From Where I Sit – More of the Same or Something Meaningful?

Enclosed in a plastic bag with last November’s issue of Style At Home magazine was a copy of the World Vision 2005 Christmas Gift Guide. I hung onto it because I thought it would make a great column. The other day the 2006 guide arrived.

These Christmas guides are like nothing you’ve ever seen before. There isn’t a scented candle or sequin sweater or electronic gadget to be found. You’ll be pleased to know, there are three ways to order: mail, online or an 800 number. Mastercard, Visa, American Express or a cheque are the available payment options. Bonus — no shipping charges.

In a creative move by World Vision to capture the hearts and wallets of potential donors, the catalogue is full of livestock. Yes, livestock. Poultry, piglets, goats, rabbits, heifers, and sheep are available for sale. Your purchase/donation is used to buy the product, which is then distributed to a child or family in one of World Vision’s projects overseas.

This fundraiser is genius. For those people turned off by the blatant commercialization of Christmas or the embarrassment of riches and over-consumption of our society, this is a very palatable choice. It appeals to the altruistic desire to do good, give a hand up to those less fortunate, and get that warm, fuzzy feeling in the process.

According to the product description of “two hens and a rooster,” “Up to 150 eggs a year explain why a set of breeding chickens and a rooster is our most popular gift, year after year. Two hens and a rooster are the beginning of a fantastic flock that can provide a healthy source of protein and steady income for years to come. What a perfect way to help a struggling family feed their children and achieve self-reliance!” All that for only fifty bucks.

I guess the $700 water buffalo wasn’t a big seller, because it’s not in the current catalogue. It seems that World Vision replaced it with the turkey farm for $1200, two turkeys for $75, and four for $150. Though it’s not marked as such, there seems to be a sale on goats. The price has dropped from $150 per goat or two for $300 as advertised last year, to $100 and $200 respectively in 2006. Pigs, on the other hand, those plump and perfect presents, according to the catalogue, have gone up in price by five dollars.

If you’re not into buying a stable of animals for $1,200, you can purchase clothing, school supply kits, clean water, fruit trees, immunizations, and emergency food supplies.

Groups at school, church or the office are encouraged to pool their resources to make a greater impact. I’ve just requested the kit. Who knows what might happen this Christmas.

Encouraging is the fact that program spending has risen to 84.3% (out of each dollar raised) from 79.9% last year. Both the fundraising and administration costs have dropped by a percentage point each.

So this year will it be more of the same or something truly meaningful? The answer is clear from where I sit.

%d bloggers like this: