“And of course as an organization we want to attract younger people into it and make sure that as time goes on that NAHAD is a big part of what goes on in our industry.”
When he first brought up the idea to the NAHAD Board of Directors, some thought it was a crazy idea, saying that this wasn't the type of initiative the association should undertake. But a task group was formed with four or five members on it, to investigate the idea.
At first they didn't really know what they wanted to support, Reilly said. Two things the group looked at was finding an organization where perhaps NAHAD members could donate products as well as money, and it also wanted a charity with a global focus.
It was agreed that one of the biggest needs around the world is clean water, and hose assemblies can have a place in projects designed to help solve the problem. “We just recognized that water was something everyone has a need for,” he said. “It's a worldwide issue, and we could have an impact there.”
Molly Mullins, who joined NAHAD earlier this year as associate executive director, was tasked with evaluating potential charities for the association. She looked at about eight or nine water-related non-profits, and eventually the group decided on charity: water, which was highly rated by Charity Navigator and has an interesting business model.
“They're a relatively new charity,” Mullins said. “They use 100 percent of public donations to directly support water projects. They pay for salaries and overhead by completely different private donations that are earmarked for that.”
For 2014, the charity had a budget of $43.4 million, according to NAHAD. Since its inception, it has implemented more than 20,000 clean water projects.
The $10,000 goal was chosen as that is the threshold to implement a project in a country with the most need. “What we're doing is raising those funds and charity: water lets us know where that project is being implemented,” she said. “It takes about 24 months from start to finish to be able to be used by the people who live there.”
Every project is different, depending on the need, Mullins added. It could be anything from implementing well drilling to constructing water filtration and sanitation systems.
“They work in world communities that have never had access to clean water,” she said. “In some communities there are individuals who are literally walking eight to nine miles a day to bring back water to their families. Instead of using that time to create businesses or go to school, they're using that time to get water.”
The organization estimates that one in 10 people worldwide—or about 663 million—don't have access to clean water. “What charity: water does is evaluate these type of communities and figures out which system works best for that location, then uses dollars it raises to implement that on the ground,” Mullins said.
While NAHAD members originally hoped to donate products as well, Mullins said the charity likes to use locally sourced goods to help business development in the region.
NAHAD raised almost $5,000 at its convention, and it has set the end of the year as the target to reach or exceed its goal, according to the online donation page set up for the project.
“If each member company just donated $20, we'd reach our $10,000 donation,” Mullins said. “I just spent $11 on a sandwich and latte at Starbucks. We don't think about it that way, but every little dollar adds up.”
While there was some resistance at first, Reilly said he has had positive feedback since. “It's a great opportunity, and its exciting that as an organization we can do something that can have such a great impact around the world,” he said.
Mullins said she looks forward to seeing the progress of NAHAD's initiative going forward as clean: water will give step-by-step updates.
“When you take away the need to find clean water, you can see what these individuals are able to do from a community standpoint,” she said. “How it improves public health. How it improves crime. How it improves education. Now that you have all these hours of your day and all these other options you didn't have before. It's not just providing something to drink. It's really changing the trajectory of their lives.”
Donors don't have to be NAHAD members to contribute to the association's campaign. Go to my.charitywater.org/nahad/nahad to make a donation.