The Power of a Donation

How one six-year-old’s $8.15 donation turned into clean water for more than 2,500 people around the world.

charity: water
Apr 5, 2018 · 5 min read

It’s not uncommon for us to receive donations by mail at charity: water. We get checks and money orders every single day — people generously sharing some of what they have to help bring clean and safe drinking water to families in need. And it’s always inspiring!

But once in a while, we get a moment like this that we just have to share.

Back on January 14th, we received a letter from six-year-old Nora Shauna Jackson. It included the handwritten note you see above, along with a drawing, her 1st-grade photo (a very thoughtful addition, in our opinion), and a donation: a $5 bill, a $2 bill, a $1 bill, a dime, and a nickel.

As her photo and adorable note circulated our office, we found ourselves wondering what that thought process must’ve been like. There had to have been a moment when she debated… Do I include the nickel? Yeah, I think I will!

Not only was this girl willing to part with a $2 bill (which were sacred to us as kids), but she was intentionally thinking about how every cent might help transform lives for kids her age on the other side of the planet.

We had to know more.

So we set out to find Nora and hear it in her words. With very little information to go on, we found her parents on Facebook like weirdo stalkers and sent a hopeful message asking if we could meet Nora, learn more, and potentially share her story. Then we waited.

Finally, her father replied to the message. “We talked to Nora about this opportunity this afternoon, and she would love to help in whatever way she can.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that we were giddy.

We took a train down to her home a few states away almost immediately. We spent a day with her family, asking questions and getting to know this incredibly inspiring six year old girl. And Nora absolutely blew us away.

$8.15 turned out to be about 80% of her net worth at the time — money she received from the tooth fairy or earned by shoveling snow.

I actually made that decision sitting in my bed before I fell asleep.” Nora told us. “I was like should I? Or should I keep my money? Or should I give some away?

The next morning she came downstairs with her money in hand and sat down to write her note to charity: water.

The way she talked about it was just so black and white. So simple. Nora didn’t want people to die from dirty water, so she gave as much as she could to help. And she had no doubt that it would make a difference!

We knew we had to do something special with Nora’s story. And we also wanted to prove how right she was… that every single donation, no matter how big or small, really does make a difference.

So on World Water Day (March 22nd), that’s exactly what we did.

We invited everyone we knew to follow Nora’s lead — to give $8.15 and find out what we’re capable of doing when we work together.

And the response was unbelievable.

Not only did 3,671 people decide to give (often giving in larger variations of $8.15… like $81.50 or $108.15), but they were truly compelled by Nora’s heart and character.

“Thank you 10 times dear Nora for your great heart for people in need!” — Madeleine

“I’m going to tell my daughter about what you’ve done in hopes of inspiring her too with your spirit of giving and love for all humans.” — Kelsey

“Thank you for inspiring us all to give and to save lives on World Water Day.” — Ryan

“This is the best thing I’ve seen all week! It’s incredible that a six year old became my teacher for the day. Keep it up Nora!” — Eric

“Dear Nora, Thank you for inspiring me to give money to charity: water. Your delightful video and generous heart are the reason I knew to help out. I bet the people around you are very lucky, because you are clearly a kind and loving person.” — Michele

Ultimately, this amazing six year old inspired a one-day movement so large that it’s going to bring clean water to more than 2,500 people around the world.

And that’s just the beginning of the story.

Young kids will soon become healthier than ever before. Without the burden of having to collect dirty water for their families, they’ll have more time to attend school. They’ll become better educated, get to pursue better opportunities, and build better futures.

Each one of them, just like Nora, will have the chance to impact and inspire the people around the them and bring even more good into this world.

It’s exponential. And it all started with just $8.15.

Written By: Tyler Riewer
Photos By: Jeremy Snell

Thanks to Kate Varghese, Jamie Pent, and Ali Troute

charity: water

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We're a nonprofit organization on a mission to bring clean and safe drinking water to every single person on the planet.

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