Want the recipe for becoming New York’s hottest cause? First, find a need. Add an intuitive business plan with social media savvy. Mix in a party-boy-makes-good founding story with a dash of celebrity. To finish, just add water.
Charity: Water brings those elements together with a panache that is rarely seen in the oft-dull world of 501(c)(3)s. Their mission statement as explained on charitywater.org isn’t all that different than your average non-profit. “We’re not offering grand solutions and billion dollar schemes, but instead, simple things that work. Things like freshwater wells, rainwater catchments and sand filters. For about $20 a person, we know how to help millions of people.”
A worthy cause, to be sure, but cause alone isn’t what’s getting people excited about being involved with founder Scott Harrison’sorganization. As he explained at the group’s fourth annual holiday ball, “We have the 100% model, where we give away 100% of the money we raise publicly. We’re going to go find other people to go pay for staff, pay for paperclips, pay for offices, and all the things that the normal public doesn’t want to pay for.” Seeing the excitement already, right? Twenty dollars from your wallet really does twenty dollars worth of good for a person across the globe. Donors love it.
The charismatic Harrison came to the field of international development from a very different world- professional nightclub and event promotion. As it turns out, having a gift for rallying people and throwing a killer party can be used for good as well as, er, not so good. The expertise showed at Monday’s ball at Chelsea’s Metropolitan Pavilion. 1,200 attendees definitely agreed: Scott Harrison gets New York parties. Good snacks, great drinks, live music, and, of course, a celebrity host. Enter Adrian Grenier.
“You can rest assured that if you give your money to Charity: Water it goes directly to helping people. Not only that, but you can actually watch, through the internet, your well being built. You can see pictures, you can build a social network that actually keeps you more in touch, that can help you if you give a donation.”
The Entourage star is well-informed both about Charity: Water and environmentalism in general. “If you really want to know what’s going on with the environment, you read financial newspapers. The environment is directly affected by business. When business develops or breaks apart, in one way or the other it’s going to affect the environment…. In order to get government excited or get government motivated, you see how companies are really influencing it, one way or the other. (Laughs) Not that I’m smart enough to really understand any of it! But I try.”
False modesty? Perhaps, because he certainly seems to get it. Most likely Grenier is savvy enough to know that celebrities often aren’t taken seriously about their causes if they’re too pushy.
To finish, a little catnip for the Brooklyn bloggers out there (Looking at you, Fucked in Park Slope – fuckedin parkslope.com Grenier is a member of the famous Park Slope Food Coop, meaning he must work one shift a month at the famous grocery store to stay in good standing.
“I am a member of the food coop, and my status is always on alert, because I’m always working hard. I work a 5:30 AM shift. Highly recommended. You’re in sort of a sleep-like state, so it goes by like kind of a dream. I do stocking and inventory.”
See More Photos on Page 2 or in the Scallywag Photo Gallery.