100% of public donations would fund projects, not operations.

To meet these ambitious goals, Harrison knew he’d need the help of highly innovative technology. He turned to iPad.

Handheld Storytelling

Like most charitable organizations, charity: water needs to raise money. And to do that, Harrison must connect emotionally with prospective donors. So when making a presentation, he shows photos and videos of charity: water’s international projects — images that make a big impact when displayed on iPad.

“In a 30-minute donor pitch, I show 175 photos and videos,” he says. “It’s awkward to set up a laptop on the table in an upscale restaurant. With iPad, it feels more like sharing. I can hand my iPad to another person and let them move through a presentation at their own pace. It’s a whole new level of intimacy around storytelling.”

Recently Harrison found himself making an impromptu pitch using iPad in the back of a taxi. “I flew back from a presentation in Mexico City and ran into someone I hadn’t seen in four years,” he says. “We shared a cab back to New York, and the next thing you know, I’m giving the presentation on iPad. She was so moved that she instantly made a pledge to request donations instead of birthday presents for her 50th birthday.”

And iPad is just as effective in the boardroom. “When I go to a meeting or a conference to speak, iPad is incredibly easy to bring along,” says Development Officer Lane Wood. “It’s the size of a book, and it plugs into a VGA adapter, which is usually in the boardroom or conference hall already. I just hook it up and I’m ready to go.”

Presentations Plus

In an organization that relies so heavily on great-looking presentations, Keynote presentation software is essential. It’s also a pleasure to use on iPad. “I love how it allows me to seamlessly move from photos to videos and back,” Harrison says.

Creative Director Viktoria Harrison considers iPad an ideal way to display her carefully crafted presentations. “In the Keynote app, it’s amazing how crisp the fonts look,” she says. “The colors look exactly how we intended them to. And the photography — it’s so colorful and clear and personal. There’s this feeling that you’re right there.”

For meetings, she also uses the Notes app on iPad. “iPad is really great in a meeting setting,” she says. “It’s not intrusive. You can still make eye contact with people, and you’re not creating a visual barrier. It’s a great way to take notes and still be present at the meeting.”

Apps for Good

Scott Harrison and his staff have delved into the App Store with enthusiasm. Among their favorite apps is Square, which allows them to swipe credit cards and process secure transactions right on iPad.

Harrison explains: “A donor says, ‘I’m excited; how do I help?’ And you say, ‘You can take out your credit card right now, and I’ll mail you the receipt.’ It’s great because it turns a meaningful conversation into action.”

Twitter is important to charity: water’s efforts to build awareness, and they track their account on iPad. “We have over 1.3 million followers, and we use the TweetDeck app to monitor our account,” says Harrison. “It’s great to see what people are saying about us and what kinds of questions they have. We’ve even had requests for meetings that develop into relationships.”

Pocket Productivity

Wood initially viewed iPad as a presentation device, but now uses it for much more. “It lets me detach from my computer,” he says. “It’s really small and portable. With iPad, I have all my projects, my lists, my tasks, my email, and my calendar in one place. And I’m still connected to the office wherever I go.”

Wood also uses iPad for almost every aspect of his work-related travel. “With the Kayak application, I can book flights,” he says. “And as I travel, I use iBooks and Zinio to download books and magazines. I can even do it on the plane while we’re waiting at the gate. By the time we taxi, I’m ready to go.”

“iPad is helping us to fulfill our mission of bringing safe drinking water to the world,” says Harrison. “It’s a pivotal part of our business which in the end – is saving lives all around the globe.”

Company Snapshot

  • Based in New York, NY
  • 25 employees
  • Charity: water currently works in 17 countries in sub-Saharan Africa as well as Cambodia, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Haiti, and Honduras.
  • www.charitywater.org

iPad as sketch pad

With iPad, the cocktail napkin sketch has moved into the digital world. “Our design team is very visual,” says Creative Director Viktoria Harrison. “And we like to draw diagrams to explain things. So when we’re out at a coffee shop and we need to sketch something, we have an app called Penultimate that allows us to do that. You just use your finger as a pen and draw on the iPad.”

“I can hand my iPad to another person and let them move through a presentation at their own pace. With iPad, it feels more like sharing.”

Scott Harrison, Founder,
charity: water


“With iPad, I have all my projects, my lists, my tasks, my email, and my calendar in one place. And I’m still connected to the office wherever I go.”

Lane Wood, Development Officer,
charity: water

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charity: water Humanitarian mission meets innovative technology.

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