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Thirst - Annual Report 2015

Designed to showcase Thirst's achievements in the WE Water Experience education programme, a collaborative project between Thirst, Inditex and the YOU Foundation (formerly the Foundation for UNESCO).

The aim of our education modules are to educate the next generation of leaders about water scarcity and virtual water. We provide them with the intellectual and practical tools they need to make water-wise choices and reduce their water footprint.

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Thirst - Annual Report 2015

  1. 1. ANNUAL REPORT 2015
  2. 2. Welcome I am pleased to present to you this annual report for the year of 2015. Our achievements outlined in the following pages will demonstrate to you the success of the WE Water Experience in China, illustrated by the yearly growth of our programmes since their launch in 2013. These figures indicate the resonance of our messages with a growing community of environmentally aware millennials in China. This tells me that there is huge demand for this type of environmental education, both from educational institutions and from students. We began as a small group of young global leaders, compelled to take action when we understood the impact of water crises on global economies, societies and, ultimately, life on earth. Now we are proud to call ourselves a movement, a movement of water ambassadors and change-makers who truly believe in the power of the individual to make a difference. Since the launch of our programme in 2013, almost 100,000 students have graduated from the WE Water Experience Education module, over 35,000 students have taken part in our Club activities, and over 17,000 students have participated in our innovation competitions. This year we have developed the WE Water Experience in 4 core elements: Education, Clubs, Innovation, and finally the Thirst Academy,whichwasanewinitiativelaunched in September 2015. It provides a platform to capture the interest and imagination of our most powerful asset: the students who have been inspired by our messages and wish to be part of the solution to our generation’s most urgent problem. The success of this programme, demonstrated by its rapid growth in such a short period of time, is indicative of the level of interest in our highly engaging modules in combination with the very real sense of urgency to solve the global water crisis (and the planet!) for generations to come. I am extremely proud to be able to tell you that, in 2015, we have grown our Education programme by 214%, Clubs by 100% and Innovation by 300% compared to last year’s figures. We are confident that we will be able to continue along this trajectory and have therefore set ambitious targets for 2016 to reflect this. We are also continuing to develop creative strategies to reduce our cost of impact. This year, we have reduced this to a mere $0.63 per person reached - a 55% reduction on last year. “we are proud to call ourselves a movement, a movement of water ambassadors and change-makers who truly believe in the power of the individual to make a difference.” The more people we reach, the greater our impact on the preservation of this precious planet. Hence we are also developing a global media strategy to raise the profile of our organisation, as well as the partners who have made all of this possible. Together we are changing the world. Thank you for being part of it. Mina Guli Founder and CEO With thanks to the key supporters of this amazing programme. Without you, none of this would be possible:
  3. 3. In 2013, we reached 5,485 students. Building on our success of the previous year and leveraging our new schools partnerships, we were extremely proud to grow our programme by almost 300% to reach 21,810 students in 2014. In 2015, we have continued this theme of expansion and consolidation and have grown our programme by a further 214% compared with 2014’s figures, reaching a total of 68,458 students this year alone! Leveraging our new school networks, our continually developing partnership with ESD, the growth of the ThirstAcademy and our new operations in Chongqing, we forecast that we will be able to reach an impressive 255,000 students with the WE Water Experience in 2016! This represents further growth of over 270% compared with 2015’s figures. In total, 95,753 students have graduated from the WE Water Experience and we have established 138 school partnerships this year, bringing our total to 224 to-date. Education 1.7xthe number of new partner schools as last year Working with138 New schools 68,458 Students graduated from the program in 2015 2015 has been the most successful year for the WE Water Experience Education programme yet! We have achieved 152% of our target number of graduates, reaching a total of 68,458 students, among which 90% were from public schools, 93% listened to our presentation in Chinese, and 60% were within our key target age group of 12 to 16. Our growth since 2013 The increasing numbers of students who have graduated from the WE Water Experience year-on-year since its conception in 2013 are a testament to the commitment and dedication of the Thirst team and the resonation of our messages with Chinese youth, in combination with with a highly engaging series of standalone and long-term education modules. 90% students are from public schools 93% of presentations in Chinese 3.1xthe number of students as 2014 52%above target for 2015
  4. 4. Securing long-term school partnerships Thirst has gained an excellent reputation among schools in Beijing and beyond, establishing 138 new long-term school partnerships this year. This is indicated by our repeated invitations to return to our partner schools and deliver our presentations to their new students year-on-year. Since there are a limited number of schools in Beijing, we are now focusing our attention on other cities, in addition to developing long- term curriculums in schools within Beijing. These long-term curriculums are particularly popular with primary schools, including the Primary School Attached to Capital Normal University and New Hope Primary School. Our long-term modules combine WE Water Experience presentations, Club activities, and specialised lessons focusing on topics such as the water cycle and environmental legislation in more detail. Based on the success of these modules, we will continue to grow these programmes through 2016 and roll them out to more and more schools. Expanding beyond Beijing We now have established operations in Shanghai, which delivered 29% of our total student graduates in Q4. In 2016, we plan to leverage our existing school networks in Chongqing and establish operations there. We conservatively forecast 30,000 graduates from Chongqing in 2016. Furthermore, with the enthusiasm of 486 newly qualified Thirst Ambassadors behind us, Thirst’s profile across other provinces in China continues to grow. Schools in many cities including Tianjin, Nanjing, Ningbo and Wuhan now have established Thirst hubs and hold courses and activities on a weekly basis. 224 school partnerships since 2013 Education 7,965 graduates in a single week! 255,000 graduates forecasT for 2016 Weekly performance We reached an average of 1,317 students each week across the year, peaking at 7,965 students in a single week in October. To illustrate the rapid growth of the programme, this figure represents the average monthly total number of graduates for the first half of 2015! The first week of December also represented an outstanding performance, reaching 5,072 students in one week. Quarterly performance Throughout the year we have consistently reached more students than in previous years. Q1 and Q3 traditionally represent quieter periods for us as these fall across school holiday periods. We use these times to secure more school partnerships and develop additional modules. This year, during the quiet summer months of Q3, we developed the Thirst Academy modules and leveraged our university connections to roll it out across student volunteer groups in Q4. This explains the huge growth in numbers of graduates in Q4 Number of graduates from the WE Water Experience (Quarterly comparison), 2014-2015
  5. 5. Training The Thirst Academy is comprised of a suite of rigorous training modules, including on- and offline programmes and specialised one-to-one tutoring. Specifically, our training programme includes video tutorials covering everything from the WE Water Experience presentation itself, to presentation skills and how to engage with students of varying age groups. We also host sessions on WeChat, providing our Ambassadors with a forum to share their experiences and ask questions of our expert team. Further to these, we hold training sessions in our offices, as well as additional on-to-one training for our Ambassador Leaders, who represent our brand when recruiting additional Ambassadors at their universities. Recruitment In 2015, we tested a number of methods for recruitment, including cold calls to university volunteer groups, as well as recruitment notices during WE Water Experience presentations at universities. Our most successful technique was a WeChat online speech, which involved over 700 students, and from which we recruited 70 Thirst Ambassadors and 10 interns. Looking ahead to 2016, we will continue to develop our WeChat presence and post additional adverts online inviting students to participate in further online speeches. Growth since September 2015 Having launched the Thirst Academy in September 2015, we are extremely proud of the results that we have achieved so far. We have 486 qualified Thirst Ambassadors delivering our messages in 8 provinces across China. To-date, they have reached 20,045 students and established long- term curriculums in 20 schools. Our largest Ambassador hubs are in Nanjing, Wuhan, Tianjin and Shanghai, where we have 14 of our Gold Ambassadors championing our cause. As our Thirst Ambassadors hone their skills we find that their reach increases rapidly. We have been blown away by their commitment, dedicationandenthusiasmtosharemessages of water conservation. This simply serves to prove our driving belief - that small actions truly can create big changes! Our relatively small (but growing!) base of Ambassadors are able to reach a proportionally increasing number of students month-by-month. Thirst Academy Since we launched the WE Water Experience in 2013, we have been inundated with requests from students to become more involved with Thirst and the dissemination of our water-saving messages. This year, in response to these requests, we launched a completely new initiative: the ThirstAcademy. Interested graduates of the WE Water Experience, as well as university volunteer groups, are invited to attend the Thirst Academy and, once they pass our rigorous training modules, they qualify as Thirst Ambassadors. Our dedicatedThirstAcademy team based out of Beijing then support our Ambassadors in reaching out to schools in their local communities and delivering the WE Water Experience modules. Our Ambassadors are our strongest assets. They live and breathe our water-saving messages and, as they become increasingly invested in the Academy, this reinforces their own awareness of and commitment to water conservation. We have already seen significant behaviour changes among our Ambassador groups. They are therefore the ideal candidates to represent our brand and our messages when they go out into their local communities. 486 Qualified Ambassadors Since September 20,045 Students reached by our Ambassadors
  6. 6. Rewarding Our Ambassadors are categorised into Gold, Silver and Bronze Ambassadors, depending on their level of training and experience. Developing this hierarchical system gives our lower-level Ambassadors specific goals and related benefits to strive towards, while giving our more experienced Ambassadors a real sense of achievement. Each month we select our highest performing Ambassador group and individual Ambassador and express our dedicated gratitude and congratulations to them via a newsletter sent out to the whole Thirst Academy. As we continue to expand this programme into 2016, we plan to offer some prizes to provide further incentive for our Ambassadors to grow the programmes in their communities. Forecast for 2016 We expect the impressive growth in popularity of the Thirst Academy and the reach of our Ambassadors to continue along its current trajectory, enabling us to reach 70,000 students in 2016 with our Ambassadors alone. Next year, we will continue to develop our training modules, based on feedback from current Ambassadors and teachers. We will also grow our dedicated Academy team in order to be able to reach more and more potential Ambassadors, using tried and tested techniques such as our WeChat speeches and other online forums. Thirst Academy Programme delivery Following the same system as our Education team in Beijing, once trained our Ambassadors are expected to leverage existing connections to schools, as well as making cold calls to new schools in their local communities. They then deliver the WE Water Experience presentation, establish Clubs and run Club activities. Many of our Ambassadors have also set up long-term curriculums in some of their schools. Reporting Each week, every Ambassador group will produce a report and send it to our team, detailing the presentations and activities that they have run and at which schools. They are also expected to provide photographs of every presentation or activity. Reviewing We have developed a review system to ensure that all of our Ambassadors are delivering high-quality presentations and activities. Each Ambassador is assessed on an ongoing basis on the following key categories: presentation performance; teachers’ feedback; Thirst team’s feedback; ability to reach a reasonable and periodically increasing number of students; administrative efficiency. Not only are we concerned with the performance of our Ambassadors but we are also very keen to collect their feedback on our programmes. We hold monthly online sessions and invite all of our Ambassadors to participate, providing them and us with a forum to review our programmes and processes and share ideas for improving and developing our modules based on their on- the-ground experience. Number of students educated by Thirst Ambassadors Oct NovSep Dec No. of students educated by Ambassadors 20000 18000 16000 14000 12000 10000 8000 6000 4000 2000 0
  7. 7. Zhou Haibing Gold Ambassador Haibing has educated 105 students in total in 2015. “It has been an unforgettable experience. Every time I stand in front up the children with the T-shirt of ‘Thirst Ambassador’ I feel recharged and cannot wait to deliver positive energy. I hope more people to join us to build a beautiful world.” Yang Wen Bronze Ambassador Wen has educated 205 students in total in 2015. “On the one hand, children’s enthusiasm and innocence increases my interest in teaching; on the other hand, the activity raises my awareness of water-saving. When I use water I always recall what I teach and it has changed my living habit” Thirst Academy Chen Dan Gold Ambassador Dan has educated 370 students and is our highest performing Ambassador of 2015, establishing a number of long-term school partnerships. “Education of water-saving can change the earth’s destiny. Thirst offers me the chance to improve myself, influence others and change the world.” Zhang Xuetong Gold Ambassador Xuetong led her team to reach 416 students in 2015. “After two terms of teaching, I feel strongly that environmental awareness is penetrating into our life gradually. Seeing our children’s activities of saving water, I believe that our effort is very meaningful.” Meet some of our fantastic Thirst Ambassadors:
  8. 8. INNOVATION 100,000 Students in 2016 Our premise is that young people can solve the problems of the future. We believe that, in order to solve the problem of global water crises, we need the future leaders and consumers to not only understand the problem, but also to be engaged in its solution. Unconstrained by conventional thinking, students have the imagination, creativity and will to come up with out-of-the- box innovations and campaigns to reach the masses and change the way that individuals and organisations use water. Our innovation competitions have proven to be extremely popular with students, teachers and partners, as well as generating significant interest from the media and we have been overwhelmed by offers of support and requests for participation. Growth since 2014 We launched our pilot innovation competition in 2014,with420studentsfrom Middle School Affiliated with Beijing Jiaotong University participating. As word of our competition and student engagement levels spread, we becameinundatedwithrequestsfromschools to participate in our 2015 competition. This year, we worked with 16 schools, 17,000 students and our friends at Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) to run our largest competition to-date. This was in addition to a number of smaller competitions earlier in 2015. This 16-schools competition represented 33x more student participants than 2014. Developing young innovators In order to motivate students to be really engaged in the competition and come up with some inspired ideas, we deployed our successful WE Water Experience education modules and Club activities in each of the participating schools prior to the launch of the competition. These activities included visiting the Gaobeidian Water Treatment Plant and making Chinese Water Puzzles.   Designing creative solutions Inspired by our education modules and engagement activities, our students then designed and built their water-saving innovations. These could be suitable for application at home or at school. Stand-out innovations included a transparent tap, intended to remind users of exactly how much water they were using, which was accompanied by a novel dispensing system intended to reduce the amount of water that leaves the tap. Another impressive design was for a tap with several added functions allowing the user to select from three different options of water flow time. Rewarding ingenuity We held the final ceremony of our 16-schools innovation competition on 30th November 2015, The students with the best innovations were awarded trophies, certificates, as well as electronic devices, specifically selected as water-friendly products such as e-readers. Looking to the future Building on the momentum we have built through our 2015 competition, we have signed an agreement with ESD to roll out this competition to 100 schools and 100,000 students across China in 2016. In 2017 and beyond, we will expand this into a global innovation competition, with the aim of becoming the foremost global inter-school competition, engaging students in water conservation and developing a generation of water-conscious young innovators. 33X more students than 2014
  9. 9. The total number of Thirst Club members to date is 11,252, of which 68% are under 18, while the remainder are between the ages of 19 and 22. Looking ahead In 2016 we will continue to expand our Clubs programme, increasing the number of activities available and growing our Clubs presence in provinces outside Beijing, in line with the growing success of the Thirst Academy programme. We are also in early planning stages for hosting an entirely new event - the Clubs Conference. This will provide our Clubs with the opportunity to get together, share their water-saving ideas and learn from water experts through workshops and panel discussions.Thiseventiscurrentlyscheduled to take place in May 2016, to coincide with Youth Day. CLUBS This year our Clubs programme has continued to grow from strength to strength, with more Thirst Clubs being established in more provinces than ever before! We now have 153 Thirst Clubs operating in 20 provinces across China. We exceeded our target of 50 new Clubs in 2015 by 30%, and established a total of 65 new Clubs this year! We have reached 32,794 students with our Club activities this year, which represents 9.6x the number of students as last year. We have also organised 186 Club activities this year - 4x the number of activities as 2014. We are extremely proud of the results we have achieved with our Club activities this year, and the numbers clearly indicate the increasing popularity of the programme. Beijing is our strongest hub for Clubs, with a total of 98 established. With the additional resources continually being allocated to our Shanghai office, our presence there continues to grow exponentially, with a total of 10 established Clubs in Shanghai to-date. 2XMore clubs than LAST YEAR 153Thirst Clubs in 20 provinces in China Total Number of Clubs - 2014 vs 2015
  10. 10. 0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000 Actual Target Oct Nov Dec Shanghai We now have established operations in Shanghai with our team there under the supervision of a member of our Senior Management Team. In the last 6 months, we have achieved incredible results, with a total of 9,299 students from 25 schools graduating from the WE Water Experience. We have also established 7 new Clubs, with 2,065 students participating in 10 activities in the last half of this year. The Thirst Shanghai office opened in September. We spent the first month recruiting and training interns, volunteers and Ambassadors. This new team received training from one of our most experienced team members from the Beijing office, who is now running our operations in Shanghai. October marked the launch of our WE Water Experience presentations in Shanghai. Initially organising presentations with the British International School of Shanghai and the International Fashion Academy, and then reaching out to public schools, we reached a totalof1,529studentswith our WE Water Experience presentations in October. We also established 1 new Club, with 720 students participating in 2 activities. Our highlight from October was attending the Shanghai Philanthropy Partnership Day event from 30th October to 1st November. More than 60 public welfare enterprises, 200 social organisations, and 25,000 citizens attended the event this year. During the 3-day long event, we shared our messages of water conservation by delivering WE Water Experience presentations to 1,530 people, and arranged various on-site interactive games, such as the Virtual Water Guessing Game. Over 1,000 people visited our booth over the 3-day period. In November, we launched the Thirst Academy in Shanghai, and ran training modules at Fudan University and our Shanghai office with 25 Thirst Ambassadors graduating from the programme. A total of 2,447 students graduated from the WE Water Experience programme in November, we established 4 new Clubs and arranged 6 activities, including the Virtual Water Guessing game, with 1,254 students participating in this activity alone. December was our most successful month so far in Shanghai, with 5,323 students graduating from the WE Water Experience. This incredible achievement is a result of the hard work of our team and the delivery of programmes that really resonate with Chinese youth. 9,299 Graduates from Shanghai 3x target number OF students
  11. 11. Expanding on our success on the Chinese social media platforms, we are now actively promoting ourselves on Western social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Our aim is to create fun, interesting and digestible content, with an emphasis on visual media such as photos and infographics. Due to the decreasing popularity of Weibo in China in the face of new social media giant WeChat, we have reduced our efforts on the former, and increased our presence on the latter. Our strategy is to post images of our presentations and activities for students to share with their friends, as well as interesting articles regarding water conservation. We have found that interacting with our followers has enabled us to make significant strides in increasing their engagement levels as well as our numbers. We are extremely proud to say that we have increased our WeChat following by 316% since January 2015. Traditional media Along with our increasing social media presence, we have also continued using traditional media to spread our messages. This includes utilizing both print and online media this year. This year we also launched our monthly newsletter, which currently has 60 subscribers. Due to the nature of consumption of media in China - which is focused more on social media than more traditional modes of consumption such as email - this is currently an English language newsletter. We plan to develop this into a Chinese language newsletter in 2016. We’re also excited by the rise of networks in China such as LinkedIn, which have the capacity to broaden our access to different markets, and are looking forward to continuing to expand our reach and leverage our messages through the media. Media Leveragingourwaterconservationmessages through traditional and social media is important as it allows us to expand our reach exponentially beyond the classroom to a much broader audience. Students, staff, volunteers, and more generally those who are interested in water, have formed a network of activists who create, share and educate through water related content. It gives the public an opportunity to feel part of a broader community, to have their voice heard online. It also gives us a chance to connect with other water-focused NGOs, promoting their content and forging informal partnerships with environmental groups all over the world. As the vast majority of Chinese students and the general public are active on both Weibo and WeChat, these platforms allow us to disseminate our photos and videos from both our presentations and activities, as well as communicating with our volunteers and supporters and highlighting opportunities for further participation and engagement. After presentations, students are invited to join our network and engage with us online. Through the year we have been actively increasing our presence on social and online media, both in China and abroad. 316% more followers on WeChat
  12. 12. Direct Costs inDirect Costs Financials 2015 has seen rapid growth of all of our existing programmes, as well as the development of a number of new ones. Given the nature of our work, we find that most of our expenditure is, as expected, allocated to the payment of qualified and dedicated personnel. Where possible, we try to keep other costs to a minimum, for example, by building long-term relationships with strategic partners who provide us with products and services. Direct costs include all project-related expenses, such as project personnel, materials and transportation required to deliver our programmes. Indirect costs include financial and administrative staff, office space and utilities. Of our indirect costs, our largest costs are for administrative and financial personnel, as well as office space rental, at 41% and 35% of indirect costs respectively. When compared with 2014’s comparable indirect costs (8% and 48% respectively), it is clear that we have made great strides in reducing extraneous costs, focusing instead on building a solid and dedicated team, enabling us to keep many functions in-house and thereby reduce our costs further. Cost of impact This year, we have reduced the direct cost per person reached to $0.63. This is predominantly due to the establishment of the Thirst Academy, which utilises the power of volunteer groups to reach students further afield than our small team would be able to reach without incurring significant costs. This cost per person reached represents a 55% reduction of cost of impact when compared with 2014’s figures. The Thirst Academy has proven to be particularly effective in this area, with the cost of impact being just $0.26 per person reached.
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