Donation FAQs

Why does Compassion focus on individual child development rather than broader community development work?

Compassion has been involved in development work for over fifty years. During that time, we have tried various approaches to break the cycle of poverty in children's lives. We've seen that changed circumstances rarely change people's lives while changed people inevitably change their circumstances. Community development is important work that addresses the external circumstances of poverty and is an important complement to our work. However, our primary focus is individual child development — an inside-out, bottom-up approach that recognizes the God-given value and potential of each individual child. Very often, these children grow up to become positive influences in their own communities.

Your donation can make a difference in the lives of children in need. Please send your tax-deductible donation today.

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Don't Western sponsors raise unrealistic expectations among poor children in developing countries?

Children around the world are bombarded with images from Western media that promote materialism and highlight the disparity between the rich and poor. Child sponsorship provides a bridge between cultures and connects those from different worlds on a very human, caring level. Sponsors receive materials that provide guidelines for their contacts with children and staff screen correspondence for inappropriate or culturally insensitive materials. Because a sense of hopelessness is at the root of poverty, we want our programs to raise the hopes and expectations of children. We encourage sponsors to emphasize the rewards of faith and family and values such as health, productivity and generosity, rather than Western possessions or accomplishments.

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What makes Compassion stand out among other child care organizations?

As a Compassion sponsor, you'll discover Compassion's distinctive values:

  • A focus on child development: Our program targets the needs of individual children first. Many organizations focus on the needs of the community first. Both approaches have value but we believe Compassion's emphasis reminds everyone — staff, sponsor and child alike — that everything we do is based on the needs of the children we serve.

  • Working exclusively through local churches and Christian fellowships: We want sponsored children to view the benefits of Compassion sponsorship as an expression of God's love for them. We also want to equip the Body of Christ in the countries where we work with effective child development ministries so that church leaders and members around the world can become effective child advocates in their communities.

  • A goal of child discipleship: We believe the most loving thing we can do for children is to introduce them to Jesus Christ. Here's why:
    1. When children discover their worth to God, their self-esteem blossoms.
    2. Children who recognize their roles as disciples are a strategic part of today's Church.
    3. Children discipled in the Word and ways of God become our most potent weapon against tomorrow's poverty because they are tomorrow's Church.
Our goal, then, is to take a child from the brink of survival to abundant life as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

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Do children have to become Christians to continue receiving help from Compassion?

No. Children are welcome to participate in a Compassion center regardless of their faith. Compassion's programs, however, are unapologetically Christian and every Compassion center is connected to a Christian church or ministry. While we want children to have the opportunity to see living faith in action, hear the gospel and have an opportunity to be discipled in the ways of Christ,  neither they nor their families are under any compulsion to become Christians.

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How did Compassion begin and what is its current status?

In 1952, evangelist Rev. Everett Swanson was preaching in Korea. Moved by the plight of Korean war orphans, Swanson established a program through which caring people could provide food, shelter, education, medical care and Christian training for those orphans. Rev. Swanson's program became the basis for what is now Compassion International. 

More than 2 million children have been sponsored through Compassion; its history can be traced through more than 40 countries.

Compassion's Christian commitment has never wavered. We are keenly aware of the part we can play in fulfilling the Great Commission. All of our employees are committed followers of Jesus Christ, dedicated to developing children worldwide — and we are working exclusively through local churches and fellowships.

Currently, Compassion serves over 1 million children in more than 26 developing countries.

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Is Compassion affiliated with any church or denomination?

Compassion works with local church partners and fellowships representing more than 65 denominations. Our statement of faith is the same as that of the National Association of Evangelicals.

In which countries does Compassion work? 

In Africa we work in Burkina Faso*, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
In Central America and the Caribbean we work in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua.
In South America, we work in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
In Asia, we work in  Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand.

Learn more about where we work.

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What is Compassion International?

Compassion International is a Christian not-for-profit ministry dedicated to the long-term holistic development of children in poverty.

Our ministry of Christian child development is two-fold:

  1. We work through the local church to provide child development programs that release children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty, enabling them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults.
  2. We speak out on behalf of children in poverty, informing others of the needs and potential of children and motivating and equipping them to become increasingly involved in holistic child development.

Learn more about how making a charitable donation can make a difference in the life of a child in need.

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Does Compassion pool funds? Yes.

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How does Compassion pool funds?

Every month we put all the current sponsorship funds we receive into one central fund. Your monthly sponsorship payments are combined with the payments from other sponsors. The overhead and field support costs are deducted and then we divide the balance over the total number of sponsored children. The resulting figure is what will help each child for that month. With the help of our pooling system, every child in our program can count on consistent support.

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Is my cash donation to Haiti earthquake relief efforts applicable to my 2009 tax returns?

Yes. Charitable contributions made before March 1, 2010, in response to the Haiti earthquake can be claimed as itemized charitable deductions on your 2009 tax return instead of waiting to claim these on your 2010 tax return (see the House of Representatives bill H.R. 4462 passed 1/20/10).

As with any tax concern, please consult your own professional advisor to learn how a gift to Haiti relief bill will affect your tax situation.

Update: March 5, 2010 - Additional questions answered for people who gave to the Haiti earthquake relief efforts between Jan. 12 and March 1.
 

What percentage of my donation is tax-deductible?
One hundred percent of the funds you have provided for the relief of Haitian earthquake victims are eligible for the deduction.
 
Can I wait and claim this deduction in 2010?
Yes. The bill does not mandate that you claim the deduction in 2009; it simply offers the opportunity to accelerate your deduction into tax year 2009. If you have already submitted your taxes for 2009, or would prefer to claim this donation in 2010, standard practices for claiming donations will apply.
 
Will this donation be listed on my 2010 year-end giving statement from Compassion?
Yes. This gift, along with all other gifts made to Compassion, will appear on your year-end statement for 2010.

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Can I see a copy of Compassion's most recent audited statement?

Yes. Compassion is audited each year by an independent accounting firm. We publish this report in its entirety and make it available to anyone at any time. Accountability is a commitment and a value that drives our whole organization. We are committed to earning and keeping your trust.

If you have any questions about financial issues, please call us toll free at (800) 336-7676. Our Sponsor Relations representatives will gladly respond to any questions you might have.

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How much of a sponsorship gift goes to a child's program? Compassion is committed to seeing that 80 percent or more of our expenditures are used for program activities, including cash grants to child development centers, field training, program evaluation, communication between sponsor and child and other critical activities. We are also committed to carefully managing our administrative and fundraising costs in order to provide the most effective and meaningful programs possible.

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Does Compassion send assistance directly to children and their families? In most cases, no. Such direct aid can lead to misuse of funds, children's unhealthy dependency on an outside organization, and difficulty in monitoring individual development goals. Compassion funds church-based programs that provide developmental opportunities and benefits agreed upon by the church and Compassion. The standard is that funds are used on meaningful developmental opportunities for the program's children.

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Why does Compassion pool funds?

For a variety of reasons not all sponsors can be timely with their sponsorship support. Yet Compassion is committed to providing consistent service to registered children in our programs. Compassion's method of keeping program benefits consistent for sponsored children happens through pooling sponsorship funds to produce a level support system.

Without a pooling system, sponsored children whose sponsors were late with their support or simply did not send support would have their sponsorship benefits interrupted. If some sponsors do not send their support in a given month, the project would not have enough funds to provide the benefits for all of the children at their project.

In the United States the IRS has prohibited organizations from receiving donations and passing those funds directly to individuals. By pooling the benefits between all children, Compassion can qualify to issue tax-deductible donation receipts to our sponsors.

This approach also allows us to be better financial stewards of the resources God has blessed us with. For example, if we were to pass on to sponsored children the exact support amount sponsors have sent, we would have to manage the many different rates of sponsorship funds coming in. Project directors in our thousands of centers around the world would have to assign differing benefit amounts to each of our children in our centers. To accomplish this task, administrative costs would rise dramatically and we would have fewer resources to maintain the quality of our program. Pooling is a financially responsible option that ensures Compassion-assisted children receive consistent benefits.

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How does Compassion ensure that funds are making a difference in the lives of children? Compassion seeks out local partners who share our passion and vision for ministry. When they are as committed to the children as we are, they make sure that the funds are used effectively. In addition, we train and equip center workers so that they understand effective child development and good financial management. Compassion is totally committed to earning the trust of our donors and sponsors. Integrity is not only a commitmen but a value that drives our whole organization. Besides an annual audit of Compassion by an independent auditing firm, we regularly conduct our own audits to make sure that funds are properly received, tracked and managed in every center for every child.

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Are my contributions to Compassion, including my sponsorship support and other gifts, tax-deductible? Yes. All contributions to Compassion are tax-deductible in the United States. As a requirement of the 1993 Revenue Reconciliation Act, we verify that no goods or services of value are given to you for your contribution.

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