Some folks are virtually apoplectic about Charity:Water's claim to donors that 100% of their donation can go to clean water projects.
It's sleight of hand! It's dishonest!
I'll grant it's something like sleight of hand. But there's nothing dishonest about it. It's smart, donor-focused marketing. It's frankly puzzling that more nonprofits don't do something like it.
Charity:Water is completely up-front about what they call their 100% Model, which says, "Hey, some people like to fund overhead. Others like to pay for water projects. Take your choice. Life is good!" (My words, not theirs.)
What's sneaky about letting donors fund their passions? Say you ran an organization that provided services to pregnant giraffes and pregnant zebras. A well-heeled donor might want to generously fund your giraffe program. Then another major donor might offer to fund your zebra program.
Because that's what they want -- and you respect and love your donors. And because doing that means you can do more of your excellent work -- and you respect and love the work your organization does.
Isn't that what Charity:Water is doing?
We live in a world where unfortunately the charity watchdogs and the media have been saying for decades overhead = waste. Shame on them all for spreading such a scurrilous lie. But many people faithfully follow that bad advice, because they don't know otherwise.
You can work around the real world we live in and find ways to bring people in by giving them what they believe they should want. Or you can hit your head against the brick wall of what people think. Charity:Water is doing the former.
Or, as Tom Ahern says at You know who beat the watchdog system at its own game?:
... it makes Charity:Water look like some kind of magician doing incredible work in a glamorous high profile way without spending donor money on anything but getting people clean drinking water for the first time.
Thus "proving" to a world that skips the details that great good can somehow come from thin air.
Isn't that a better place to be?