Child Sponsorship Questions

When it comes to sponsoring a child, the decision is not one to be entered into lightly. It's important to do your research and get answers to all your child sponsorship questions. We have compiled a list of the most frequently asked child sponsorship questions and provided answers to help you as you research.

Many of the most common child sponsorship questions focus on the topic of finances. If this is something you're interested in, read through the questions. We have lots of information regarding how your funds are used in the sponsorship process.

Another topic common among child sponsorship questions is regarding specifics about your relationship with your sponsored child. Our answers cover things like your sponsorship commitment, our gift policy, letter writing and communication, and much more.

Helping you find answers to all your child sponsorship questions is important to us. Please let us know if you have a question that is not included on this page, and we'd be happy to answer it!

Child Sponsorship FAQ
If I must discontinue my child sponsorship, what happens to the child I'm helping?

If you need to discontinue your child sponsorship, we will immediately look for a new sponsor for your child and continue the child's sponsorship support without interruption. You can discontinue your child sponsorship at any time.

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How long should my child sponsorship last?

Our Child Sponsorship Program offers you the opportunity to stay with a child for a number of years, usually through the school year in which the child reaches the age of 18 to 22 (varies by country).

While we hope that you will be able to continue your support of your sponsored child until he or she completes the program, we recognize that circumstances sometimes change. You may discontinue your child sponsorship at any time.

Please understand that a sponsored child's circumstances may change, too. For example, sometimes families move beyond the reach of our program and children no longer have the opportunity to participate.

We will inform you as quickly as possible if any such circumstance affects the child you sponsor, and we'll offer you the opportunity to support another child in need of your help.

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How much does it cost to sponsor a child?

If you choose to sponsor a child, the cost is only $38 per month.

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May I send gifts to my child?

Yes. We encourage you to give additional monetary gifts for special occasions, to address specific needs, or simply as an act of love. These gifts are another effective way for you to reinforce your care and commitment to your sponsored child.

Local child development center workers purchase gifts on your behalf and make certain that these funds are used appropriately.

You may also send a gift to your sponsored child's family. With your monetary gift, the child development center staff will buy items your sponsored child's family needs, such as new beds, livestock and food supplies. We will work closely with the family to determine the greatest need and then purchase items accordingly.

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Will I be the only person sponsoring the child I'm helping?

Yes. The child you're helping has just one sponsor: you. That's why your prayers, letters and support mean so much to your sponsored child. Even if you choose to sponsor a child as a family or a group (for example, a youth group or a Sunday school class), the child you help will still be relating to your family or group as his or her only sponsor. No other group or individual will also sponsor the child you help.

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What do I do if I am considering canceling my child sponsorship?

To inquire about canceling your child sponsorship, please call our contact center at (800) 336-7676. You may discontinue your sponsorship at any time.

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Why does it cost more to sponsor a child through Compassion than similar child sponsorship organizations?

We are a holistic child development ministry that focuses on the full development of the child. Because of that, we release children from poverty, not merely sustain them through it. Many organizations focus on only one aspect of poverty.   

We also recognize that the children we serve have unique needs and unique gifts. Therefore, we work at the grassroots level to identify and meet the specific needs of the world's poorest children through church partnership. In doing so, we address the spiritual, economic, social and physical aspects of poverty so that children may become responsible and fulfilled Christian adults.  

In addressing the many needs of children by partnering with the local church, we also rely heavily on the relational aspect of child sponsorship. We encourage you to have a close relationship with your sponsored children through consistent correspondence and communication, as well as personal visits. This separates us from other organizations.   

We are a Christian ministry that works through the local church, and therefore we do not accept government funds. This also distinguishes us from other child sponsorship organizations.  

Our holistic ministry is:

  • Child focused – We are committed to making a difference in each child's life. Local staff is personally acquainted with each child to minister to his or her unique needs. We believe in ministering to individual children because they will be the ones to better their communities and nations in the future.
  • Christ centered – We commit to honor Jesus Christ in all that we do. Every child who participates in a Compassion program is given the opportunity to learn about Jesus Christ and discover how to develop a lifelong relationship with God.
  • Church based – We work exclusively through indigenous churches to create child development ministries so that church leaders and members around the world can become effective child advocates in their communities. Instead of throwing money at a problem, we believe in bringing long-term change.

By adhering to our core principles, we have become a leader among child development organizations and as such have often set the pace for other organizations to follow suit in raising their sponsorship rates.

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What specific benefits will the child I sponsor receive?

The child you sponsor will receive opportunities and services that most of the world's poorest children never see. These opportunities and services include:

  • The opportunity to receive an education:

    In some cases, this means providing the cost of school fees, clothing and supplies. In other cases, it means providing tutoring, help with homework, encouragement and, if necessary, participation in a literacy program outside the classroom. Your sponsorship will allow one special child to stay in school longer if formal schooling is an option and get the most out of his or her education.

  • The opportunity to be healthy:

    The health of the child you sponsor will be monitored and care will be provided as needed. Children are taught about hygiene and how to maintain personal health. In addition, and according to their needs, many of the children we assist receive supplementary food.

  • The opportunity to develop self-confidence and social skills:

    The child you sponsor will be part of a church-based program where Christian adults offer love, guidance, personal attention, guided recreation and safety.

  • The opportunity to hear the gospel and learn about Jesus:

    Most important, your sponsorship provides the child you sponsor with regular Bible training and encouragement through a local church committed to Christ and the children in its community.

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How important is prayer in Compassion sponsorship?

Prayer is a critical. Your sponsored child is in need and vulnerable.

Your prayers for the health, safety, education and spiritual development of your child are critical. Sponsored children are greatly encouraged when they hear that their sponsors are praying for them.

Remember that the child you sponsor will likely pray for you, too. Often, a sponsored child's family and church join in prayer with the child on behalf of a sponsor. As you share your own family and personal concerns with the child you support, you'll probably discover that he or she is consistently praying for you.

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Must I hold and practice specific Christian beliefs to sponsor a child through Compassion?

We do not require you to sign a statement of faith or a statement regarding your religious beliefs and practices. We do, however, seek sponsors who are aligned with our ministry approach and philosophy.

We are an evangelical Christian ministry dedicated to the holistic development of children in poverty. We carry out our programs by partnering with local Christian churches around the world who share our vision for ministry and conduct Christian outreach to local children and families. The partnerships we enter into with these local churches are based upon a universal statement of faith developed by the National Association of Evangelicals.

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What is a Compassion sponsor?

A sponsor is someone like you who has made the decision to personally invest in the life of a child in need. As a sponsor, you enable your sponsored child to participate in a church-based program that offers life-changing benefits including help with:

  • education
  • health care
  • social skills development
  • Christian training

And more than this, you can help your sponsored child develop a sense of confidence and self-worth with the love you express through letters and prayers.

As a sponsor, you are assured that there is a real connection between you and the specific child you support. The child you sponsor will know your name, write to you and benefit directly from your monthly sponsorship.

Your relationship with your sponsored child makes you a very important person who has a significant role in his or her development. You stand alongside parents, pastors, teachers, family and friends who are taking an active role in encouraging and developing the child.

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As a sponsor, how else can I learn about the child I am helping?

In addition to letters from your sponsored child, we will send you periodic updates about your child's progress and newsletters about situations in your child's country that affect child development and our program there. You'll have a better understanding of your sponsored child's culture and life. It's quite likely that your vision of God's kingdom will expand. You may even decide to visit your child.

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What other opportunities will I have to learn about the child I'm helping?

In addition to letters from your sponsored child, we will send you periodic updates about your child's progress, Compassion Magazine — a publication about our work worldwide, and regular newsletters about your sponsored child's country and our program there.

You'll have a better understanding of your sponsored child's culture and life and it's quite likely that your vision of God's kingdom will expand, too. You may even decide to visit the child you sponsor.

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How can I communicate with the child I sponsor?

Once you've become a sponsor, we provide you with a special correspondence packet that includes stationery, an envelope and practical suggestions about writing the child you're helping.

We encourage you to send your sponsored child a personal or family photograph and a short letter of introduction. Our field staff will translate your letter and deliver it to the child you support. Sponsored children typically keep their sponsors' photos and letters in their homes as treasured possessions.

You may write to the child you sponsor as often as you like. When you write, your sponsored child will benefit from knowing that someone in addition to his or her family really cares. Your words of encouragement will make a big difference to your child.

Correspondence between sponsors and the children they support is truly developmental. The more you write the child you sponsor, the more he or she will reap the benefits of your relationship.

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Will my child write to me?

Your child will write to you at least twice a year — and up to six times per year depending on the frequency of your letters. A teacher or staff person will help children who have yet to learn how to read and write.

As you share your own family and personal concerns with the child you support, you'll probably discover that he or she is consistently praying for you.

As your exchange of letters with the child you sponsor grows over the years, you can build a scrapbook of letters and photos from your child. Your scrapbook will serve as a constant reminder of the relationship you've developed with the child you're helping and of how you've contributed to his or her growth.

You will also be receiving annual correspondence from local leaders, such as a church pastor or staff member, to help you learn even more about your sponsored child. 

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Is there anything I cannot send to my sponsored child?

As a sponsor, you have many opportunities to communicate with the child you sponsor and we encourage you to do so. When you communicate with him or her, however, we ask you to provide comments and materials consistent with the Christian values and philosophies we share with our partnering churches. We will not forward photographs and other materials depicting activities that:

  • Might be considered inappropriate in another culture.
  • Promote lifestyle choices that we view as unhealthy and inconsistent with biblically based lifestyles or otherwise inappropriate for sponsored children.
  • Might threaten the safety of the sponsored children in any way.

For example, we will not forward materials that depict or describe the use of alcoholic beverages, tobacco, unlawful drugs and materials or activities that we regard as dangerous or unsafe. We will not forward materials or communications that advocate another religious worldview. In addition, we will not forward materials depicting persons dressed in immodest clothing or engaging in activities inconsistent with our ministry values and beliefs.

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What makes Compassion stand out among other child care organizations?
  • A focus on child development: Our program targets the needs of individual children first.
  • Working exclusively through local churches: We want sponsored children to view the benefits of child 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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In which countries do you work?

Currently we work in 26 countries, divided into four areas:

  • Africa: Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda.
  • Central America and the Caribbean: the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua.
  • South America: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
  • Asia: Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

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Does Compassion partner with Christian musicians, speakers and ministries?

Yes, over the years we have partnered with many Christian musicians, speakers, promoters and ministries who share our heart for impoverished children around the world.

These spokespeople not only have a strong desire to serve as advocates for children in need but they are also sponsors of children themselves. In fact, the great majority have visited our child development centers in developing countries and witnessed the life-changing effects that child sponsorship brings.

Our partnership many times includes financial assistance for these artists, speakers and ministries. This does not make their passion to help the poor any less significant. We want to honor the kingdom-building work that God has called these ministries to accomplish. These partnerships are relationships built on kingdom efforts, mutual respect and trust.

Our investment in this area has a twofold benefit: Tens of thousands of new child sponsorships are acquired while supporting other Christian ministries that are also building God's kingdom. Therefore, we feel these relationships are both fiscally and spiritually responsible.

Note: As a part of our longstanding commitment to financial accountability and stewardship, we invest less than 10 percent of our total expenses in fundraising activities.

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How did Compassion begin?

Our history can be traced through more than 40 countries over 60 years.

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.

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.

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Is Compassion affiliated with any church or denomination?

We work with local church partners representing more than 65 denominations. Our statement of faith is the same as that of the National Association of Evangelicals.

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How does Compassion ensure that my support actually benefits the child I sponsor?

We work exclusively through local churches to assist children. Because child development centers tend to average about 180 children, the local staff can become personally acquainted with each sponsored child and his or her unique needs.

We conducts audit regularly to make sure funds are properly received, tracked and managed. Every financial process — from local child development centers to the Global Ministry Center in Colorado Springs — is regularly audited both internally and externally.

But it's not enough to ensure that funds are reaching your child's development center and being spent on planned activities. Like you, we want to be sure that real development is taking place in the life of every sponsored child. We work hard to monitor and evaluate each local center in terms of program effectiveness and long-term impact — right down to the individual child. Any time we see an irregularity, we take immediate and appropriate action.

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

Yes. we are 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 totally 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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Are my contributions to Compassion, including my child sponsorship support and gifts, tax-deductible?

Yes. All contributions 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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What percentage of expenditures are spent on program activities?

Throughout the years, we have consistently averaged more than 80 percent of total expenditures applied to program activities, with less than 20 percent being used for fundraising and administration.

We use conservative accounting methods that do not inflate our effectiveness in this regard. That's why we earn the very highest ratings from independent agencies that look into the financial management of nonprofit organizations.

Learn more about our commitment to financial integrity.

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Can you explain Compassion’s rating on Charity Navigator?

Compassion International has enjoyed 15 consecutive years of Charity Navigator's highest rating — with our most recent 4-star rating coming in April 2016. However, on June 1, 2016, Charity Navigator introduced a revised method of calculation for the charities they review. This revised system altered Compassion’s 4-star rating to a 3.

There are two changes that impacted Compassion’s rating. First, Charity Navigator’s updated criteria removed “revenue growth” as a measure they evaluate. Even during difficult financial times in the economy, God has blessed Compassion with dedicated sponsors and donors who care deeply about impacting children around the world, allowing our ministry to continue to grow year over year. Second, the revenue growth metric was replaced by a “debt to asset ratio.” This ratio measures the assets a charity holds on its financial statements. This change impacts Compassion’s rating negatively because we choose to send dollars to the Implementing Church Partners every month for our programs that impact children.

Since 1952, Compassion's ministry model has proved to provide immense stability in the face of various economic situations. We believe our sponsors and donors are best served when their dollars are quickly put to use releasing children from poverty, not sitting unnecessarily idle in an account.

Compassion’s strong commitment to financial transparency, integrity, and our core purpose of releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name is and will continue to be unwavering. Be assured, Compassion is committed to invest at least 80 cents of every dollar to fund the programs that benefit our Compassion-assisted children. For fiscal year 2015, 81.8 cents of every dollar were applied to these programs. In other words, our commitment to stewardship has not changed even though the calculations of Charity Navigator have undergone revisions.

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