Scott Harrison and Jamie Tworkowski on Running a Charity

Kent Shaffer —  October 6, 2010

Scott Harrison at Catalyst Conference

Jamie Tworkowski at Catalyst Conference

For the second session of Catalyst Conference labs, Scott Harrison, founder of charity: water, and Jamie Tworkowski, founder of To Write Love on Her Arms, discussed their causes and what they’ve learned.

Jamie Tworkowski on starting a movement:

I run into young people a lot who say, “I’m going to start my own movement!” My advice is it is important to reach out to older generations to learn from them and to learn from those who have been there. You can’t be humble enough in terms of admitting what you don’t know. Don’t cut corners

Scott Harrison on starting a movement:

Do everything right in the beginning. Get good lawyers who know how to setup nonprofits. Be tenacious. Find out who is strategic to making your vision come true.

Scott Harrison on storytelling:

I feel like most successful organizations know how to tell stories. Never lose focus on the stories. Share the exciting news in people’s lives.

Scott Harrison on sustainability:

People ask how we stay sustainable. How do you stay humble? How do you keep up with the pace? Not losing the excitement in what we’re doing is going back to the field to see the wells we build.

Jamie Tworkowski on criticism:

People have criticized our model. It is difficult to quantify how we help someone who is contemplating suicide. We had to focus on talking about what we do more clearly. It took us awhile to get to a place where we can communicate that.

Scott Harrison on criticism:

We have been criticized for privately funding administrative costs and marketing that 100% of donations go to building wells. When we started, many people I spoke to did not trust charities. This model has been right for us, and we have embraced the challenge. I don’t recommend that everyone should use the 100% model. It was an answer to a question that we felt people we’re asking at the time. But it is very challenging.

Scott Harrison on failure:

One of my personal strengths is crazy ambition, but it has also hurt us. When we started, we were just trying to pull people into the vortex. But we expanded too quickly and we started two affiliates overseas that have not worked well. We got too far out in front of ourselves.

Jamie Tworkowski on failure:

I wish that we had realized early that the most important thing for us to do is get organized and find people who can help.

Jamie Tworkowski on success:

A really good day for us is a day where we feel like we are moving people. It is a day when people are being challenged, getting resources, and having their lives changed.

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Kent Shaffer

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I live in an RV with my wife and 2 kids and work with OpenChurch.com to help Christians collaborate and build a global Church library of free, open content.