Deutsch and Water Is Life Created a ‘Venmo Micro Hack’ for Charity

By Erik Oster 

Clean water charity Water is Life wanted to utilize peer-to-peer money-sending app Venmo to appeal to millenials, but there was  one big road block: the service doesn’t allow advertising. So the charity teamed up with Deutsch’s New York office to find a stealthy way to promote itself on Venmo.

On July 4, which the agency knew would be a heavy-traffic day for the app, they monitored Venmo’s global feed. Then they sent micropayments of a cent each to users and, since Venmo doesn’t limit character count on payment descriptions, included a full targeted ad of up to 2,00o characters, ending with a call to action and link to make a donation.


All told, the agency sent out 250 messages (for a cost of $2.50), which raised $400 in donations in one day. Since then the totals are up to 1,000 messages and $800 in donations. Deutsch has also added a YouTube ad and says it plans to double funds in the coming days.


“We expect to raise about $1,600 based on how it’s going,” Deutsch New York creative director Frank Cartagena told Adweek. “We have also monetized the video on YouTube and expect more donations once people see the video.” 

N.A. Chief Creative Officer: Pete Favat
N.A. Chief Digital Officer
Chief Creative Officer: Dan Kelleher
Executive Creative Director: Menno Kluin
Creative Directors: Frank Cartagena, Sam Shepherd
Art Director: Ilana Wolstein
Copywriter: Fanny Josefsson
Associate Design Director: Brian Gartside
Design Intern: John Sampson
Head of Integrated Production: Joe Calabrese
Editors: Aaron Schillinger, Matt Mullen
Sr. Post Producer: Francess Tom-Sahr
Director of Digital Production: Suzanne Molinaro
Digital Producer: Alisyn Trani
Developer: Marina Brodskaya
Project manager: Marea Grossman, Michelle Ziff