Former Nightclub Promoter Develops ‘Thirst’ for Global Change

Inventures 2021 keynote shares how he is disrupting philanthropy

Keynote speaker Scott Harrison, founder and CEO of charity: water, spent almost 10 years as a nightclub promoter in New York City before realizing that for him, happiness isn’t found in cars, real estate and “conventional successes.”

Scott Harrison smiling
Scott Harrison, CEO and founder of Charity: Water

Harrison signed up for volunteer service with a humanitarian organization offering free medical care to the world’s poorest nations and was astonished by the conditions he found in his new surroundings. While travelling in developing parts of the world, he became aware of the world’s clean water crisis and changed course to found the life-saving non-profit organization charity: water in 2006.

charity: water uses public installations and innovative online fundraising platforms to fund over 22,000 water projects in 24 countries. In his visual keynote, Harrison will tell the full story of how he transformed himself from a nightclub promoter into a successful philanthropist, and how his innovative value-driven movement changed the non-profit world.

Harrison believes that a combination of innovation, motivation and radical transparency is key to inspiring generosity. He runs charity: water like a start-up by using story-telling and branding to make it one of the most recognized non-profits in the country, and technology to prove and monitor the success of their projects around the world.

Since its founding, charity: water has attracted more than 1 million supporters, raised over $475 million, funded 59,608 water projects, and will provide more than 11.6 million people in 29 countries with clean drinking water.

Harrison has been recognized in Fortune magazine’s 40 under 40 list, Forbes magazine’s Impact 30 list, and was #10 in Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business” issue. He has also been recognized as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. In October 2018, Harrison released, Thirst: A Story of Redemption, Compassion, and a Mission to Bring Clean Water to the World, his New York Times best-selling memoir, from which net proceeds go to fund charity: water projects around the world.

“Scott Harrison’s story is inspiring and is one that will make us all strive to be more courageous, more generous and more innovative in our own ventures,” said Alberta Innovates CEO Laura Kilcrease. “His words will be of great inspiration for the over 3,000 attendees expected at the event.”

Harrison will take centre stage at noon on September 23, to share the strategies that make charity: water successful, and how to overcome obstacles and challenges with creativity and innovation, followed by questions from the audience.

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