Focus: Campaign of the week - Water industry supports WaterAid

Georgina Lock,

WaterAid's long-running customer campaign is one of the most successful examples of an entire industry supporting a charitable cause.

When it began 20 years ago, the then public-owned water industry backed the campaign by sending out the charity's appeal for cash with every water bill. Now, in the era of privatisation, 20 water companies will distribute a total of 23 million WaterAid appeals in envelopes containing their customers' quarterly bills.

A child dies every 15 seconds from a water-related disease. The literature within the appeal highlights this fact and uses the slogan 'Give Water.

Give Life' to urge customers to donate at least £2 a month.

The annual campaign is WaterAid's biggest fundraiser each year. Before 1999, the charity asked for one-off donations; now it requests regular gifts so that each year's appeal will yield in the region of £5m over the course of a decade.

Last year's appeal raised £800,000 in the subsequent year, and it is hoped that this year's will generate at least £1m in the first 12 months.

"The appeal is unique," says Andrew Cook, marketing director at WaterAid.

"The entire industry has supported it for 20 years, and it's the bedrock of our fundraising."

To launch the campaign, 17 volunteers from UK water companies are travelling with WaterAid to Burkina Faso to witness how some of the 1.1 billion people worldwide who do not have access to safe drinking water get by from day to day.

The volunteers, all chosen because of their enthusiastic fundraising, will visit an area lacking a clean water source or anywhere hygienic for people to go to the toilet, and a village where the charity is working to provide clean water.

Ben Caulfield, a water sector business analyst for United Utilities in Warrington, hopes the trip will raise awareness of the vital role clean water plays in people's lives, health and wellbeing - and the importance of the charity's work.

"Having clean water from the tap is something we really take for granted in the western world," he said. "But nearly one-sixth of the world's population do not have this luxury."

The leaflet comprises a freepost envelope, a bank form and information on how the money donated can help people on every level.

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