SEATTLE — The Thirst Project is an organization that works to bring clean water to impoverished areas. In 2012, it committed to a goal of bringing clean water to Swaziland by 2022. Clean water is the key to reducing, and ultimately eradicating, the rampant HIV within the country, where 19 percent of the population is affected. Connor Franta, a YouTuber with more than 5.5 million subscribers, recognized this and decided to take initiative. For both his 22nd and 23rd birthdays, he launched a fundraising campaign to raise awareness for The Thirst Project and help it build wells to provide clean, safe water for people in Swaziland.
Clean, safe water is a huge factor in reducing and preventing disease. The goal the Thirst Project set would cost $50 million to achieve. To aid the organization, Connor Franta’s Thirst Initiative was launched with a goal of raising $120,000 to build 10 new wells.
To achieve this goal, Franta knew he needed a way to get his fans involved. As an incentive, he developed levels of prizes fans could receive based off of their donation value. These prizes ranged from a simple follow on twitter to a personal Skype call from Franta himself. Each person that donated would be entered to win a trip to LA and a coffee date with Franta. Franta’s tag to encourage fans was “Just $25 can provide one person with fresh water for LIFE”.
In just 30 days, Connor Franta’s Thirst Initiative ended with a total fund of $230,000. It’s safe to say Connor Franta reached his goal. Instead of the original 10 wells, Franta and a crew from the Thirst Project built 19 wells throughout Swaziland. This campaign helped more than 9,500 people.
The following year, Franta decided to up the ante. He raised the goal to $180,000, which would fund the building of 15 more wells. The incentives were all the same as the previous campaign. The only difference this year was the introduction of his new line, Common Culture. As a new way to raise money for the organization, Franta pledged one dollar to the Thirst Project for every bag of Common Culture brand coffee bought.
A week after the second campaign’s launch, Connor Franta’s Thirst Initiative had already raised more than $100,000 toward his goal, and the campaign ended close to $200,000. By using his fame and outreach, Franta was about to help the Thirst Project to bring 16 more wells to Swaziland. This campaign helped a further 7,500 people.
Connor Franta’s Thirst Initiative demonstrates how one person can cause a change in others. Through the contributions of Franta’s fans, Swaziland is one step closer to having 100 percent clean water. It only takes one person’s voice to initiate change in others.
– Taylor Elgarten