Matt Damon & Water.orgMike Sullivan
Nicole Wickenhauser is the Senior Communications & Development Manager at Water.org. Water.org is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization committed to providing safe drinking water and sanitation to people in developing countries.
Mike: Tell me how Water.org came about. Who founded the organization?
Nicole: Water.org traces its roots back to the founding of WaterPartners in 1990 by Gary White. In July 2009, WaterPartners merged with Matt Damon’s H2O Africa, resulting in the launch of Water.org, co-founded by Gary White and Matt Damon.
Mike: What is the overall mission and goal of Water.org?
Nicole: Water.org is a nonprofit organization that works to provide access to safe water and sanitation in the developing world. Our vision: the day when everyone in the world can take a safe drink of water. We have transformed hundreds of communities in Africa, South Asia, and Central America with access to clean water and sanitation. Last year alone, we reached 266,000 people with access to these most basic life necessities.
Mike: What are some of the projects you are currently focused on?
Nicole: We currently have active programs in Haiti, Uganda, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, and India. In 2010 we launched a tool that allows anyone to follow real-time project in several villages in Haiti. We plan to highlight other geographies in my.Water.org in the future so that people can follow the progress of programs in their area of interest and see what goes into implementing a sustainable and holistic water and sanitation project.
Mike: Matt Damon is a spokesperson for Water.org. What is his involvement in the effort?
Nicole: Matt is very involved with Water.org. Thanks to his support, countless new people know about the water issue and Water.org’s work to address it. Matt’s involvement ranges from traveling to Water.org project sites in India and Ethiopia, to talking to people about Water.org and the water crisis at the Critics Choice Awards and on shows like Letterman, to participating in meetings focusing on Water.org strategy.
Mike: Do you know how the organization came into possession of such a high quality, and fitting, premium domain name with Water.org?
Nicole: Water.org’s Executive Director and Co-Founder Gary White is a very forward-thinking person. In the early nineties, we reserved the URL www.water.org.
Mike: If readers are interested in helping or contributing in some way, what types of things can they do?
Nicole: The first thing people can do to see new and relevant opportunities to participate and stay informed is to sign up for our monthly updates: http://water.org/signup. The second way is for people to join us online to help spread the word. We post a lot dynamic information in Facebook and Twitter. We also have a lot of great videos people can watch and share on YouTube. People can learn more about the water crisis here and follow our work in real-time. And lastly, educate others; teachers can use any of our certified lesson plans.
We encourage people to share facts, videos, photos, stories, etc, with their networks or post on their blog. Together, we can make all the difference in the life of someone in need of clean water.
The third way is through creative fundraising initiatives. The efforts of our supporters are critical to providing the funding needed to conduct our programs. We have a free personal fundraising tool for individuals or groups.
We also just launched Team Water.org, a nationwide community of endurance athletes passionate about bringing safe water to those in need. If someone has a business and wants to promote our work through their product, they can learn more about a cause marketing partnership here.