How to get World Vision to stop sending gifts-in-kind to developing countries by TMS Ruge | February 15, 2011 | Filed in : International Development | 5 comments It’s been over a week since the Super Bowl ended and just as lo

How to get World Vision to stop sending gifts-in-kind to developing countries

by TMS Ruge | February 15, 2011 | Filed in : International Development | 5 comments

Stop World Vision USA from Sending Gifts in Kind to Developing nations

It’s been over a week since the Super Bowl ended and just as long since the World Vision USA scandal about sending 100,000 over-printed shirts to developing countries hit the web. To date there are now 44 (including this one) blog posts dealing with this particular topic. To which World Vision USA has only responded once, much to the dissatisfaction of many.

One theory as to why there’s been such uproar over this, is that World Vision USA is pulling the same nonsensical gifts-in-kind stunt that got Jason Sadler’s 1 million shirts effort roundly thumped just last year. A 60-year old, multi-billion dollar organization such as World Vision shouldn’t be committing the same mistakes as a new-comer to the aid game.

Further more, it is time that the entirety of the aid industry started to adhere to stricter ethical guidelines. It is a long battle fighting against the inertia of entrenched practices in very large organizations, I know. If we can all get up in arms and subsequently smug about shutting down the 1 million shirts efforts, don’t we owe it to recipients and their fledgling economies to shut down the same practices for the whole aid industry as well?

Many of the critical blogs have been written by unanimously anonymously by employed aid workers who wish to keep their jobs. So it is hard to really get weight behind all our efforts unless we are truly speaking the same language. By that I mean we need to speak with a single voice. I spent the day thinking about Saundra S. Twitter question, as she wondered what it will take to get World Vision USA to change?

I think one of the simplest things we can do as a group is combine all our voice into one loud “NO!” The best way to do this in the digital age is through SEO, or search engine optimization. World Vision has a massive web presence and even better SEO strategy. A Google search of the term “World Vision USA” shows over 9 million search results. The first page of results for any search term is usually what most people will pay attention to. As such only 3 of our 44 posts show up on the first page. This is a great start but not nearly enough as we are below the fold. Where it starts to become a PR disaster is when we occupy the entire first page. So my solution is that we need to coordinate out efforts a little better to make this happen. Here’s a few simple things I think we can do to increase our presence on the first page:

  1. Make sure you include “World Vision USA” in your post title
  2. Make sure to link or reference to the appropriate blog posts on the World Vision blog post. There are two: this one and this one
  3. Link to as many of the other blog posts that support your position as possible. You can either link straight to it or pull a quote. The list of posts on this subject is on Saundra S.’s “Good Intents” blog
  4. Most of you are using WordPress for your blogs, make sure you fill out the SEO fields under the content of your posts
    Custom Title tag: the tile of your post
    Meta description: 3-4 sentence description of your blog post (should we all use the same description?). Keep it concise and on topic as possible. Include a few key words.
    Meta Keywords: Here’s what I used (world vision usa, nfl, tshirts, gifts-in-kind, sponsor a child)
    Post tags: Here’s what I used: World Vision USA, NFL, gifts-in-king, gik, tshirts, jason sadler, bad aid, swedow)
  5. Tweet your post as many times as you can stand. If you don’t want to toot your own horn, retweet other people’s posts or comment on their posts. So far, there’s been a good round of commenting going on
  6. A good SEO post should weigh at greater than 500 words. This is important for relevancy
  7. Edit their wikipedia entry if you have access and can edit. Keep to the facts please
  8. If you have a contact in mainstream media (MSM), please contact them to see if they’ll cover it
  9. Be professional. Nothing worse than being dismissed as rabid twitteratti with zero klout (that’s for you @bill_easterly)
  10. Send them an email on their site (

Again, these suggestions are minor, but I think if we are going to beat the drum, let’s do it smartly and effectively by coordinating our efforts. I am not saying it is the magic bullet, but occupying the whole front page of their results is bound to get attention and hopefully our desired result. I welcome any corrections to the list above and any corrections to this strategy are also welcome.


@muloem February 16, 2011 at 3:41 am

Great idea. Just a comment, I wouldn't use the same meta description as I have a hunch that shall be borderline "SEO fraud" and might get search engine penalties of some sort. But I cant verify that for sure yet.

tms ruge February 16, 2011 at 7:05 am

Thanks Moleum, Have amended the post. Want to make sure we keep the pressure positive and use reputable means to do so. Hope it works.

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