Jean Myrick doesn’t bother with crowded shopping malls, or hunting for the “perfect” gift for her family members. She uses World Concern’s Global Gift Guide for all her Christmas giving.
“Since my family has grown so numerous, it is impossible for me to know what each one wants for Christmas. Most of them are trying to downsize, and I dislike the idea of wasting money on unwanted gifts,” says the grandmother of 19. “Besides, at age 88, it is difficult for me to go shopping, and there is always the problem of making equal gifts.”
“I use the Global Gift Guide to solve this problem. I choose a number of gifts that sound good to me. I am pleased with how practical and ingenious the possibilities are. Then I ask World Concern for enough gift cards to go around,” explains Jean. “When we gather for Christmas, I pass out the cards, and people share with the others what has been given in their name.”
Everyone is grateful not to be taking home the wrong-sized sweater or an unwanted knickknack.
“One year for Christmas, Mum gave me the gift of a latrine for a poor village. I was delighted with such a pragmatic gift, knowing the huge importance of safe drinking water and the connection between this and proper sanitation,” said Jean’s daughter, Anne Saenz. “It was great to see World Concern using this to help people in developing nations. Truly a thoughtful gift!”
For Jean, the Global Gift Guide is a practical resource that helps her “shop” for her whole family. But more importantly, she says, “I and my family have the satisfaction of helping meet the real needs of desperately poor people.”
If you’d like to make a difference through meaningful gifts that help change lives, join Jean and thousands of others who are changing the way they give—to their families, and to those struggling in extreme poverty.
Whether you’re passionate about bringing clean water to thirsty African villages, or want to ensure children living in poverty get an education for a better future, personal fundraising is a trend that enables you to make a bigger impact.
It’s pretty simple: Ask friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances to donate to your cause. You can do this by dedicating your birthday for a cause, or designating an anniversary or other special day. Instead of gifts for yourself, you ask for donations to your cause.
You can also do this by participating in an event. Right now, hundreds of people are successfully raising money to help protect children from slavery by participating in the Free Them 5k Fun Run to Stop Human Trafficking. Last year, top fundraisers brought in more than $1,500 each in donations for a cause that’s near to their hearts.
Whatever your passion, here are some tips for increasing your impact with donations from others.
Ask! You’ll be amazed at how willing people are to give if they’re asked. Some of us have received donations from unexpected Facebook friends or others, despite having little contact with them recently. You never know who’s just looking for an opportunity to give.
Explain why you’re doing this. When you share from your heart, others will relate. If you’re a parent and issues like child trafficking touch your heart, tell other moms and dads about why you care.
Carrie Yu, a Seattle mom of two young children, explains why she participates in the Free Them 5k. “As a parent, it’s heart-breaking to think about. I can’t imagine having to make the decision to sell a child into slavery in order to survive,” she said. “I can’t go into the mission field, but I can run for this cause. I can raise money. This is something I can do right now where I am in my life.”
Use your talents to raise funds. Lorene Jansson sells cinnamon rolls at her office as way to boost her fundraising. Last year, she was a top fundraiser for the 5k. This year, she started selling hand-made beaded jewelry as well. “You take your passion, whatever it is, and apply it to what you want to do,” suggests Lorene. “It’s inspiring to see so many like-minded people wanting to do something about trafficking.”
Find out if your company matches donations. This is a super simple way to double your impact immediately and effortlessly. If you’re not sure if your company will match your donations, use our online tool to find out, or ask your HR department.
Spread the word. Use Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, email, snail mail, or casual conversation to tell others what you’re doing. Be yourself and have fun with it. People will respond if they see the real you coming through. As someone who has never been a runner, all I had to do was tell my friends I was actually running and they showed their support by donating. Pretty cool!
Yesterday, a man walked into our headquarters office and said he wanted to make a donation. He ordered a few gift cards for goats from the Global Gift Guide, then proceeded to write a check—for $10,000.
A husband and father of two, he told us he had picked up a copy of the Global Gift Guide at an event and started pondering the tremendous needs of children and families living in poverty, and compared this to his own life. He was moved to tears. He and his family talked, prayed and decided to make this donation.
Over the past few weeks, we at World Concern have been in an almost constant state of awe at God’s provision for our work through the generosity of others this holiday season. As a humanitarian organization responding to some of the worst disasters in the world, and working in some of the poorest, most difficult to reach places, we have the privilege of seeing the impact your donations are making every day in the lives of suffering people. We never take this for granted.
The gifts that have come in this past year – and particularly this week – have, quite honestly, blown us away. Large or small, they are heart-felt, God-led, powerfully meaningful gifts. Each one has a story behind it. We wanted to share a few of those with you.
After one of her Christmas tour shows, Addison Road lead singer Jenny Simmons had a 13-year-old girl named Kate approach her. She wanted to use her Christmas money to buy a goat in honor of her uncle Clint, a pastor who had been murdered in his own church by robbers. “Taking care of poor people was what he loved to do. I want to do as much as I can to keep his spirit alive. He would have loved buying a goat. This is the perfect present for me,” she said.
At church this past Sunday, a friend handed me a check made out to World Concern for $350 to buy animal gifts for poor children. I looked at her a little confused because the week before she had told me she was sad that she couldn’t buy any gifts from the Global Gift Guide this year. Her husband had been laid off from his job. I hugged her and told her I’d pray for him to find work.
But God touched their hearts that week and they felt led to give, even beyond their current means. “We talked it over, and this is what we want to do,” she said, handing me the check with a smile. More hugs.
It reminded me of the widow’s offering in Luke 21:1-4, where Jesus said, “All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
The gift is even greater when it’s given sacrificially.
We received an email from a college student saying he had accidentally donated more than he intended. No problem, we told him, we can refund the difference. But he sent another message saying that after praying about it, he had decided to leave the donation as is. “It’s a leap of faith,” he said, and was excited to see what God would do with it.
Earlier this week, a family of five with two special needs children donated an entire school for a village in Kenya. Because of this gift, children in this village will be blessed for generations.
Just this morning, a donor purchased a year’s education for two children and wrote this: “This is given in honor of my mother who died earlier this year. She was an amazing mother, spouse, teacher, and advocate for women and children. She had such a tremendous spark of life and hilarious view of the world. She gave of her gifts always, whether to family or to her students.”
Wow. To say we are humbled by the outpouring of love in these gifts is an understatement. Because of these gifts and so many others, we are able to freely give to those in need, reaching the farthest corners of the planet. What a blessing to witness love like this in action.
Thank you to everyone who has given a gift this year. Have a merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!
“When the cows give birth, we pass the cow on to someone else, who becomes the owner of the cow,” he explained. “By selling the milk for income, parents can pay for food for their children, for school, and to take them to the hospital if they get sick.”
“It’s like heaven,” said Pierre, a farmer who received a cow from World Concern. “We could never afford a cow like this with our own money.”
At a nearby school in Les Cayes, children receive baby goats of their own. As part of the program, they’re trained how to care for and raise the goats, and are able to earn income from the goat milk. The income they earn helps them afford uniforms, supplies and tuition to stay in school.
With healthy animals to raise, kids and families in rural Haiti have hope for the future. Beaming smiles on the faces of the children as they receive their goat gifts are just one indication of the impact these gifts have on lives.
Bring hope and a smile to the face of someone struggling in poverty this Christmas. Your gift will make a lasting difference.
When Addison Road lead singer Jenny Simmons takes the stage, she makes it her mission to encourage her audience with stories and songs of hope. Her winter tour, A Night of Stories, aims to engage people with the idea that they’re part of God’s story of hope and redemption.
“Each one of us has a beautiful calling to be a part of the story,” said Jenny, who weaves stories of personal struggles and perseverance in with songs from the band’s latest album, “Stories.”
But she takes her convictions one step further, encouraging fans to take part in ministry, helping others and giving generously. A passionate supporter of World Concern, Jenny shares the Global Gift Guide video during her shows and provides copies of the guide, a donation jar and even displays a small Christmas tree she decorated with tiny goats, water spouts and other ornaments symbolizing the life-changing gifts found in the catalog.
“It truly is better to give than to receive,” said Jenny, who asked her blog readers to give a goat for her birthday in November. “There is joy that comes in pouring ourselves out in little ways or big ways. It enhances our spiritual life.”
Jenny says she “fell in love” with World Concern while researching our work to help promote the 44-Cent Cure on the radio in Dallas. “The first thing that caught my attention was this idea of being able to reach communities that are so remote and so poverty stricken that others can’t reach them,” she said. “I thought of scriptures that say to go to the ends of the earth. I thought, oh wow, they have found the ends of the earth and gone there.”
Considering herself somewhat of a social policy buff, Jenny appreciates World Concern’s commitment to long-term change. “World Concern walks alongside communities. The truth is, dumping money into communities and leaving is inefficient. It has to be sustainable, real change,” she said, citing education, clean water and elevating the status of women as ways that can help change the future of a village.
“The very last words Jesus said were to go to the ends of the earth and share … we are to care for the widows and orphans. He went to leper colonies and touched people who had never been touched. He loves the unlovable, the untouchables, prostitutes, liars and thieves … it’s a beautiful picture of what he’s called us to do,” she explained.
Jenny strives to live a life of service and sacrifice, paraphrasing humanitarian Katie Davis in her mission: “I want to make a difference, no matter how small, and I want to love so hard and work so hard for the good of God’s people that I fall asleep each night filthy and exhausted,” she says. “It’s not always perfect, but that’s okay, because somewhere in the course of that day, I followed God’s call to love people well.”
The Global Gift Guide helps her put her mission into practice as she shares Christmas songs and stories. She hopes others will follow in her footsteps, giving life-changing, meaningful gifts this Christmas.
“What do I want for Christmas? $200 worth of makeup would be awesome,” she said. “But what I want more are things that last and matter eternally.”
Dates and locations for Jenny Simmons’ Night of Stories Christmas Tour can be found here.
Shop World Concerns’ Global Gift Guide online here.
Through our Global Gift Guide, and with the help of our donors, we’ve given goats to needy children and families for years – enabling them to have nutritious milk, and earn an income. But until today, we’ve always been on the giving end of things …
Our team that is responding to the drought in Northeastern Kenya and Somalia visited a town called Amuma, about five miles from the Somali border where we are building water projects. The town has no water source, so we are trucking water in to meet the immediate need. But with hopes of rain coming soon, we are repairing and improving a large water pan, which will be filled by the rain and sustain the community for up to four months.
The team was there today to select the contractor from the community that will do this work. Rather than bringing workers in from the outside, we’re involving the community to make the decision. We see this as their project, and therefore engage them in the process. The team met with the chief, elders and counselor (local politician), then with a representation of the community. Sealed quotes were opened in their presence (a very transparent process), and all parties signed an agreement that they would be a part of the process and were happy with what was happening.
After visiting the site of the project, the community members were so happy, they presented the World Concern staff with a gift – a goat!
They said, “Not since independence (1963), has any organization ever been so consistent and transparent” with them. They were so happy we are working with them, coming in early to ask questions and learn from them, finding ways to keep the work in the community and allowing them to participate and to make decisions – all in an honest and transparent way.
The team was truly humbled and honored to receive such an expression of gratitude from the community of Amuma.
Kids are so amazing. We just received a check for $4,500 from the 30-member youth group at Chenal Valley Church in Little Rock, AR. The letter below tells how and why this donation was sent. But the reasons are deeper than the letter states. Their Facebook page provides some great resources, including these verses about why we give.
Zechariah 7:9-10, James 1:27,
2 Corinthians 8:1-15, 1 Timothy 6:17
I encourage you to look them up, but here are a few from the 2 Corinthians passage:
At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” – 2 Corinthians 8:14-15
Here is the letter from their youth group:
Dear World Concern,
In December, our youth group created and participated in something we called the One Gift Campaign. We challenged kids to help those in need by asking their parents to scratch one gift off their Christmas list and donate that money to the One Gift Campaign instead. We had several donors offer to match their donations, so everything the kids gave was matched at an 8:1 ratio, up to $500. They hit their target goal, so we are happy to be able to send you a check for $4,500. Not bad for a youth group of 30!
One of the cool things about the One Gift Campaign is that after the money was raised, the kids were the ones who got to decide how it would be allocated. I pointed them toward your website, had them research the different ways they could give through World Concern.org, and then let them decide where the money would go.
I send you this check with the request that you follow their divisions as closely as possible. Thanks for all you are doing to meet the enormous needs in our hurting world. They asked that the money be divided in the following way:
This past year was a mixture of tragedy and triumph in the world of humanitarian aid. It began with one of the worst disasters of our time. As eyes were glued to the news coverage of the massive earthquake in Haiti, hearts were moved to help. Donations came pouring in. The response was overwhelming, and it renewed our faith in the amazing generosity of people.
World Concern, being on the front lines in Haiti, went to work. There was food and water to be distributed, tarps to be hung, and medical supplies to be delivered. Then, there were, and still are, lives to be rebuilt.
The response in Haiti was a huge part of 2010, both in terms of donations and accomplishments. But it wasn’t everything World Concern did with your help. There were projects completed in numerous impoverished countries, and new ones started. There were children educated and protected, wells dug, fields planted, houses built and jobs created. In all, we’ve reached nearly 6 million people with assistance.
We praise God for all that has been accomplished. As we reflect on 2010 and look ahead to 2011, we also want to thank you. Without our donors, none of this would be possible. You are truly partners in this work.
Here’s a look back at just a few of the amazing, creative ways people gave in 2010:
Sarah Carpenter’s nephew Stephen is 19 years old and in college, but he still enjoys receiving Christmas gifts from his aunt, knowing they will fill a vital need for someone living in poverty.
Ever since they were young, Sarah has given her niece and nephews, as well as other family members, gifts from World Concern’s Global Gift Guide. Over the years, she has discovered creative ways to match gifts to individual interests or even family holiday themes.
“When they were little, I loved giving the kids the privilege of picking something themselves,” said Sarah. “I told them I will provide the money and you pick the gift.”
One year, Stephen saw a picture of people fishing with a net in the Global Gift Guide. He related to that because he was learning to fish himself. So Sarah stocked a fish pond in Bangladesh in honor of her nephew for his gift that year and gave him a photo of a man fishing with a net in a pond World Concern had helped him stock. “He posted it on a bulletin board by his desk and kept it there all year,” recalled Sarah.
As an adult, Stephen has continued to help others and make a difference in the world. He worked in a South American village, serving the poor, and spent a summer at Oxford studying the conflicts in the Congo.
“He’s grown into a lovely person,” said Sarah, who hopes her Global Gift Guide Christmas presents were some of the many influences in his life that gave him his passion for helping others.
Sarah has come up with other creative ways to honor family members with gifts from the guide, like the year their family orchard in Yakima became the theme of their celebration. Can you guess what her relatives received from her? A share of an orchard in a poor village. And for the teachers in her life, she’s chosen education related gifts, such as school uniforms and classroom supplies so students in rural areas can attend school.
“I’m conscious of how much all of us have to make our way through the piles of stuff we’ve accumulated,” said Sarah. “I think others are happy to receive gifts that don’t add to their clutter and that honor something they’re interested in.”
Our Global Gift Guide has been getting shout outs from bloggers, Facebook fans and Twitter users about creative ways to give gifts that matter. It’s like having our own team of social media elves!
Here are some of our favorite posts promoting alternative gift giving. Know of any others? Contact us.
Rose Duryee, a missionary in Spain and avid blogger, used her love for the Oregon Ducks as a springboard to promote ducks as a gift for a struggling family in an impoverished country in her Nov. 26 post. “As much as I love my ducks, they can’t feed the hungry, save lives, or give a struggling family an income,” wrote Rose.
Sports blogger Phil Caldwell took the Oregon Ducks connection a little further, but successfully shared a great message on his Bleacher Report blog: money spent on new uniforms for every game could be better used to dig wells in Kenya or provide solar cookers for women in Chad. (Disclaimer: World Concern has no opinion regarding how many uniforms any football team should have.)
Jennifer Hanson declared to her readers that “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is buying a goat for a family in poverty.” She walked her talk by hosting her own elf party, inviting guest to dress up as elves and bring $5 to share some yummy treats and watch the movie Elf. Their pooled donations were enough to buy a complete goat package (goat, vaccinations and a pen) for a family in a country such as Haiti or Bangladesh.
Author and blogger Marla Taviano is selling adorable, one-of-a-kind fabric banners on her blog in order to buy a goat from the Global Gift Guide. The photos of the banners and her family are precious!
In addition to blog posts, we’re thrilled to see tweets, re-tweets, and Facebook posts about creative ways to give gifts that matter this Christmas.
If you’re online and a fan of our life-changing work, please help us spread Christmas cheer to some of the poorest countries in the world by sharing the Global Gift Guide with your friends!