We’ve spent years looking for the most outstanding organizations we can find – organizations with demonstrable, cost-effective, powerful impacts on people’s lives. As of now, out of hundreds examined with a systematic process, we’ve found one that we think is particularly outstanding. It isn’t just outstanding by our criteria – it’s also strong on a lot of the aspects we purposefully de-emphasize but others value, such as the chance to make a large-scale and sustainable contribution well beyond its budget (more). There’s only one problem: it’s in the sector of health system logistics.
It’s been observed before that fundraising seems to work best when you can connect a person’s gift to a tangible, emotional impact. Heifer International can tell you about the “cow you’re giving for Christmas” and how it (ideally) will affect its recipient’s life. Grameen Foundation has anecdotes (example) of women who’ve used a loan as a catalyst to pull themselves out of poverty. DonorsChoose can even arrange for you to get thank-you notes from the students you’ve bought supplies for.
VillageReach’s activities include
- Training health system personnel to become logistics specialists, delivering medical supplies to all the hard-to-reach villages so that health workers working in remote health centers are no longer responsible for making the long journeys to collect their own supplies.
- Developing logistics management information system software to enable more accurate collection and reporting of health data in remote communities.
- Creating a social business to bring propane from south Mozambique to north Mozambique so that refrigerators in health centers can be more reliably powered, and can keep vaccines cold.
How do you tell that story?
One possible response is “Don’t.” In a world full of good causes, why worry about delivery systems, information management and propane in Mozambique, when we can focus on charities with more tangible, “sellable” work?
Yet we feel this response would be tantamount to defeat for the “smart giving” movement. VillageReach embodies the strengths this movement looks for – strengths that are all too hard to find most of the time. After all, if you’re bringing in tens of millions using a decades-old story, why bother with evaluation and accountability for the work happening today? What good is real impact if it isn’t rewarded with funding?
We want to see VillageReach turn its great program into a great pitch, but we’re no good at storytelling. So we’re asking for help.
If you are good at helping charities tell their stories, and you support the ideals of the “smart giving” movement, we’d like your thoughts on how VillageReach can better sell its work.
Give your advice via blog post, or blog comment, or email to us. If you make your own blog post, please make sure to notify us via email or by linking to your post in a comment here.
We’ll round up the best submissions in a future post.
Some basic materials to work off of:
- VillageReach – main website
- VillageReach-Focus: a new project of VillageReach hoping to deliver more intimate, real-time information on its progress
- Our 2009 blog post giving an informal discussion of VillageReach’s strengths and weaknesses
- A more recent blog post on some additional strengths of VillageReach
Thanks to Katya Andresen for inspiring the title of this post