Gifts That Give Twice

cataloguesIt’s that time of year where you start to get bombarded everyday with countless catalogues from all the major department stores and a myriad of other local retail businesses tempting you to buy all the latest and greatest for chrissie…. and let’s be honest, I love to have a browse and check out all the things I really want, but can’t really afford!

As well as all these ‘retail’ catalogues, you might be like us and receive a bunch of ‘gift catalogues’ from charity organisations. I think these catalogues are awesome! Such an easy and great way to be generous, and also a bit of a conversation starter if you give these gifts to someone who has never really heard of a gift catalogue before. I think it is a little confusing and perplexing for some when they get a gift, but don’t actually receive anything tangible, except the blessing of giving!

A few years back, we would just get “(Arguably) the world’s most useful gift catalogue” from TEAR, but now it seems there has been an explosion of gift catalogues where every charity has decided that TEAR was onto something good (which they are), and done the same thing. Now with so many options to choose from, I’m finding it difficult to know which ones to support. So I thought I’d sift through a few that are available this year to find out what’s good, what’s different, and what to consider when choosing from one of the many charity gift catalogues around.

COMPASSION // Gifts of Compassion

Gifts of Compassion

What I like: Well it’s Compassion, and if you’ve read any of my blog you’d know I fully support them and think they do awesome things… this is one of them! As always, Compassion do a great job with their marketing and these cute little kids they use in the catalogue are quite effective in communicating the needs and personalising the gift and its purpose. There’s a good range of practical ‘small gifts’ that anyone can afford, and also some good ‘big gifts’ that will create major change for a community in need!

Things to consider:

  • “All financial donations raised from the purchase of gifts from the Gifts of Compassion catalogue will be pooled to support a variety of interventions represented in the catalogue.”
  • If you sponsor a child it’s helpful to know that gifts don’t go direct to your child, but as I understand it, they still do benefit children in general.
  • As with most, the gifts in the catalogue are representative of the activities and interventions provided to the children.
  • Compassion do things well, but this obviously costs money, so approx 20% is allocated to cover all administration and fundraising costs in Australia, meaning approx 80% of your gift will be allocated to program activities. Check out the Compassion FAQ for more details.

TEAR // Useful Gifts

Useful Gifts

What I like: ‘When I think of Gift Catalogues, I think of TEAR – it is the original gift catalogue, at least the first before everyone else got on board with this great idea. There’s a great range of items which cover a wide variety of issues. I like that you can do an e-card or even print your own; a great option to reduce costs for TEAR and distribute funds to where it’s needed.

Useful Gifts

Things to consider:

  • As with most other catalogues, the actual gift donated doesn’t necessarily get delivered to the project, but rather is representative of the type of community development work done.
  • It’s also helpful to know that TEAR works through partners/local agencies, not directly in the field.
  • TEAR currently runs at approx 11% admin/fundraising fee, which is pretty good, so around 89% of your donations go to those in need (in Australia and overseas). Check out the FAQ for more.

OPEN DOORS // Gifts of Hope

Gifts of Hope

What I like: What sets the Open Doors (OD) catalogue apart is that it’s exclusive to aiding Christian people in difficult circumstances and hence allow the gospel to go forward. So all the gifts are specific to the needs of Chrisitans worldwide who are suffering or under persecution. Gifts like ‘Send two children whose fathers have been martyred to school for a year’ are unique and you can’t really find anything like this in the other catalogues… it’s great that someone is specifically looking out for these needs!

The other great thing about Gifts of Hope is that each gift represents a contribution to a specific project – so if you give $53 to send a child to school for a month, this will actually happen! There are other more general gifts which might be ‘representative’ of similar needs, but most of the gifts are quite specific, so you know exactly what you are giving to.

Things to consider:

  • If any of the projects/gifts become fully funded, OD will apply your gift where the need is greatest, within the catalogue. So you might end up giving to something else if the ‘quota’ for a particular gift you give to has been met.
  • It is interesting to know that OD does work globally in the field, but they do not always operate under the ‘Open Doors’ name due to security risks and to be able to actually operate in some countries.
  • 83.5% of donations go to ministering to the needs of persecuted believers, while 16.5% are used in admin & fundraising.
  • It’s also handy to know that giving to OD is not tax deductible, but if that’s your motivation for giving, then perhaps you need to re-asses your motives…!

CMS // Looking For the Perfect Gift?

What I like: Everything in the Looking for the Perfect Gift? catalogue directly supports the spread of the gospel. So most of the gifts in the CMS catalogue are focussed on supporting and equipping missionaries, pastors, students or families to carry out the work of the gospel across the globe. This is a great thing as people definitely need to hear the gospel, and this gift can have widespread effect on the community as they hear and receive the gospel.

Things to consider: From what I gather, the funds go directly to the project you select which is fantastic, but as with most, if the gift you choose is over-funded, your money will go into CMS’s general fund, to support the costs of our missionaries on the field. Ultimately, it goes to the work of the gospel somewhere! I’m not sure as to the admin/fundraising percentage for CMS, a little more online transparency would be helpful, but I do know that they operate with several CMS funds for specific purposes, some of which are tax deducatable, some are not.

WORLD VISION // World Vision Gifts

World Vision gifts

What I like: The first thing that stands out to me with the World Vision Gifts is the great design of the website. Sure that may have little to do with the actual gifts, but as a designer, this is important to me and shows me they are doing it well and that it’s not just a side thought or just another way to raise funds.

They’ve gone all out and are offering the gifts in retail outlets, workplace giving and even as a wedding gift registry! Great effort I say and a good way to get in front of people and capture their attention. World Vision are also offering eCards like TEAR, and even MMS which may seem a little impersonal, but might suit some!

So to the gifts – a heap of great practical gifts for aid, development and education for those who need it most. And some great big gifts that a bunch of people might get together to raise funds for… how awesome that you can help rebuild a house for someone for only $1345 (I wish it was that cheap in Sydney!).

Things to consider:

  • Each World Vision gift is representative of the meaningful activities that your donation will support, such as education and training programs for children and adults or emergency relief during natural disasters.
  • The amount they receive for the item you purchase will be allocated towards their work in that category. If they receive contributions in excess of the needs in a particular category, they use the excess in other categories represented by gift items in the catalogue.
  • Considering that they do things well, 20% spent on administration & fundraising isn’t bad, with a total of 80% spent on international and domestic programs, community education and advocacy and program support.
  • I don’t need to say too much more about World Vision as they are perhaps one of the best know aid/charity organisations in the world.

This is by no means the comprehensive review of all gift catalogues as there are heaps of others – Oxfam Unwrapped, Care Gifts, Unicef Chairty Gifts – just to name a few. You can also head to the Charity Gifts website which is a great resource that gives info on a stack of other options.

So it seems there are almost as many charity ‘gift catalogues’ seeking your generosity this Christmas as there are retail stores vying for your money. If you’re going to give (or ask for) a gift this chrissie, then I’d encourage you to seriously consider one of these charity gifts. I’ve asked for some gifts from TEAR cause I’ve always used them – hopefully the above reviews and info will help you to decide which one to choose… they can all seem the same, but if you dig a little deeper you can see that, thankfully, they are all a little different by what they support, how they operate or what gifts they have on offer. So decide what you (or the person who will get the gift) want to support, and get giving!

**** LATE ENTRY ****
I have to add a special late mention to UNICEF’s gift catalogue – the name alone deserves a mention – fantastic and relevant marketing angle to grab attention, and the program looks great as you come to expect from UNICEF! – “Say No To The Naff” this Christmas… Check it out on Facebook.


Live a life more generous.


5 thoughts on “Gifts That Give Twice

  1. Great blog post Tones! Really well thought through, really clear and really helpful for us who are giving and receiving this Christmas. Thanks for putting the hard yards in to complete this review!!! Liz

  2. Hi Tones,

    Thanks so much for the mention and the design kudos. As one of the creatives who worked on the site, it’s great to know that what you can do in design can have a real positive benefit for those who need it most. And it’s wonderful to hear (especially from a fellow designer ) that the thought you put in doesn’t go unnoticed.

    By way of explanation, the design itself is part of a greater rethink about World Vision Australia’s role in helping to be a thread that connects the lives of those in need, with the people who are offering that help. As for how the design relates to the Gifts, there is so much benefit and great work done as a result of people’s generosity and we wanted to do that generosity justice. We tried to achieve that by visually explaining how giving through these Gifts results in that benefit and great work being done, by showing these very real communities, real families and real children, who’s lives are changed through this generosity. Hope that story of connection came through!

    Thanks so much again for your comments, and good-on-you and good luck with what you’re trying to achieve through LLG as well!


    1. Hey Andrew,
      Thanks for the comment and feedback!
      I have noticed the common ‘thread’ theme throughout the current World Vision promotions and I think you’ve pulled it off well. Love that you guys have put some solid thought and effort into the campaign and used design so effectively to achieve it. Great job!

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