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Is Water.org Failing to Maximize Its Chances?

March 01, 2016
By Jarrod Whaley
Image credit: Stella Artois

Beer brand Stella Artois has joined forces with Water.org to help bring clean drinking water to the developing world via their Buy A Lady A Drink cause marketing partnership. It's a great concept: the problem of lacking access to clean water often affects women in developing nations disproportionately to men, as women are most often the ones tasked with walking large distances to gather water for their families. So by purchasing Stella Artois' limited edition chalice, you are literally buying a lady a drink, insomuch as you're supporting Water.org's efforts to improve water supplies globally. Brilliant.

Here's the campaign's stellar "Leave A Mark" video, featuring Water.org co-founder Matt Damon:

Overall it's a great campaign, but there's one seemingly small element that puzzles us: there doesn't appear to be any clear messaging about the campaign on Water.org's Web site as of this writing. We assume the intention on their part is to avoid coming across as being too closely aligned with a profit motive--and that's certainly an understandable position, if looked at from a certain perspective. We question that thinking on the grounds that the partnership is designed from the ground up to benefit Water.org both materially and perceptually...so why wouldn't they want to do their best to bring the campaign to light?

Cause marketing works best when the nonprofit and for-profit sides of the equation are each working together to bring maximum impact through mobilization of their respective constituencies. We think that an NPO hurts its own goals to some degree when it seeks to distance itself from a CM campaign. Water.org has a great opportunity on its hands here, and here's hoping they'll come to see that when they help Stella Artois, they are also working to achieve their own goals.