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“Vision without action is a lost dream”: How multi-year giving allows us to dream big!

Wednesday, October 11th, 2023

No one can see the future. But with water availability for billions of people on the line, we at The Water Project (TWP) are always trying to do just that, as a forward look means more people get clean water sooner. And you, as a donor, can be more helpful with this than you may realize.

As a nonprofit, we work hard to show that our donors’ money is impactful in our hands. The best way we can do this is through our three pillars: reliability, relationship, and trust — but for this scenario, let’s focus on reliability. 

We try to be reliable for everyone we work with: donors, community members, employees, contractors, government officials, and everyone else striving to get clean water to people who need it.

“Our core value (reliability) is about much more than hardware,” said Peter Chasse, founder and CEO of The Water Project. “We work hard to rely on one another, and we invite donors to be a part of that as well. Knowing that donations are intended year after year allows us to plan, to consider growth, to make investments that might take a year or five to ‘pay off.’”

Our ability to plan for how many communities, schools, and medical clinics we can serve in the coming weeks, months, and years relies — almost solely — on your donations. And as nice as it would be to have a crystal ball to tell us how many donations will come in, hearing it directly from our supporters in the context of relationships is so much better!

You might wonder then, how do we plan? Simply said, we look at historical giving and make assessments on what we expect giving levels will be in the coming year. And while that works, it can be stronger. One way our supporters can help us reach families in need of clean water sooner is to share what their giving intentions are. 

We love to hear the passion from our supporters on this mission with us. When our donors also share what they can expect to give for the next three to five years, it is not only an honor to hear how they are approaching their philanthropy, but it gives us added clarity — and more strength in our ability to move clean water! 

Did you know that 50% of US households give annually, but it’s not always to the same organization? The Water Project’s donors are passionate about the water crisis and its effect on the 2 billion people living without safe water. When donors harness that passion and share it with us through multiple-year giving, it is an incredible statement of trust and relationship, and one that The Water Project takes as a great expression of confidence in the work we are doing. 

When considering year-over-year giving, our Board Chairperson Todd Bourgeois’s first thought was the people The Water Project employs.  

“While we appreciate every single gift at The Water Project, multi-year gift-givers are such a blessing,” Todd said.

“As with any industry, qualified and capable team members look for year-over-year workplace stability when choosing where they will pursue their careers. This challenge for our teams in Africa is as real as it is here in the United States. At the same time, we hold in tension our desire to spend an appropriate level of our precious donor dollars to create new water points every year while keeping a mindful eye on being able to maintain the highest level of sustainable water points already operational.”

This balance that Todd mentions is tricky for decision-makers like him. The more donations we can be reasonably certain of receiving throughout a given year, the better.

“Multiyear advanced confidence in funding levels absolutely helps eliminate the kind of knee-jerk operational moves that may be considered volatile by many measures from our teams and ultimately the associates they work so hard to retain.”

We take great care in our planning, keeping in mind our impact on all these groups of people we listed above — and the hundreds of thousands of people already depending on us.

“Multi-year gift-giving intentions are so important and can help smooth out the unexpected expense impacts of conducting normal business while signaling consistent confidence in the future for our partners in Africa,” Todd continued.

“Strategically, as a Board of Directors, we are always ready to help support and advise on any future work that enables the vision of The Water Project to advance and maximize donor contributions. However, vision without multiyear funding confidence can, on occasion, cause the unintended consequence of stagnating [our] willingness to engage in advanced planning requirements or even stifle calculated risk-taking to advance the very important visions of the organization. 

“Vision without action is a lost dream. Multi-year giving provides a runway for The Water Project and its Board to dream big [for] a better tomorrow for those most in need.”

As you consider your giving for this year and the next, we invite you to consider sharing your intentions with us! We know there are no guarantees in life, but it is empowering to make plans toward things that we value, and share those plans with others. Our Philanthropy team would welcome a phone call or email. Feel free to reach out to us at our main office number, 603-369-3858, or email our Philanthropy team at [email protected]. We’d be honored to hear from you!

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Jamie Heminway

Jamie is a storyteller by nature. In joining the Water Project, she’s finally found a workplace where that pesky bleeding heart of hers can be put to use (and, less importantly, that BA in English Language & Literature from New England College).