Follow the Liters: LifeStraw
Lifestraw is a company focused on innovation of technology that converts microbiologically contaminated water into safe drinking water with products such as water filters and purifiers.
Follow the Liters, a cause-marketing humanitarian program follows a simple formula: when a consumer in North America or Europe buys any LifeStraw product, one school child receives safe drinking water in Kenya for an entire school year.
Through packaging, print, social media, and web advertising and communications, LifeStraw products are always connected to their impact. The focus is to ensure consumers feel a connection to the company and that their relationship with the brand means more than the products they buy; that they are part of a collective action to impact the worlds’ most vulnerable.
LifeStraw operates its cause programming directly, without the use of a nonprofit or third party partner, using LifeStraw technology. The program is designed to be transparent, providing measurable data on the program’s progress and achievements.
Consumers can literally ‘follow the liters’ as our website shows exact locations of every school impacted by the program, total figures of schools covered, students reached, and LifeStraw Community purifiers installed.
Follow the Liters is about more than a product donation, it is about implementing long-term safe water programs. With an ongoing engagement with consumers, the program offers a way to sustain a safe water intervention over multiple years. Distribution of LifeStraw Community purifiers only takes place after enough funds are accumulated through consumer sales to cover five years of work in a particular primary school.
Once a year, funds collected through consumer sales are used to provide safe water programs to selected primary schools in Kenya. Led by LifeStraw staff in the local Kenyan communities, this program includes installation and
training on the high-volume LifeStraw Community water purifiers and year-round safe water and hand washing education.
Each purifier removes bacteria, protozoa and viruses and is made of durable plastic, doesn’t require electrical power or batteries, and can serve school settings for several years.
The program also provides soap for handwashing and training on health hygiene and sanitation practices. Because this initiative is implemented by LifeStraw and not sub-contracted, funds go directly to the program, with LifeStraw supporting all other overhead and management costs.
A data collection platform uses mobile phones during the distribution and for follow-up visits. This enables the company to track progress internally and provide real-time transparency to consumers. 34 full-time LifeStraw staff members in western Kenya conduct follow-up visits every school term to assess the use and functioning of the filters and to re-educate students.
Since 2013, the program has grown in consumer popularity and LifeStraw has focused on communicating the Follow the Liters story to drive awareness, sales and, ultimately, safe drinking water for students in Kenya.
As of February 2017, the program has expanded to include 1,011 schools, reaching a total of 618,000 students.