||Are you considering child sponsorship?
CHILD SPONSORSHIP: WHAT ARE THE THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN
TRYING TO DECIDE IF YOU WISH TO SPONSOR A CHILD? We have
gathered the information on this page about child sponsorship from a number
of different resources. You may already have sponsored a child yourself, and
perhaps you have thoughts and feedback about your experience with child
sponsorship. We welcome your input. Just email us with your opinions,
Child sponsorship programs have a long history of helping needy
children around the world. Probably the first such formal organization was the
Save the Children Fund, created by Eglantyne Jebb, an Oxford-educated
teacher and sociologist, in England in 1919. The Fund aided children in war-
ravaged central Europe.
Inspired by the Jebb’s vision, a group of Americans established Save the
Children in the United States in 1932. Their immediate goal was to help the
children and families struggling to survive during the Great Depression in the
rugged mountains of Appalachia.
Today, millions of children around the world are enrolled in and being helped by
child sponsorship programs. Some of the programs have become quite large:
World Vision, with over 4 million children registered, and Compassion
International, with over one million children being sponsored.
Are these programs effective and how much aid do they give to children?
There have definitely been those who question the entire concept of child
sponsorship. One of the early critics of child sponsorship was Peter Stalker,
who published an often-referenced article, "Please Do Not Sponsor This Child"
in the May, 1982, issue of the New Internationalist. It's still available if you wish
to do a web search, but we have not provided a link, simply because many of
the shortfalls he lists for child sponsorship programs have been eliminated
since the time his article was published.
Stalker does make a valid point about the popularity of child sponsorship
programs. They make giving to help children personal by linking a
sponsor directly with a child in need. Child sponsorship programs typically
provide a photograph of the child who is sponsored, send sponsors one or two
letters from the child each year, and offer the opportunity to write letters to the
child. The process of giving is personal, but donors should realize that with
most of the larger child sponsorship programs, there is a cost associated with
providing this personal touch. Some child sponsorship programs use a portion
of contributions to help entire communities where a child lives. Some programs
help churches or local organizations, who in turn help the children being
sponsored. A few child sponsorship programs directly support children who
reside in orphanages or family homes established by the child sponsorship
A more recent criticism of the huge charities that operate child sponsorship
programs is that they have become "big businesses". To some extent, this is
true. Because of the size and complexity of their work around the world, it
would be impossible for organizations like World Vision and Compassion
International to operate on a voluntary basis. Yes, there is a cost for
administration, advertising, travel, and management, but most child sponsorship
programs endeavor to keep all these necessary expenses at a minimum level.
So, what are some of the questions one should answer before making a
decision to proceed with child sponsorship? Here are some suggestions:
1. First, ask yourself: why do I wish to sponsor a child? It is easy to see
the photograph of a beautiful child and feel compelled to help that child through
sponsorship. Although this may seem like a good reason to begin child
sponsorship, we suggest that you consider that your sponsorship will help not
just one child, but many children, some who may not be as beautiful as the child
on the organization's website or TV spot. We suggest that you consider child
sponsorship as partnering with a child sponsorship charity rather than a specific
child. Yes, of course, it is okay to have the photo a child as a reminder. Of
course, it is okay to pray for a specific child and write to a specific child.
2. What type of child sponsorship program do I wish to support? If you
are of the Christian faith, you may wish to partner with one of the many child
sponsorship programs conducted by Christian charities. Just a few examples:
- Compassion International;
- World Vision;
- All God's Children;
- Christian Relief Fund;
- Children's Hope Chest;
- Buckner International.
There are of course many child sponsorship programs who do not consider
themselves as Christian charities, including some who started as Christian
ministries and have now dropped the "Christian" tag.
It is fairly easy to thoroughly investigate the medium-sized and larger child
sponsorship programs. Charities that are not directly affiliated with a church or
church organization annually report to the U.S. government about their financial
status. This annual report document, Form 990, must be made available to the
public. Many child sponsorship programs include links to their Form 990
online. The Form 990 includes information about all expenses, income, assets,
and projects of the child sponsorship program. You will also find information in
the Form 990 about officer's and manager's annual salaries.
If you are a Christian and wish to support a smaller church-related
organization, there are certainly plenty of choices available. Some of the
church-affiliated organizations may not be required to file Form 990 and may
not be large enough to be rated by any of the charity rating services. For the
smaller child sponsorship programs, you can ask for references. Smaller child
sponsorship programs that are operated through volunteers may be able to
send all of your monthly contribution to aid orphans. For example, at Big Family
Mission, administrative expenses are paid through donations by our founders,
so we are able to send 100% of child sponsorship donations to directly help
You may wish to support a child sponsorship program that operates in one
particular country in the world. You can usually find such programs by doing a
- How much do you wish to contribute per month? Today, most child
sponsorship programs require a donation of about $30 to $40 per month to
sponsor a child. For Compassion International, the current required donation is
$38 per month. At Big Family Mission, for sponsorship of orphans in Russia, we
suggest a monthly donation of $15, but sponsors may join our program for as
little as $5 per month. For sponsorship of an orphan in India, Big Family's
monthly required donation is $29. The $29 provides for all living expenses of
one child: food, shelter, clothing, education, and loving Christian environment.
- Child sponsorship from a Christian perspective. At Big Family Mission, it
is our sincere belief that Christians around the world are called to aid and
minister to orphans and children at risk. All Christians are orphans who have
been adopted into the family of God. Numerous scriptures contain
commandments from God that we are to care for orphans. Many families are
called to adopt orphans, even the older children who are not considered to
have any opportunity for adoption. For those who are not able or called to
adopt orphans, child sponsorship provides an ideal opportunity to minister to
- Child sponsorship through Big Family Mission. Big Family Mission has
been working through churches and volunteers to minister to Russian orphans
since 2001. For several years, we attempted to conduct a typical child
sponsorship program in Russia. None of the larger child sponsorship charities
work in Russia, and we soon discovered why. The orphans we minister to in
Russia are in government-run facilities. It is not unusual for an orphanage to
be shut down, and the children moved to other facilities, with little information
available about where the children were moved. Information about the orphans
is available only with a good working relationship with orphanage directors, and
if the director changes, information about children may no longer be available.
- Because of the difficulties in conducting a typical child sponsorship
program in Russia, we have adopted the concept of sponsoring an
orphanage ministry. We can still provide photos of individual children for
special prayers and consideration, but we ask sponsors to realize that they are
sponsoring and partnering with a team of volunteers and ministers who
regularly visit in orphanages. A few of our sponsors have been able to develop
pen-pal relationships with children, but many of the children have difficulties
with writing and are reluctant to exchange letters.
For those who wish to have a more conventional experience with child
sponsorship, Big Family now partners with Helping Hands India and Pastor
George Fernandes in Bangalore, India. Pastor George and his ministry team
now operate 3 orphanages which provide a loving Christian environment for
more than 100 children. Most of the children in these orphanages can speak
English (or are learning English); therefore, sponsors are able to write directly
to children at the orphanages. Since the children at these orphanages are in a
more stable environment, sponsors are able to develop a long-term relationship
with their sponsored child.
- What are your experiences with child sponsorship? Like most charities,
child sponsorship programs are good targets for those who wish to focus on
their problems. Yes, they have problems. But, yes, there are many children
who are being helped, and many sponsors have been greatly blessed by their
participation in child sponsorship.
Christopher Redner, founder of Children in Need, is a strong advocate for
child sponsorship programs. He has personally visited with many children
around the world who are participants in child sponsorship.
Some of his reasons for encouraging everyone to become a sponsor of a child
- Child sponsorship helps extremely vulnerable children around the world;
- Child sponsorship is personal because the sponsor is making a long-term
commitment to help a child;
- Child sponsorship is relational, both for the sponsor and the child
sponsored. Cultures, ideas, thoughts, love can be exchanged.
- Child sponsorship programs have lasting impact because they are
helping change entire communities;
- Child sponsorship is measurable. You can see the progress of a child.
Many sponsored children move on to professional careers;
- Child sponsorship is engaging; it might even be said child sponsorship is
contagious. Many sponsors begin with one child and then become
sponsors for more children.
Have you been blessed by (or had a problem with) child sponsorship? We
would love to hear from you. Perhaps we can use some of your comments
about child sponsorship when we next revise this page.
You can email us: info@BigFamilyMinistry.org .