Want to have your picture in the book that brings clean water to 1 billion people? All you have to do is pay it forward to someone – $10 for clean water projects. The catch? You need to know someone who is already in the book and who will pay it forward to you. Think that sounds a bit strange and you’re skeptical? Here’s why I think it’s a great idea – but first: for the time-constrained ones: go to Waterforward.org and see whether you know somebody who’s already in the book who will pay it forward to you with a $10 donation to charity: water – one of the largest non-profits dedicated to solving the water crisis.

The idea is simple and not new in its basic principle – some might remember it from the movie “Pay it forward” but in fact it goes as far back as ancient Greece.  You do someone a favor and in exchange a 3rd one gets the favor returned. Or in the case of waterforward: You donate $10 to clean water projects in the name of someone else – who again will hopefully do the same. The twist: you can only pay it forward if someone put you “in the book”, means already paid it forward to you.

Something, I found rather strange at first after a bit of reflecting think is a great idea. It perfectly uses the power of twitter’s and facebook’s social graph, it has all the potential to go viral in a super-effective way, employs the exclusivity element for something good, and puts a bit of social pressure on paid-forward people to continue the spark of forward reciprocity.

The best about it? charity: water really seems to be a trustworthy, remarkable movement. Founded 5 years ago, the non-profit has private sponsors such as Gary Vaynerchuck, Edward Norton, Jack Dorsey, Jason Fried or Kevin Rose who enable the organization to operate and forward the full 100% of public donations to clean water projects. More info?

  • 100% of public donations go to the projects: apparently even the credit card fees are sponsored
  • Want to see all the projects they’ve completed so far? Here’s their maps
  • Want to know how exactly the donations are spent? Here’s the complete history of dollars spent
  • Want to have a look at their financials? Here’re the open books

Finally, watch this video why clean water is not only about something to drink but much more: