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The idea behind my Saturday post is to focus on how non-profits can use social media for advocacy by offering specific organizational examples. While I focus on effective use of social media, I do offer suggestions on how some organizations can improve their performance and their reach.

Today the organization in the spotlight is VillageReach – “Our mission is to save lives and improve well being in developing countries by increasing last-mile access to healthcare and investing in social businesses that address gaps in community infrastructure.”

VillageReach caught my attention because of their exceptionally good rating with GiveWell, a non-profit which rates US charities based on factors such as their evidence of effectiveness and their transparency. I clicked my way to researching VillageReach and was reminded that it was Ken Jennings’ charity of choice for his winnings in the Man vs.Machine Jeopardy challenge. More importantly for today’s blog post, I was glad to see that VillageReach was committed to the holy trinity of Facebook, Twitter and Blog. While they do not seem to have a YouTube presence, they have used the Global Washington channel to showcase their video. They have 501 followers on Facebook and 408 on Twitter and 451 views of their YouTube video.

As I researched further, I found this post on the  GiveWell blog about The Best Charity that No One Has Heard Of: How would You Tell Its Story? This is the crux of the matter. VillageReach is doing incredible work, but is not an organization that is easy to find unless you happen to hear about them. Why is this? Part of the reason is that their area of focus, health care logistics, is not easy to present as a feel-good story. The responders to the GiveWell blog suggest more than once that it is important to present the human element. This allows people to engage. I believe this is valid advice and I think photos and video can definitely go a long way in achieving this end.

I have one other fairly basic advice. Target those keywords. If I look up “health care, Africa, medicines, non-profits” on search engines, VillageReach is not showing up. This means that if a person seeking information about this field is not arriving at VillageReach then there Internet presence is not serving to reach new people. Some time invested in SMO and SEO can easily change the situation and I believe the core of the work that VillageReach is doing serves as a compelling sales pitch and can move things forward from there.

Here is wishing VillageReach all the very best in getting the most out of their Web 2.0 presence!