A September Thank You

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in charity: water, Life | Posted on 18-11-2010


I’ve written a lot here about the charity: water September campaign, and also the importance of saying thanks.

Back in September I shared an email I sent to close friends about the campaign, and I wanted to share another email I sent to my mates to thank them for their support.

The September campaign is a resounding success – we have nearly $1 million raised from our targeted campaigns and the lift in fundraising through the campaign has put us in a great position to fulfill our $1.7 million pledge to give access to clean water to all the Bayaka.

This note relates to my personal birthday campaign, and a thank you to those friends and family who helped me and my mates raise over $6,000.

And it’s not too late for you to join in – we’ve got two days left on our campaign and I’d love any extra contributions: http://mycharitywater.org/93rd

G’day G’day,

It’s a pleasure to be able to write this email to say thank you to you for your support of charity: water and the birthday campaign Alex Kallman, Shashi Khemlani and I put together for our September birthdays. We’re sending this email to all who donated or otherwise supported our efforts.

Our campaign closes in 3 days and thanks to your generous donations we CRUSHED our goal of $5,000: http://mycharitywater.org/93rd

To date we’ve raised $6,284 which will allow charity: water to bring clean and safe drinking water to 314 people in Central African Republic. Passing $5,000 (the average cost of a project) also means that we’ll have a water project with our names on it built over the next 12 months and we’ll be able to report back to you with GPS coordinates and photos of the well you helped us fund.

To see a detailed breakdown of where your money will go, check out the attached infographic. And to really understand the impact you have helped us make please visit charitywater.org/september and check out the 3 videos of the ‘live drill’ from the field in early September. My team at charity: water think it’s some of the most compelling content we’ve put together

If you’re a New Yorker, we hope you can attend the charity: ball on December 13 alongside the three of us. It’s a huge annual gala hosted by Adrian Grenier of Entourage. Also in attendance is Jim Hocking, the founder of our partner ICDI in Central African Republic, so you’ll be able to meet the guy you’re helping to fund.

Details and tickets for charity: ball here: http://charitywater.org/charityball

Again, on behalf of Shashi, Alex and I, thank you so much for helping us change the lives of several hundred people this September.


Paull Young

Humans as Infrastructure

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in charity: water, Internet, Life | Posted on 22-10-2010


Seth Godin raved about  Kevin Kelly’s new book What Technology Wants so I ordered it and got stuck into it today.

The book focuses on the benefits technology has brought society, and this paragraph from chapter 1 struck me deeply:

As Lynn White, historian of technology wrote,

“The chief glory of the later Middle Ages was not its cathedrals or its epics or its scholasticism: it was the building for the first time in history of a complex civilization which rested not on the backs of sweating slaves or coolies but primarily on non-human power.”

A beautiful sentiment, and it is great that technology has played a role in replacing man-labor and freeing up our time for higher level pursuits… well at least if you live in the developed world.

This statement couldn’t help but jar against what I read on blogging on water’s Blog Action Day post, Stop Using Girls as Infrastructure:

Stop using girls as infrastructure. When we create proper infrastructures – build roads, install electricity and clean watergirls won’t need to be used as infrastructure any longer. Today they function as the electric grid as they carry firewood, plumbing system as they carry water, childcare system, etc.

Couldn’t agree more. Too often around the world women and girls are used as water (and all too often wastewater) infrastructure instead of being given the opportunity to be educated and become productive members of society.

Technology is a beautiful thing. And we’re lucky we live in the part of the world where we can play Angry Birds to our hearts content, not the part where we have to send our women and children on grueling daily walks for water.

Blog Action Day: Water

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in charity: water, Current Affairs, Life | Posted on 15-10-2010


Today is Blog Action Day, an annual event where thousands of bloggers around the world lend their voice to one topic – and this year that topic is water.

Why Water? This is a question I frequently answer working with charity: water.

The stats are compelling:

  • 1 billion people don’t have access to clean and safe drinking water
  • 4,5000 children die every day due to lack of access to clean water and basic sanitation
  • More people die each year because of water and sanitation issues than all forms of violence, including war

But it’s hard to grasp these numbers. When people ask me why they should care, I try to show them something like this instead.

Please take a minute to watch this video my team filmed in Central African Republic last month with a Bayaka woman given the gift of clean water after previously losing a child in its absence.

Will you lend your voice to water today?

Delivering Happiness: Non-Profit Perspective

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Business, charity: water, Internet, Life, Marketing | Posted on 13-10-2010


I try not to read too many business books. I have a constant stream of business info heading my way via Google Reader and Twitter. And any time I’m reading a business book I always think I’m missing out on working through the classics or another piece of great fiction that might extend my world view.

So it’s rare I’ll really enjoy a business book. It’s even rarer one will instantly produce a significant shift in my thinking. Delivering Happiness by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh managed to do both.

Reading Tony Hsieh's 'Delivering Happiness' on the bus to work - seems fitting right @dhbus?

Tony Hsieh and Zappos are renowned for their approach to customer service and company culture. Delivering Happiness looks at both through the frame of Tony’s personal experience and outlines the core thinking that led to Zappos eventual billion dollar acquisition by Amazon.

As I read Tony’s story I found more and more similarities with my work at charity: water, and also got a glimpse of how our organization can take a Zappos approach to charity and change the world while we’re at it.

We deliver clean water to developing nations, Zappos delivers shoes to westerners – how could there be a link?

It boils down to this: all online shoe vendors are basically the same. It’s not a sexy business, nor groundbreaking. The point of differentiation for Zappos is in making customers go ‘WOW’ and sparking a deep relationship with the brand. In practice this looks like:

– Free shipping for deliveries AND returns
– A real person on the phone, every time
– Upgrades when possible to next day delivery
– Most importantly, a deeply held commitment to doing right by the customer

As a non-profit charity: water doesn’t necessarily have ‘customers’. And we don’t have a ‘customer service’ department. But we’ve got something even more important: donors, fundraisers and supporters.

The question for me is how can we build a culture that can deliver that WOW factor to all of them. What is the equivalent, for a non-profit, of free shipping and next day delivery of a pair of shoes?

In the case of charity: water – it’s reporting.

We already focus on this more than most – we send 100% of donations to the field and we’ve always marked every water project we’ve built on Google Maps to prove the impact. And it’s right here, the connection AFTER our donors have committed funds, when we can ‘deliver happiness’ to our supporters unlike any other cause, and in doing so turn them into lifelong fans.

The biggest adjustment for now: ‘reporting’ has moved to the core of our digital strategy (headlined with a phrase stolen from Zappos: ‘Deliver WOW through service’). And here is an example of how reporting can WOW – check out this video we made Will and Jada Smith to show them the well they funded (they’ve since become two of our biggest supporters).

For now, grab yourself a copy of Delivering Happiness and have a read. In the meantime, check out this video featuring the Delivering Happiness crew visiting our office at charity: water last month:

And for one final piece of happiness for you – leave a thoughtful comment and I’ve got a copy of Delivering Happiness on hand that I’d be most happy to send to my favorite commenter.

A September Birthday Story

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in charity: water, Internet, Life | Posted on 13-09-2010


Below is the text of an email I sent to close friends and family regarding the charity: water september campaign and my own fundraising efforts.

Hi guys,

Sending this email to a bunch of people who I consider closest to me – so sorry for the group send, but you’re on a special shortlist. It’s one week to my birthday, and I wanted to share a story with you.

As you know, several months ago I started working for a pretty special non-profit called charity: water – joining their team after being a long time supporter. We provide clean and safe drinking water in the developing world, and have a model whereby 100% of public donations reach water projects (by funding our operations from a different budget – we even pay back credit card fees!).

Every September we do a huge campaign to solve a special issue. We ask people to ‘give up their birthdays’ and raise money instead. This was how I first met the charity two years ago, and this year I’ve been tasked with managing the whole campaign.

This year we’re trying to raise enough money to provide access to clean and safe drinking water to an entire native group in Central African Republic, the Bayaka people. These are people at the bottom of the barrel – they are the bottom of society in C.A.R., which is one of the very poorest places on the planet. I’ve made firm friends with our partner there Jim Hocking, an American who was born in CAR, lived there all his life and his non-profit ICDI is the only organization there digging wells.

Watch our trailer video to see Jim, the Bayaka, my boss Scott and what we are trying to do:

charity: water 2010 September Campaign: Clean Water for the Bayaka from charity: water on Vimeo.

So every year on our anniversary we ‘live drill’ from the field. This year, it was to be at a town called Moale in the jungle of C.A.R. that Jim has tried to build a well at twice in the past. 16 years ago a hand dug well failed at 100 feet when the villagers could dig no longer without oxygen. Then Jim tried to dig again with a drill rig, but that failed when they ran out of drill stem at 500 feet. This year we were going to try again… but we knew we ran the risk of failure.

It didn’t go as we expected. This is the video from our anniversary, that we had hoped was a celebration for the people of Moale:

Live Drill – No water for our birthday in Central African Republic from charity: water on Vimeo.

The good news: the very next day we were able to visit another nearby village and dig again.

A much happier video this time:

Live Drill Day 2 – We Hit Water! from charity: water on Vimeo.

And, today (just hours ago) my coworkers uploaded another really moving video from this village (I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you it brought a tear):

Day 3 – Live Drill Finale – September Campaign 2010 from charity: water on Vimeo.

I shared this because it’s important to me, and as I care about you I wanted to share with you the story of the Bayaka. And, to ask for a birthday present :)

If you feel inspired by the story of the Bayaka (or, you just like me and/or are worried I’ll annoy you :)), you can donate to my very own birthday campaign here:


100% of donations will reach C.A.R. and help the Bayaka. We’re trying to raise $5,000 which would allow us to put a plaque with our names on a well. If so, I’ll be able to show you GPS coordinates and photos of our well.

If you can’t donate – just spread the word :), forward this email on to people who know me or people who you think might be interested if you pleased – every little bit helps!

I hope all of you are well! And please raise a beer for me on September 18 – ESPECIALLY if you’re in Australia and it’s a REAL beer.



Talking Clean Water on FOX News

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in charity: water, Internet, Life | Posted on 27-08-2010


FOX News Strategy Room Lineup Yesterday

Unfortunately I didn’t get to hang in the green room with the last two!

Check it out here

And no, I don’t know where ‘hunky-dory’ came from.

Launching the September Campaign

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in charity: water, Internet, Life, Marketing | Posted on 16-08-2010


I’m extremely proud of my team at charity: water today as we launch our annual September campaign – an online movement to raise $1.7 million for Central African Republic in order to provide access to clean and safe drinking water to the Bayaka people.

Since 2007 charity: water has asked people to give up their birthday and ask for donations instead of gifts, with 100% of money raised directed to water projects. This was how I first met the charity, donating my September birthday back in 2008.

This year is our biggest campaign yet. My coworkers at charity: water have been doing work that is nothing short of amazing. In addition, Razorfish and Golin Harris have donated time, energy and brain power pro bono to help our campaign along – I’ve been incredibly impressed by the smarts of our agency team.

We need your help to spread the word. Please spend a few minutes to watch our campaign video, and then I have 3 asks for you.

Give Up Your September Birthday

Are you born in September? Then please give up your birthday and fundraise with us. 100% of donations will fund clean and safe drinking water projects in C.A.R. (we even pay back the credit card fees).

Not born in September? You can still fundraise!


$20 gives one person clean water in C.A.R., donate at charitywater.org/september.

Donate Your Facebook Status

The good folk at Buddy Media have donated us their platform, so on the charity: water Facebook page you can send virtual jerry cans, do a quiz on C.A.R. and see more videos and photos. Every day we’ll be posting a behind-the-scenes video from the field that only fans will be able to see.

Help us spread the word of September, the Bayaka and charity: water on Facebook by posting this video to your Facebook status:


September is Central African Republic

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in charity: water, Current Affairs, Internet, Life, Marketing | Posted on 09-08-2010


charity: water was born in September – and every year in September we ask our community to fundraise together with us to make a huge impact.

This year, we will be raising $1.7 million for Central African Republic to provide clean and safe drinking water to 85,000 people – including ALL of the Bayaka people.

The campaign launches August 16. If you’re birthday is between August 16 and September 30 please get in touch! I’d love you to donate your birthday alongside us. If you’re not in that window you can still spread the word. For starters, like us on Facebook for exclusive access to info and content, and right now check out a sneak peak of this year’s September story:

september campaign teaser from charity: water on Vimeo.

Why Central African Republic? Check this snippet from a recent Foreign Policy report:

Over the last year, we led a research team that conducted perhaps the most extensive survey on the impact of violence on the Central African Republic’s population. The results, which will be published in the Aug. 4 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, reveal a country besieged by violence and extreme poverty. We asked 1,879 adults in five administrative areas of the country about their lives, their security, and their experience with conflict. More than three-quarters said they had either witnessed or personally experienced traumatic events during the wave of violence that began in 2001, and more than half met criteria for depression or anxiety. The monthly death rate was five per 1,000 individuals (in the United States it is 0.7; the average for sub-Saharan Africa is 1.3). Put another way, 6 percent of the country’s population is dying every year.

More to come next week.

You can help. The people of Central African Republic need you. If your birthday falls between August 16 and September 30 then I want you!

For more background on September, check out last year’s trailer:

The story of charity: water – The 2009 September Campaign Trailer from charity: water on Vimeo.

Fixing Your iPhone and Apple Customer Service

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Business, Humour, Life, Marketing | Posted on 08-07-2010


I’ve been an iPhone user for three years, and like many iPhone owners I’ve cracked my screen (twice). And also like many iPhone owners I’ve had many a horrible experience with Apple and ATT’s arrogant approach to customers.

I knew that the Apple store would charge me an arm and a leg, despite the fancy decor and Genius Bars. So I typed ‘fix iPhone’ into Yelp and found Dr Brendan near me in the East Village who would fix it for $60.

I entered his small East Village apartment to find a bunch of people lining up, two friendly blokes fixing phones and a phone ringing off the hook. To my surprise they’d been featured on CNN today and a legion of similarly disaffected Apple customers had found salvation.

The bigger story here: can a brand like Apple really get away with treating its customers so badly they’ve created a black market in customer service? Dr Brendan’s service was great, but I must admit climbing four flights of steps to a small East Village apartment had me feeling like I was doing a drug deal.

The quote to sum it all up comes from one of Dr Brendan’s other customers today, a hospital employee with a cracked screen:

“Apple’s a total asshole to me. The one time I went in there I scheduled an appointment, you have to wait, they tell you they can’t fix it…”

My advice – if you’re in NYC with a cracked screen or other issue see Dr Brendan. If you’re in the market for an iPhone: buy something else.

Julia Gillard: Australia’s First Female PM

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Australia, Internet, Life | Posted on 24-06-2010


Tonight I swung by a great geek dinner hosted by my good friend Amanda Rose and new friend Azita Ardakani, but was incredibly distracted by a historic moment breaking down at home: The appointment of Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.

Now I voted for the man she replaced, Kevin Rudd, and while it was just words his ‘sorry‘ to Australia’s aboriginals delivered a high point for me in my nation’s politics. It’s also a little disappointing she was appointed by backroom manouvering, rather then at the forefont of a national election. Still, I think she’s a remarkable woman and I’m proud to call her the leader of my country.

Interesting from an online standpoint: I first found out this was going on via Twitter at 7am NYC time as news of the #spill started breaking. However by 7pm NYC when the votes were being cast Twitter was having issues, so I dumped their service in favor of Google live search updates. Whatever the service though, once again it was great to be part of a huge moment back home thanks to the power of the Internet.

Bonus: Mumbrella has an image of the souvenir front page of Sydney’s Daily Telegraph:

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