Non-profit organization Watsi has only been up and running for three months and has made a big impact in a small amount of time. So far, 34 people’s lives have been changed in developing countries because of the medical treatments they have received through Watsi donors. Watsi seeks to not only leave a lasting impression on the patients who receive treatment but also on the people who donate and spread the word to others looking to save precious lives. I spoke with Howard Glenn, Watsi co-founder responsible for finances, about the success of Watsi and how they plan to fund more treatments and positively influence more lives.
Shay Davis: If you were to describe Watsi in a few words what would they be?
Howard Glenn: Personal, direct and tangible
SD: If you wanted people to know one thing about Watsi what would it be?
HG: Watsi is the first online peer- to- peer fundraising platform that allows donors to fund life changing medical treatments to people in need.
SD: Have you personally encountered the people that Watsi has funded medical care for?
HG: Personally, no. I have had direct contact with the executive directors of the clinics that we work with but the patients individually, no.
SD: What makes Watsi different from other non- profit organizations who help people in need?
HG: I would say the most obvious thing about Watsi is its direct impact that you can feel. I don’t feel there is another organization out there right now that does this with the healthcare space, which is as direct, tangible and personal as donating on Watsi is.
SD: What makes Watsi so personal?
HG: I like going back to something that we’ve referenced numerous times and it’s called the collusive action. Numerous studies have shown that if a person can easily and quickly understand the impact of their donation, then they’re more likely to donate. So what we’re trying to create with Watsi is fostering that compassion on a global scale.
SD: Why not use Watsi to help people in the US instead of in developing countries?
HG: That’s a really good question. While I do feel like there are a lot of problems in the US with our healthcare. I do feel that there is more potential for growth and scalability internationally for Watsi.
SD: What has been the biggest benefit so far from Watsi?
HG: Funding 34 life changing medical treatments to date.
SD: Has your life changed at all since co-founding Watsi?
HG: Yeah, I had already planned to go to business school here at SC for Watsi and started working on it. Since starting working with Watsi the amount of work doing school and Watsi at the same time has grown exponentially. With the growth of Watsi, I’ve had to pick up responsibilities and duties and things like that so at times my head is on a little bit on a swivel and life gets a little hectic. But it’s worth it to make sure that the whole thing keeps going and running and getting funding to that we can keep going.
SD: If someone was unsure about donating to Watsi how you would convince them to donate?
HG: Just go to the site. I feel that the stories and the pictures and just the usability of the site speak for itself.
SD: What’s next for Watsi?
HG: Right now, we’ve kind of done our proven concept phase so we launched it back is late August. We wanted to get a few months of user interaction of donations and kind of go through the whole process to make sure it works before we go out to organizations and individuals to donate money to scale and grow. So right now it’s all fundraising getting “x” number of dollars so that we can hire “x” number of people etc. But once we do get that funding number one goal would be to add features to the site to make it more of a community feel and ramp things up. We have some ideas for ambassadorship, which is the first person who donates to a profile would be the ambassador and it would be their responsibility to make sure that it gets funded. For example, we did a private pilot for our first 3 patients and we only used our personal friends and family of the people that worked at Watsi. It was a great reception and everybody donated and all of the profiles were funded pretty quickly and that’s because each one of us was an ambassadors for those 3 profiles. We went out to our individual networks and made sure that they at least looked at the profile and then decided rather or not they wanted to donate. So if we can get that so that every person that comes on and donates is the first person to donate is the ambassador and deals the ownership of that person getting funded, then we feel like profiles could fly off the site.
SD: How have you guys gotten this fair with funding and getting the word out?
HG: Word of mouth has been the biggest thing. We’ve had some success with our facebook page and twitter, more so with Facebook. I think we have around 1800 likes or so, which is pretty good for an organization only 3 months in. We’ve won some contests and we’ve raised some money but nothing significant so far.
To learn more information about Watsi and to donate, visit their website. Currently there are five people, four of them are children, on the Watsi website who need life-saving medical treatments. Be the one person who donates and tells another person about the importance of Watsi and their mission.