In Defense of the Charity Gift Catalog

Charity Gift CatalogToday, TEAM Stewardship Manager Mark Watson contributes to the blog, addressing the growing trend of Christmas charity gift catalogs.

If you’re like me, starting right about now, your mailbox is cluttered with Christmas charity gift catalogs. Especially if you’ve been involved in missions or child sponsorship for a long time, these catalogs will find their way in-between other catalogs for shoes, sweaters, electronics, hunting gear and just about everything else.

You may drop your holiday postal pile on your kitchen table and ask yourself, “Should I look through all these gift catalogs this year? Should I look through any of them?”

It’s a fair question. You are busy, especially this time of year. Your time and your resources are precious. I don’t know you, your passions, your gifting, or your financial situation. But I’d like to try to help you answer that question.

Let me start by asking a question of my own. Why wouldn’t you give a gift through one of these?

Holiday commercialism seems to drown out the true message of Christmas a little more each year. But there is something about the birth of Christ, about truly focusing on it, that stirs our hearts toward generosity. Like the wise men from the east found in Matthew 2:11, we want to give to others, even beyond what is required.

But a charity gift catalog from a mission organization like TEAM doesn’t merely offer the chance to give something, it offers opportunities to give something that will make the world a little better in the name of Jesus. It’s a one-of-a-kind tool for joining a gift giver and a gift receiver together for a common goal of blessing someone who is, most likely, a complete stranger to you.

If God gave you the opportunity to step into the Samaritan’s shoes and bless a stranger by purchasing warm coats for orphans in an East Asia village or by giving toward a discipleship center in southern Spain, would you pass it up?

So what makes TEAM’s gift catalog special, among all the rest?

That’s another good question. I don’t know what organization would be best suited for you. Only you — guided by the Spirit — can decide for sure. What I do know is TEAM and our amazing people of faith. I’ve sat across the table from many of our missionaries as they’ve shared with me their passions for why they do what they do.

If I could sit down with you for coffee, I could give you a litany of reasons I think TEAM’s Wish List is a great choice for you. But I’ll leave it at two.

For starters, you can be confident that your gift will go toward the project you have designated. We have careful controls in place to ensure each gift is earmarked for its intended purpose. As with most nonprofits, of course, you’ll see verbiage on TEAM gift receipts saying something like “TEAM has full discretion over donated funds.” This is standard fare for 501(c)3 charities, and it simply means that, ultimately, we are responsible for making sure our resources are put to their best use. So if a given project in our Wish List is over-funded, we apply surplus funds toward another deserving project.

But the second and more exciting reason to choose to make a difference through TEAM’s Wish List this year is simple: It’s reproducing.

Everywhere you find TEAM missionaries, you will find missionaries hard at work in the epicenter of a spiritual shock wave, a shock wave that impacts entire families, villages, people groups, and nations. TEAM missionaries are passionate about building a sustainable spiritual and social impact that reproduces itself over and over again. That’s why we partner with churches to send missionaries who establish churches that will establish more churches.

In short, I’d recommend TEAM’s Wish List if you’re the kind of person who would like your gift to reproduce itself over and over again, or if you want to impact multiple lives through just one gift.

So go ahead, open it. See what God will do when you buy bricks to build a health clinic in south Asia, fund a church planting movement in the Philippines, or provide emergency housing for women caught in human trafficking in Austria.

If you have questions about our Wish List, I would love to answer them. Feel free to drop me a line at I welcome the chance to help you discern how your gifts can go the furthest toward building the Kingdom this Christmas season, whether through TEAM’s Wish List or another organization’s gift catalog.

Find the right gift for everyone! Explore TEAM’s 2013 Wish List online.

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About the author

Mark Watson

Mark Watson formerly served as the Stewardship Ministries Manager at TEAM.

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