We’ve all grown accustomed to sharing silly online memes and listicles with friends on Facebook. While good for a chuckle, there’s not really any real-world value in all the effort spent on the social network. But there could be. So for the seventh annual Tap Project—a campaign from UNICEF in honor of World Water Month—the agency Droga5 has created a Facebook app that aims to tap user’s networks for good, rather than just a good laugh.
Installing the app turns a user’s Facebook profile into a tap. After being encouraged to donate $5 to the Tap Project—which provides 200 days of clean drinking water to one child—a user then invites two (or more) friends to take part, thereby creating additional pipes from their tap. "When water comes your way, keep the water flowing", goes the slogan, meaning friends are encouraged to donate and add new pipes to pass the water on in a sort of digital chain letter of charity. The app’s animation allows users to visualize the growing impact of their water network with real-time feedback on the number of taps opened, dollars donated, and days of clean drinking water provided by their network of friends.
This also marks the first significant digital effort from the Tap Project. When the project started in 2007, New York City restaurants simply offered patrons sleek bottles of tap water offered in favor of bottled water at a cost of $1. The goal then was to bring awareness to the fact that in North America we frequently pay a premium for bottled water when our tap water is far better than much of the world’s water supply. That first year raised nearly $100,000. The project quickly grew to include volunteer fundraising events, product tie-ins, and retail promotions, and the 2012 campaign raised nearly $1 million. Now, the goal is to expand far beyond grassroots awareness building and mobilize the world’s largest online network.
"This year, our goal is to meet or exceed that number through the Facebook app, our national sponsor Giorgio Armani Fragrances [which has donated $1.3 million since 2010], and hundreds of volunteer events taking place across the U.S," says Rajesh Anandan, senior vice president of Strategic Partnerships and UNICEF Ventures at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. "Facebook has unparalleled reach, so as a platform for reaching potential supporters, it is without doubt where we want to be. Facebook is also inherently social, where supporters can become cause promoters with a single click."
And with nearly 4,000 kids under the age of five dying every day due to waterborne illnesses, the story should be an easy sell for the throngs of parents on Facebook sharing photos of their own little ones frolicking frivolously in clean-water splash pools.