WaterForward - Product Stars
Best products of May 2018

WaterForward

Charity done right (viral fundraising for charity:water)

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Shaan Puri
Hunter
WaterForward was a fun project we did pro-bono at the Inferno this year. The challenge was simple - can you make a charitable site grow virally? But the solution of course proved to be a tough s.o.b. We ended up reaching about 5M people (explosive viral growth in India randomly) and raised ~$850k, with all proceeds going to charity:water. I did a writeup of the lessons learned along the way over the holiday break. It's definitely a rough/long read, but I wanted to go under the hood for those who geek out on the details ;) AMA!
Ryan Hoover
I enjoyed reading your essay this morning, @shaanvp. Excited to read more monkey stories. What's the craziest marketing/product idea you didn't end up doing with WaterForward?
Nathan Bashaw
@ShaanVP cool project, thanks for sharing! The idea of getting people to click a lot and hear a story is awesome, and reminds me a lot of http://superhuman.io My gripe is this: the two conversion steps of the funnel (sharing and paying) felt unnecessarily clumsy. Why can't I just type in some people's email addresses? Why do I have to connect with gmail? Why do I have to fill in so much information on the credit card form? http://cl.ly/T7G9 Not to be overly critical - overall I think this is an awesome project and definitely worthy of it's success. It's just the product designer in me kinda cringed at the most critical two steps feeling a bit unwieldy
Shaan Puri
Hunter
@rrhoover - craziest marketing/product idea... here's a few we had: A celeb-it-forward campaign. Basically, we would make a 1-click way to tweet at a celeb with a huge following who could help us spread the word. That way the twitter stream gets filled with "Hey Ellen, we need YOU to help us solve the water crisis!! + link", and eventually the celebrity tweets it forward to their mass audience. The viral potential was there, but we didn't feel great about the celebrity worship angle - it took attention off the cause.
Shaan Puri
Hunter
@nbashaw I hear ya - we trialled a sickening # of versions of that portion of the flow. RE: Sharing with friends In the end, it's a #s game. By putting a harsh wall (connect your address book), you turn away MOST people...but a few people who are really motivated do it anyways - and they have over a thousand contacts, so the net viral gain is larger RE: Payments This form is pretty crappy - we definitely could have done better.
Ryan Hoover
@shaanvp the celeb angle is clever but I'm glad you decided against it. Feels slimy and doesn't align with the altruistic narrative you're writing. I don't know much about charities but from what I've heard, the majority of giving come from repeat donors. Are you planning to reignite the campaign with previous givers or transfer that audience to a different cause? If so, how?
Shaan Puri
Hunter
@rrhoover two things: 1. Yes, the majority of donations come from repeat donors. That's good (retention) and bad (it's a crutch - non profits keep going to a pool that doesn't grow). That's why we wanted to do waterforward, to see if we can create a new renewable donor base. 2. Users of WaterForward opt-in to a mailing list for charity:water who will continue to re-engage the users. They do a great job of this in general of re-marketing (eg. they send you pics + GPS from the field that your $20 donation went to)
Kevin Li
this is amazing
Kevin Li
i churned out after the pay via paypal =(
was a social media project by charity: water and the Monkey Inferno, Inc to raise awareness of the water crisis and give millions of people the ability to let their friends know, donate and help solve the water crisis.
The story about Jean Bosco has been shared with 6,344,435 people! Thank you!
  • charity: water is a non-profit organization bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing countries. 100% of all public donations directly fund water projects, and charity: water proves every dollar using photos and GPS coordinates on a map.learn more about charity: water
  • The monkey inferno is a personal incubator. A place where we dream up cool internet projects , develop them, then nurture them into successful businesses. learn more about the Monkey Inferno