CNLP 219: Scott Harrison on How to Relate To High Capacity Leaders (and Donors), the Growth of Charity Water and What Being a Night Club Promoter Taught Him About Leadership

Scott Harrison founded charity: water over a decade ago, after declaring himself morally and spiritually bankrupt while living his twenties as a NYC night club promoter.

In this interview, filmed before a live audience at the Pushpay Summit One Day in Charlotte, NC, Scott talks about the meteoric rise (and near demise) of Charity Water, courting high capacity and high net worth donors, and why excellence is the new standard for not-for-profits.

Welcome to Episode 219 of the podcastListen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

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The Spring: The charity: water Story

Links from this Episode

Thank you to everyone sending in feedback and incredible support with the launch of my latest book Didn’t See It Coming! I love hearing your stories. If you haven’t already, you can learn more and get your copy of Didn’t See It Coming here.

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Visit and discover how your church can increase giving.

3 Insights from this Episode

1. Transparency can turn a cynical giver into a trusting partner

We live in a culture where the majority of people doubt authentic charitable organizations. 42% of Americans distrust charities and 70% feel non-profits are wasteful with donations.

Proving to be a trustworthy steward of money is crucial when recruiting financial partnerships. Offering full transparency into where funds go once they are in hand closes the loop of that unknown territory. When people can see where their money is going it takes them from jaded and cynical to trusting and hopeful.

2. Connect people to being a part of the solution through stories

When people feel connected to stories, they want to be a helpful part of the solution. They just need a guide – a bridge to help them connect to the need. Images and storytelling can create a desire to act where people are moved to ask questions and respond with empathy.

See your storytelling role as a guide. Bring them to the table of generosity and allow them to be redeemed in the process.

3. Scott’s top thoughts on how to engage generous givers

Scott Harrison has more than a decade’s worth of experience getting people to give to Charity Water. Here are some of his top guidelines on how to engage partnerships.

Be excellent. People hyper-value excellence.

Be transparent about where the money is going. Misspending repels charitable givers.

Avoid false humility. Generous people want to be giving to peers.

Don’t pitch a request asking for money, tell a story requesting engagement.

Don’t simply ask for a hand out – Invite people to join you in a solution.

When someone says NO, don’t write them off. Assume every no is a potential maybe another day. Grow your credibility and stay the course for the right time to give them another chance in the future.

Quotes from This Episode

Burnout and Overwhelm Don’t Have to Be Fatal, or Final

Burnout is something many leaders struggle with. Find yourself experiencing signs of burnout, too?

If you want practical help overcoming some of the biggest challenges leaders face, my new book Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That Nobody Expects and Everyone Experiences tackles the seven core issues that take people out: cynicism, compromise, disconnectedness, irrelevance, pride, burnout, and the emptiness of success and provides strategies on how to combat each.

I wrote the book because no 18 year old sets out to be cynical, jaded and disconnected by age 35. Yet it happens all the time.

The good news is that if you’ve grown prideful you don’t have to stay that way. There’s hope, and there’s help.

Here’s what top leaders are saying about Didn’t See It Coming:

“Seriously, this may be the most important book you read this year.” Jud Wilhite, Lead Pastor, Central Church

“Powerful, personal, and highly readable. ” Brian Houston, Global Senior Pastor, Hillsong

“Whatever challenge you’re facing, whatever obstacle you’re hoping to overcome, whatever future you dream or imagine, there is something powerful for you here.” Andy Stanley, Founder, North Point Ministries

“Uncommonly perceptive and generous…You have to read this book.” Ann Voskamp, NYT bestselling author

“Masterful.” Reggie Joiner, CEO Orange

“Deep biblical insight, straightforward truth, and practical wisdom to help you grow.” Craig Groeschel, Pastor and NYT bestselling author

“This book is sure to help you.” Daniel H. Pink, NYT bestselling author

Over the years, one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about being a public speaker is having opportunities to hang out with Carey…It’s not a matter of if you’ll run into these challenges; it’s a matter of when. Be prepared by spending a little time with a leader who has already been there.” Jon Acuff, NYT best-selling author

“Nieuwhof’s book provides expert guidance…with an accuracy that pierces the heart.” Nancy Duarte, CEO Duarte Inc.

“A refreshingly transparent guide for all leaders in a wide variety of industries.” Bryan Miles, Co-Founder and CEO, BELAY

You can learn more and get your copy of Didn’t See It Coming here.

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Next Episode: Rachel Cruze

Rachel Cruze talks about what motivates her as a public speaker and writer, what her dad, Dave Ramsey, has taught her, why going on commission is a much better system for your kids than allowance, how to help your kids through college without going into debt, and the top financial issues leaders and the people they serve struggle with.

Subscribe for free now and you won’t miss Episode 220.

Read the Transcript for this Episode

CNLP 219: Scott Harrison on How to Relate To High Capacity Leaders (and Donors), the Growth of Charity Water and What Being a Night Club Promoter Taught Him About Leadership


  1. Jim on November 1, 2018 at 8:15 pm

    document.write(‘Better fix your website’);

  2. lukus simari on October 7, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    I just took a contract telling the stories, of a non profit, through video. What a timely eoisode! Thanks Carey! Loved the woman who kept saying “sooo good” 🙂

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