10. Scott Harrison

The Hedonist Turned Philanthropist

At 28, after a decade of vice as a Manhattan nightclub promoter, Scott Harrison traveled to West Africa and discovered virtue. He left wanting to improve global access to clean water, but he and his friends were distrustful of charities in general. "If we were going to solve the water crisis," he decided, "a completely new model was in order." So he launched charity: water, which in six years has raised $95 million—and won vocal fans such as Jack Dorsey and Jessica Biel—by sticking to a few self-made rules:

Charity: water never tweets out photos of suffering. Instead, it publishes profiles of people whose lives have been improved by water.

"In charity, there's often a lack of transparency," Harrison says. This year, he aims to install 1,000 sensors so locals and donors can monitor wells in action—and know when they need fixing.

Staffers made personalized Valentine's Day videos for donors large and small. It was a reminder of who's thankful—and a reason to donate.

[Image courtesy of charity: water]

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  • Jvalez

    And how many of the pumps are working still?  A failure of imagination on actually measuring the effect and durability of the intervention.  But that's no reason to doubt the creativity.  After all, as Thomas Edison once argued "imagination without execution = hallucination."  At least you win awards here for imagination, not hallucination.