secretleaders | Charity: Water: From Club Promoter To Clean Water For 11 Million People

Charity: Water: From Club Promoter To Clean Water For 11 Million People

“When have you actually been thirsty? We have water everywhere around us. There are taps, there are showers. It’s this infinite resource for most people, yet for the marginalised 10% of the world, it’s something that they’ve never known.”

Scott Harrison is a former club promoter turned CEO of Charity: Water, a hyper transparent non profit organisation that in 13 years has raised over $500 million and brought clean drinking water to 11 million people.

You’d think with these numbers under his belt Scott would be content to sit back on his laurels and congratulate his hard work. Far from it.

“Did I ever think I could raise half a billion dollars for clean water? And the real answer is 13 years later, this is a fraction of what I’d hoped we could have done. I mean, yes, it’s a lot of money, but it’s water, for crying out loud. We should be able to rally the world, clean water for humans, clean water for children. When I go to bed at night, I’m not patting myself on the back. It doesn’t feel like success. It feels like a fraction of the potential achieved.”

This strong desire to help others hasn’t always driven Scott. For 10 long years he lived (in his own words) a truly ‘degenerate, hedonistic, sycophantic lifestyle’, filling up clubs with beautiful people, taking copious amounts of drugs, smoking like a chimney and drinking like a fish, with a gambling addiction and a pornography addiction.

It all came to a head one day when he realised there was nothing redemptive about his life. So he stopped and asked himself what the opposite of his life would look like, and he thought, doing something for others.

“What if I volunteered for a charity? What if I volunteered for some sort of humanitarian mission for one year and tried to give instead of take.”

And so Scott: the second chapter began. This is an inspirational episode everyone needs to hear.

We chat about:

  • From nightclub promoter to charity founder
  • Creating a hyper transparent charity
  • The three pillars on which Charity: Water was founded
  • How he’s innovating the charity sector
  • Why apathy is his biggest challenge
  • Don’t be afraid of hard work


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The Secret Leaders podcast features interviews with key figures from the UK tech and creative ecosystem. From entrepreneurs (both early and latter stage), to journalists, VCs - and even royalty - the series profiles those who have helped shape the nation's culture of innovation and growth.

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