A FarmVille That Matters: Charity:Water's Site Raised $3 Million Last Year

It’s been a year since charity:water launched its site that organizes “give-up-your-birthday” campaigns, where people ask for donations instead of presents and the money goes to build wells in Africa. It’s a win-win: You get less stuff, the world gets clean drinking water.

And that year has been good for the thirsty in the world: Nearly $3 million has been raised over the site, including notable campaigns by angel investor Chris Sacca, Twitter and Square founder Jack Dorsey, and Alyssa Milano who raised $96,000 on her 37th birthday. (Yeah, it’s another Twitter-happy celebrity. Calm down, Paul Carr, it’s for charity.)

The thing I love about charity:water is if you give $5,000, you see a well tapped. None of this money goes for administration—it goes for water, pure and simple. Here are videos of just three of the thousands of wells that Sacca, Dorsey and Milano’s birthdays provided.

But of course we all know the true sign of success on the Web is competition– even for doing good. Cue Bill Clinton who just last week announced he was giving up his birthday for his charity via Facebook Causes’s give-up-your-birthday app, which has raised more than $6 million for various charities since its inception.

Call it an altruistic grudge-match, but charity:water is throwing down a save-the-world gauntlet today launching its annual September birthday campaign. The tradition started four years ago when charity:water’s founder Scott Harrison first gave up his birthday, asking people to donate money instead of buying him gifts. It has swelled in size every year as more September babies gave up their birthdays. Now on the first anniversary of the site, Harrison hopes to raise $1.7 million—all online, all in individual, give-what-you-can chunks, all by September 30.

I’m guessing even our most player-hating commenters are rooting for them. For you Virgos and Libras, the promo video is here.