How water project sponsorship works

While building a water project is no simple task, we think sponsoring one should be. Here are three steps you can expect:

1

You make a donation

On average, projects start at $10,000 and can cost $25,000 or more depending on the location and project type.

Covered costs

2

We match you with a water project

A member of our team will be in touch to allocate your donation to an appropriate water project.

Example projects

3

You receive Progress Reports

The average water project takes 21+ months to complete. We’ll keep you updated along the way.

Reporting timeline

Looking to dive deeper into the details? Give this video a watch.

A tailored approach

No two communities are the same, and neither are their water solutions. That’s why our local partners carefully consider factors like geography, water availability, and culture before proposing the right solution.

Drilled wells

A drilling team drills deep into the earth to reach fresh aquifers.

Learn More

Piped systems

Networks of pipes supply clean water to community, school, or household tap stands.

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BioSand Filters

Layers of sand, gravel, and biological film remove contaminants.

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Rehabilitations

A team repairs broken projects to restore clean water to a community.

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Rainwater harvesting

Gutters on rooftops direct the flow of rainfall into a sanitary holding tank.

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Spring protections

A system captures and safely stores pure water from a natural spring.

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Featured programs

charity: water actively works in 22 countries worldwide. The featured four highlight the variety of solutions, programs, and costs across our portfolio.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world and faces both water access and water quality challenges. It is prone to flooding during the monsoon season and droughts during the dry season. The rural population primarily relies on groundwater, which has a high risk of contamination if it’s not accessed and treated correctly. Many communities also lack access to basic sanitation and proper drainage systems, which further contaminate water sources.

Meet a local partner

We’ve been working with BRAC since 2014. BRAC was founded in Bangladesh in 1972 to provide relief following Bangladesh’s war for independence. They have since evolved into the largest non-governmental organization in the world. With charity: water’s support, BRAC is currently working in the Mymensingh and Sylhet Divisions of Bangladesh. Their program installs piped water systems within schools and offers comprehensive hygiene and sanitation education.

We're funding school tap stands in Bangladesh.

Cambodia

Nearly 80% of Cambodia’s population lives in rural areas. Here, 27% of the population lacks basic access to water and 52% lacks basic access to sanitation facilities. Many people use open surface ponds and rivers that are polluted by human waste and microbial contamination as their water source, so we fund filtration systems to clean the dirty water.

Meet a Local Partner

Clear Cambodia was founded in 1999 with the goal of providing families in rural communities access to safe water, sanitation facilities, and hygiene education. We have been working together since 2009. Clear Cambodia operates the largest BioSand Filter (BSF) program in the world and implements roughly 22,000 BSFs per year. These slow-sand filters use a biological film, coarse sand, fine sand, and gravel to remove 99% of bacteria from water.

We're funding BSFs in Cambodia.

Madagascar

While Madagascar’s rich biodiversity draws environmental and conservation attention, the people who live there are often overlooked. Basic access to clean drinking water sits at just 54% throughout the country and drops to 36% in rural areas. Sanitation and hygiene access is similar. Coupled with regular floods, droughts, and cyclones, basic health and safety can be hard to come by.

Meet a Local Partner

GRET became a charity: water partner in 2019, and we are currently funding their work in the Analanjirofo, Vakinankaratra, and Atsinanana Regions. In each of these regions, GRET implements a public-private partnership model. This model splits the responsibility of operating and maintaining a piped water system between governmental officials, private operators, and community members. Once completed, the piped system brings clean water directly to community tap stands, household tap stands, and public water kiosks.

We're funding piped systems with tap stands in Madagascar.

Malawi

Malawi is one of Africa's most densely populated and least developed countries with 70% of the population living below the income poverty line. To date, they rank 174 out of 189 countries on the 2020 Human Development Index. Recent droughts and floods have destroyed already underdeveloped water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure, and approximately 35% of the rural population continues to lack access to clean drinking water.

Meet a Local Partner

We’ve been working with Water For People (WFP) Malawi since 2007. WFP is currently concentrated in the Chikhwawa and Chiradzulu Districts of Malawi. Chikhwawa is not only one of the poorest districts in the country, but its location along the Lower Shire River also makes it prone to both droughts and flooding. In comparison, Chiradzulu's hilly, rocky terrain hinders access to clean water and just 54% of the population has access to a sanitation facility.

We’re funding both new and rehabilitated wells in Malawi.

Reporting back

Sponsoring a water project is a major investment — and we want you to feel informed. From start to finish, the average project takes 21+ months to complete. You’ll receive two Progress Reports during that time as well as a Completion Report.

IMPLEMENTATION TIMELINE BEGINS

100% of your donation will be sent to our local partners in either January or July — when our implementation cycle begins. That means it may take several months for your donation to reach our partners. Once it’s received, however, they quickly get to work.

6 MONTHS

Our partners complete extensive research and prep work. They acquire permits and supplies, partner with local communities, train local caretakers, and begin water point construction.

You receive your first Progress Report!

6-12 MONTHS

Our partners continue construction work, collect midterm reports, and send us progress updates.

12 MONTHS

Our partners finish the construction and train local communities to use and maintain their water points.

You receive your second Progress Report!

12-15 MONTHS

Our partners collect photos and GPS coordinates of the completed projects and send us information about the specific communities served.

21+ MONTHS

We verify final data from our partners and prepare Completion Reports.

Time to celebrate! You receive your Completion Report.

See an example report

We prove every project

Once completed, we'll show you the water project(s) you funded with photos and GPS coordinates. Your virtual recognition will be featured on our Completed Projects Map.

See Proof

Frequently asked questions

How does charity: water determine the cost of sponsoring a project?

Twice a year, our partners submit grants with specific project costs. Our Programs Finance team closely examines these grants to ensure that they are accurate and reasonable. Project costs can vary greatly depending on technology, country, and partner organizations, but the majority of water projects are in the $10,000-$25,000 cost range.

Of course, water project costs are not usually a neatly rounded number. We promise, however, that 100% of your money will always go toward a water project. For example, if you donate $9,200 for a drilled well, but it ends up costing $800, the extra $800 will go toward another charity: water project. If the project cost ends up at $10,800, funds from other charity: water donors will cover the remainder. You will still be recognized as the project sponsor.

How do you choose which communities will receive a water project?

Each year, our local partners select the communities that will receive a water project. To make these decisions, they take factors like location, assessments of need, community engagement, presence of other organizations, and availability of spare parts or repair services into account. They also often work closely with the local government to identify target communities.

Can I choose where my donation goes?

We have specific water project opportunities available in a variety of countries. If you feel strongly about supporting a specific country or region, a member of our development team will be happy to walk you through these opportunities. Please know, however, that we are limited by the grants currently available.

Undesignated gifts will be sent to the country where your donation will make the greatest impact. These countries are selected by our experienced Water Programs team which works closely with our local partners to assess needs and opportunities.

How do you choose your local partners?

The Water Programs team identifies local partners via various WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) sector networks like Rural Water Supply Network, WASH Funders Forum, and other country-level networks and consortia. In addition, our Programs team often asks for referrals from existing partners. Once identified, our team meets with potential new partners and vets their programs and processes before formally bringing them on. We also make regular visits to our existing partners to ensure project quality and integrity.

Is the community involved in building a charity: water project?

In most programs, the community is engaged from the beginning. Our local partners prepare communities to receive a water point and often ask them to participate in some part of the construction process. For those who are able, that might look like carrying bags of cement mix, constructing BioSand Filters, or helping dig ditches for a piped system.

Our partners also typically form and train local water committees — a group of community members who are responsible for collecting water fees and maintaining the water point. Underserved or minority community members are intentionally represented on these committees.

Have you encountered challenges or delays in the past?

charity: water works in some of the most challenging environments in the world. Naturally, that means that forces beyond our control occasionally require a change of plans. The list of uncertainties we've encountered is long: governments collapse, policies change, roads get washed out, pipes break, wells come up dry, or community needs change.

No matter what happens, we promise that 100% of your donation will directly fund water project costs. In addition to progress updates, we'll inform you if the location of your sponsored project has to change. In the unlikely event that we need to totally reallocate your funds, we'll put them toward projects substantially similar to the one you chose to support in the first place. If we absolutely cannot find a suitable project in the country you had hoped to help, we'll work with you to find an alternative.

What’s included in progress reporting and why does it take 21+ months to get a Completion Report?

You’ll receive three reports throughout the 21+ month project implementation timeline. Both your first and second Progress Reports will share more information about our local partner, their programming, and their progress so far.

To set expectations, please know that your project will be part of a larger grant. Your first two reports will feature updates at the grant level. Information specific to your exact project — GPS coordinates, photos, and more — will be included in your Completion Report.

Your Completion Report is delivered to you as soon as your sponsored project is complete and all final data is received and verified. It will include the following information:

  • Community name
  • Type of water project technology used
  • GPS coordinates
  • Population served
  • Photos of the project, when available

We allow 21+ months for project implementation because we don't consider a project “complete” until we verify that all components are in place and working for the community. For example, we confirm that community trainings are complete, the water quality has been tested, and community surveys have been issued and collected. We also check the photos and GPS coordinates. All of this information is provided by our local partners and verified internally before assembling your Completion Report.

How long do water projects last?

Once a project is built, it belongs to the local community. Thanks to trainings throughout the implementation process, the community should be able to afford and manage most routine repairs. charity: water stays engaged so that if they do run into problems that are beyond their ability to address, some outside help can be arranged. Specific examples of various project life expectancies are below:

  • Drilled well with hand-pump: A drilled well, also known as a borehole, has an estimated lifespan of 20-50 years. The hand pump installed on the borehole can have a lifespan of up to 15 years when well maintained.charity: water works closely with our local partners to provide geophysical mapping of aquifers with adequate water supply. Skilled engineers on our partner staff also provide close technical oversight of drillers, ensuring use of the highest quality hand pump materials in areas where groundwater is corrosive. (For example, using stainless steel pipes instead of galvanized iron.) High-quality hardware is the first step in ensuring that a drilled well with a hand pump can achieve its maximum lifespan.

  • BioSand Filters: Concrete BSFs can last for more than 25 years. If properly installed and used, the sand and gravel do not have to be replaced. BSFs also require very little cleaning.

  • Piped systems: A piped water system with tap stands has an estimated lifespan of 10+ years when properly built and maintained. To extend a system’s lifespan, our local partners take geophysical characteristics and population growth into account. For example, population growth for the next 20 years is considered for new piped water systems. They are therefore designed to be easily expanded and extended. High-quality hardware also contributes to a system’s lifespan. Like hand pumps, most piped systems use a drilled borehole (or multiple) as their water source. Our partners are careful to use stainless steel pipes in environments with corrosive groundwater.Overall, if the system is built with high-quality materials and maintained well, piped systems have a strong likelihood of lasting beyond a decade.

Can I visit the project I funded?

While you’ll receive the GPS coordinates for your sponsored water project, many of these communities are in rural, hard-to-reach places. We rarely facilitate visits to individual projects, and we generally don’t encourage it. The primary reason is that donor trips require ample coordination with our local partners, which inevitably takes time away from building water projects.

However, in the spirit of transparency, we do occasionally coordinate international trips for members of The Well or Water Project Sponsors who have supported us for many years at a significant level.

TALK TO A

Team member

If you have additional questions, please reach out. We’d love to tell you more about Water Project Sponsorship opportunities.

Giving as:

An individual or family?

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A business?

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Ready to change everything?

When a community, school, or health clinic receives access to clean water, everything changes. Health improves. Girls don’t miss school. Parents have time to earn extra income.

It is truly one of the best investments you can make. We hope you’ll make it with us.

Sponsor a Water Project

Interested in making clean water part of your lasting legacy? Learn more about The Tributary