December 20, 2010; Source: Bloomberg | While some people suggest that social media still has much to prove as an effective fundraising tool for nonprofits, at least one group says doubters are all wet. For New York City-based charity: water, Twitter has been responsible for a stream of donations that are helping it bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations.

With the bulk of its donations coming from Twitter appeals, charity: water last year raised $9 million, a 30 percent increase over 2008, and this year it's on tap to bring in $12 million to $13 million in revenue. In addition to the basic appeal of its work—funding water projects in 17 countries, including Cambodia, Ethiopia, India and Honduras—charity: water's following is attributed to help from several A-list celebrities.

Actors such as Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith; Adrian Grenier of “Entourage”; and Matt Modine, have tweeted about the group, encouraging others to follow as well.

Citing a recent Chronicle of Philanthropy survey, the Bloomberg news service reports that charity: water has the largest number of followers on Twitter for a single nonprofit – some 1.3 million people around the world. That's nearly three times the number that follow the second-ranked, Room to Read, with 457,158 followers. The AIDS group One Campaign (452,000) and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation follow at three and four, respectively.

“Twitter is just another way of telling our story,” said Harrison. In these tough times, when other charities seem to be drowning under crushing expenses and dropping donations, charity: water is floating high.—Bruce Trachtenberg