The World Vision Gift Catalog provides a unique way to give a gift that will help those who are less fortunate. This unique catalog is filled with ideas that can really make a difference in the lives of people in need. Find out more about this organization in this exclusive interview with World Vision representatives Justin Greeves and Devin Hermanson.
World Vision Interview
Can you give us a brief history of the Gift Catalog?
Devin Hermanson: The Gift Catalog was created in 1996 as a way for parents to teach their children about charitable giving. A married couple worked with us to come up with specific items that would illustrate the needs of the poor. Their children were given an amount to donate and they were then allowed to choose where their donations would go. Since then, the Catalog has grown to help hundreds of thousands of people and raise over $25 million a year.
How can people get involved and help?
What makes your organization unique?
Devin Hermanson: Our approach is all about "teaching people to fish," and we work holistically to empower communities to become self-sufficient. It's a powerful and challenging approach, but the results are long-lasting for communities around the world. After nearly 60 years, we've learned a lot about how to do it well. Thankfully, we continue to learn in partnership with the communities we serve.
What have been some of the greatest challenges you have faced on your "Spirit of Christmas" tour?
Devin Hermanson: There are innumerable challenges, including logistics, lack of Internet access, language barriers, and fatigue, but the real obstacle is the detachment many of us feel towards the poor in far-off lands.
Can you tell us about some of the changes you have seen so far?
Devin Hermanson: The reaction on Facebook has been tremendous. We now have nearly 20,000 people following us on the Tour, and their comments have been revealing. It's clear that the Tour has succeeded, at least for some, in helping to show just how powerful even small gifts can be in helping people in need.
I can say that for myself, the idea that we are all brothers and sisters feels much more real to me than ever before. If we can succeed in helping others to feel that way, we will have a chance to achieve a real Christmas miracle!
Where has the biggest impact been seen?
Devin Hermanson: All of the gifts people give can have a huge impact. I think one of the most dramatic gifts I've seen is when a village gets a source of clean water for the first time. The access to clean water can completely transform a community.
How do you choose the locations that you are planning on visiting?
Devin Hermanson: There are several factors that we took into consideration for this trip. Where have we given Gift Catalog donations? Where do we think we can get powerful, compelling stories? What are the logistical concerns like travel time and internet access? This kind of trip has never been done before, and it's been an adventure!
Is there a specific group of people that you feel are in the most need of assistance?
Devin Hermanson: All children in poverty need our help, but it's clear that in much of the world, girls are at a tremendous disadvantage. The lack of power they have in many societies puts them at risk. World Vision is working with them and their communities to help provide them with health care, greater access to education, vocational training, and much more.
What trends are you seeing in holiday gift giving?
Devin Hermanson: So far, we're seeing a tremendous amount of generosity! To date, we have raised more money this year compared to last year's donations, and that is extraordinary considering that the economy continues to struggle. Traditionally, most of our donations come in right before Christmas.
Justin Greeves: Despite the economic downturn and slow recovery, our recent opinion research shows the holiday season is alive and well in Americans' hearts, minds, and wallets. Several surveys conducted by Harris Interactive in the last two months reveal Americans' desire to make these times special for their families and kids as well as their willingness to help others in need. Some findings in a recent Harris Poll indicate the following trends:
- Almost two in five holiday shoppers plan to spend more family time at home this year compared to last year, and 17% are planning on spending more time doing activities with their family away from home.
- In terms of actual gift giving, the same poll shows Americans reprioritizing gift giving where they can.
- Many shoppers will continue to turn to online sources to get the best deal.
In another survey, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of our organization, Americans reveal their desire to help others even when they might be hurting financially themselves. Organizations like World Vision are innovating and making it easy to give such a gift using their online Gift Catalog. Finally, we know intuitively that children are always a focus around the holiday season. This same survey reinforces the strength of those feelings among Americans and also demonstrates that helping spirit.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Devin Hermanson: I hope that readers will realize that it takes very little to change a life with a donation. I know that people are feeling strapped, but for as little as $25 someone can donate a pair of chickens to a family. Those chickens can change generations of lives in a community!
Justin Greeves: Take the time to enjoy this wonderful time of year with your family and friends!
LoveToKnow thanks Devin and Justin for their insightful interview. We wish them and World Vision continued success.