One of my favorite organizations is charity: water, founded by Scott Harrison. First and foremost, the organization changes lives by bringing clean water to people who desperately need it. Underneath that, I’ve always admired charity: water for the way they use excellent communication to spread a world-changing cause. 

It’s at this time every year that the charity: water team launches a new September Campaign, a targeted effort to accomplish something significant in a specific region of the world. In honor of the launch of this year’s campaign, let’s take a very basic look at some of the communication strategy employed by this amazing team and why it works. 

First, it starts with an email. 

Their email list, which I’m sure is massive, is a permission marketing asset they’ve cultivated over the years through excellence, trust, and intentionality. If you don’t have a group of people who want to hear from you, you’re going to have a hard time sharing your message with them. Even though I know what the September Campaign is, charity: water reached out to me directly to tell me about the launch rather than assuming I’d discover it on my own or via social media. Social gets all the hype, but email still works. 

Second, the email is simple.

The email I received yesterday (here’s a screenshot) features a simple header, a compelling graphic, 58 words of copy, and a single call to action: “Watch the Video.” That’s all. No cluttered corral of featured stories and product ads and upcoming events. Just those four simple elements. Simple wins. 

Third, the landing page tells a story. 

The text, images, and video work together beautifully to tell a compelling story of both struggle and hope. There is suffering, but relief is possible. There is a great need, but there’s also a great opportunity to intervene. Sure, there are facts and figures involved, but they serve to supplement the narrative. Remember, story connects and compels where data can’t.

Fourth, the goal is clear.

They want to make life in the Sahel better for the people who live there — specifically, women who risk their lives to get water. That’s it. To do that, charity: water is trying to raise $4 million in September, which will go straight to providing clean water for 100,000 people in the region. The goal isn’t a vague dream or a warm feeling — it’s real, it’s concrete, it’s simple, it’s clear. 

Fifth, you’re invited into the story.

The call to action on the September Campaign page is NOT a “Donate Now” button. Sure, they’d love for you to make a one-time donation, but charity: water’s sights are set higher than that. The call to action is “Start a Campaign.” They don’t want you to be a donor, they want you to be an advocate, a storyteller in your circles and spheres of influence. You’re invited into this story of suffering and hope in the Sahel, and that’s the ultimate connection between an organization and it’s audience. 

Like I said, excellent. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a lot to learn from charity: water.