campaign to watch: read a book, read a book…

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Ariah Fine

campaign and book title: Clean Water for Elirose
author: Ariah Fine
from: Minneapolis, Minn.

Father and author Ariah Fine is on a mission to teach kids who have clean water about those who don’t. To do this, he wrote a children’s book about a girl named Elirose in need of water. We caught up with him to learn more:

How did you first hear about — and then started acting on — the water crisis?

I first got involved with Blood:Water Mission, since I was living in Nashville at the time, and then Haiti Water Project, since a close friend of mine was involved with it. And then came charity: water. As a web and social media savvy guy, I loved the way that charity: water made the issue come alive in tangible media that could be conveyed over Facebook and email and YouTube, exposing thousands more to the issue I had grown passion about.

book cover

How did the water issue grab you — enough to write a children’s book about it? (And then donate all the profits from the book to water projects!)
There are a lot of global issues I’m extremely passionate about, water being just one of them.

When my daughter was born, I began mulling over how I could convey my passion about these issues in a concrete way to my children. We spend a lot of time reading books and talking with the kids and I found discussing the lack of access to water was the easiest one for the kids to understand even at a very young age (around two). So I started there.

The storyline for the book follows many conversations with my own kids and others as I’ve tried to convey both what it would be like to be without water and what kinds of tangible ways kids can help other kids who don’t have water.

Donating all the profits was a simple one. My passion for writing the book was two-fold: To inform children about the water crisis and to use the book as a fundraising tool to provide more clean water to children around the globe.

How are you raising funds through book sales? Don’t you have to pay for the book’s publishing?
I’m actually in the process of raising money for a big run of copies printed at a larger printing company to help reduce printing cost; then, I’ll sell the book to raise $5,000 for a water project. I’m hoping to reduce book printing cost from $4 to roughly $1 each.

So like you said, there’s a big emphasis on getting the book out there, not just fundraising through its sales…
Yeah, I really want to make it so others can use the book as a fundraising tool for their own campaigns.

As incentive, everyone who gives $3 towards my Kickstarter campaign gets a free copy of the book, should the project reach it’s goal. That’s pretty cheap and a good way to get this book to groups. Eventually, should I reach the goal, I’ll be able to give advance copies of the book to groups for their fundraisers. We’ll see what happens with it.

My three-year-old loves this book. He’s drawn to the bright, clean illustrations and… has connected with it strongly enough that Elirose and the actions in the book now show up in his imaginative play. It sure does this parent’s heart good to hear my child say, “Now, here’s a shovel, you start digging so Elirose can have clean water. I’ll get the money from my pop fund to pay for the well!

– a parent’s GoodReads review of Elirose

So how much have you raised for water projects by selling books?
That’s hard to quantify. A lot of books have been donated or sold to schools and faith communities at printing cost, because we wanted to get the story to kids so they could learn about the issue. Secondly, a number of books have been given to church communities, college groups, businesses, etc., for them to sell at a mark-up to fund their own water fundraising project. Since a number of these groups asked for books without being able to afford to pay upfront, I’ve given them copies and they’ll pay back the cost of the books after they’ve sold.

And then there are those who’ve bought the book directly at a price that includes a donation. We’ve sold about 100 copies at $10 donation per copy for a total of about $1,000. I was hoping to have huge success right at the beginning and raise enough for a charity: water well ($5,000) when we launched the book last September. But marketing is harder then I thought — we only raised about $115 in our first mycharity: water campaign.

Tell us about kids’ reactions to the book.
I’ve loved the reactions! I’ve begun posting them on my blog here. The surprise has been how much kids enjoy and ‘get’ the book. My kids are over three and four years old now, so they are developmentally ahead of when I first conceived of the story, but hearing two-year-olds talking about Elirose is super encouraging and exciting to me.

Have you found kids start campaigns or their own initiatives to help after reading the book?
I haven’t yet, but I’m sure they aren’t far behind. Certainly kids are talking about the story with their family and others, so that’s some what of an informal “campaign.” I haven’t heard of any kids purposefully giving up their pop money, but my kids and a few others in our neighborhood want to do a lemonade stand once the weather warms up. I really do hope a great many campaigns come from the book, though the target audience is probably under five and the ones more likely to take the initiative on the campaigns might be just over five years old. So we’ll just have to wait and see.

Tell us about your event at the elementary school… how did the kids respond? How did teachers respond?
It was a huge success. I blogged about it and a local paper did a story on it. The kids were kindergarten through second grade and they really seemed to enjoy the presentation. We watched the charity: water PSA, tried carrying a full Jerry can, saw how a water pump worked (using a camping hand pump) and read and discussed the book. The kids asked great questions, both about being an author and about water. I was also excited by the teachers responses. They do this work day in and day out and I wasn’t sure how interested they’d be in the book and lessons, but they were really engaged and had wonderful things to say about the presentation. And many bought copies of the book for their classroom.

school preso

Is this your first book about a development issue?
Yes, this is my first book, and foray into children’s books. I do hope to do more. As I grow along side my own kids I’m sure I’ll want to do some short chapter books and things to engage them on a deeper level as they get older. For now though, I’m quite happy with Clean Water for Elirose and have committed to spreading the word about it so that other parents and teachers can use it as a tool to engage the young people they read to.

Write a book. Or run, bike, bake, swim, dance… You can do anything to raise funds for clean drinking water. 100% of donations go directly to water projects in developing countries. Learn more here >

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