World Vision Eyes Children to Expand Donor Base

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World Vision, the largest privately funded Christian relief and development organization focused on child sponsorship, will add a children's page to its annual gift catalog due out next week.


Though not a shift in strategy, the new page aims to involve children in the act of charitable giving.


"The challenge this new page addresses is how World Vision establishes itself in the hearts and minds of families long-term," said Karen Kartes, media promotions manager at the Federal Way, WA, organization. "Our growth and effectiveness as an organization is based on expanding and enhancing existing relationships, as well as creating new ones. We believe the kids' page helps us accomplish this on the consumer level."


The 32-page catalog will drop to 300,000 existing and new donors. E-mail blasts and insert promotions will support. In the new book -- the sixth year in the running -- the new page will add more items at lower price points than in the past. For example, a $13 gift buys two school bags and $20 a blanket for a child. Two rabbits cost $14 and fruit seeds $12.


A note to parents reads, "Do your children share your heart for helping the poor? Use these gifts to help nurture an understanding of children's needs around the world. Let them give from their own allowance or piggy bank and watch as the act of giving opens their eyes and softens their hearts to the needs of others."


A photograph of three New York children is accompanied by a caption narrating how they raised $430 to help victims of the El Salvador earthquake this year.


Items that were featured in the previous catalogs included the best seller, a $50 donation for a dairy goat that will provide milk, cheese and income for a child in Africa. This donation particularly helps families headed by children who take care of other siblings while the parents are out at work.


As for other gifts, $25 can buy vitamin A capsules, and $30 can teach a woman in Mali to read and write. A $355 donation buys a fishing boat and net for a poor fisherman in Bangladesh.


"The overall strategy of the gift catalog is to provide a wide variety of gift options and price points for the holidays or year-round," Kartes said. "It's great, too, for our current donors as well as for people who are just becoming acquainted with World Vision because it represents the scope of our work and communicates our mission and methods for transforming communities."


Founded in 1950, World Vision last year reported $469 million in contributions and revenue. Of that, the catalog accounted for income of $1.5 million from contributions generated from 10,002 donors. The average gift is $150.


"I think it's reasonable to project that we will exceed $2 million this year," Kartes said. "This year there are 49 different items."


Last year, the catalog dropped to 200,000 donors. World Vision also had catalog inserts in three major daily newspapers. A print and broadcast campaign supported the catalog effort.


Starting Oct. 5, items in this year's catalog will appear on worldvisiongifts.org.


The marketing focus so far has been on appealing to parenting and child-oriented publications for media coverage.


"In the coming months, we will do various print advertising by way of a minicatalog insert in which we plan to incorporate the kids' page," Kartes said.


Kartes was hopeful that adding the children's page would lead to more outreach.


"Perhaps, depending on the success of this year's kids' page, we can look at involving a corporate partner or two next year," she said.


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