FAQ About Compassion International

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
What is Compassion International?

Compassion International is a Christian child development organization dedicated to releasing children from poverty. Our ministry to children is twofold: We work through local churches to provide child development programs to deliver children from economic, physical, social and spiritual poverty, enabling them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults. And we speak out for children in poverty – informing, motivating and equipping others to become advocates for children.

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What is your mission statement?

Releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name.

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How does Compassion work?

The hallmark of Compassion's work is one-to-one child sponsorship. A sponsor is someone who has made the decision to personally invest in the life of a child in need. Through sponsorship, children are able to participate in a church-based program that offers life-changing benefits that range from educational opportunities to health care.

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How and when did Compassion start?

Compassion began in the heart of one man moved by Korean War orphans in 1952. The Rev. Everett Swanson was on a successful preaching tour in South Korea when he encountered the bitter poverty of Korea's unwanted children. He knew he had to do something.

Upon his return to the United States, Everett established a program that allowed caring people to provide food, shelter, education, medical care and Christian training for Korean orphans. That program was, and remains, the foundation and core of Compassion International.

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Where does Compassion work?

Today Compassion works in 25 countries. In Africa, we work in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda. In Central America, we work in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and Mexico. In South America, we work in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. In Asia, we work in Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

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How does Compassion choose which countries to work in?

Compassion follows an in-depth process of investigation, analysis and research for God's direction to expand into new countries and communities. Compassion's criteria for opening a new country include:

  • God's leading. Each decision about a new country is wrapped in prayer. No country is selected unless the responsible staff are convinced of God's leading and blessing.
  • Need. Compassion works in some of the world's poorest communities. Local church partners then select the children in their communities who have the deepest need to participate in our program.
  • Strong local church partners. Christian leaders and churches must be willing to invite our ministry into their country and competent Christians to staff country offices and lead projects.
  • Risk management and legal issues. A country must not have legal barriers to our ministry. There must be a provision for international banking. Our work with the local church to encourage long-term Christian child development also must be understood and accepted.

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What makes Compassion stand out among other child development and/or sponsorship organizations?

Compassion is distinct from other organizations because we are:

  • Christ-Centered. Without coercion, we teach the life-changing gospel to every child in a culturally relevant way.
  • Child-Focused. Our ministry directly engages each child as a complete person.
  • Church-Based. We choose to partner with the church as a local group of believers who can teach, train and mentor children. This is done in partnership with parents and the community.

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Can you explain Compassion’s rating on Charity Navigator?

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, less than three months after awarding Compassion a 4-star rating for the exact same numbers.

There are two changes that had the most impact on 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.

Our commitment to stewardship has not changed even though the calculations of Charity Navigator have undergone revisions.

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

During Compassion's 60-plus years of development work, we've seen various approaches to breaking the cycle of poverty in children's lives. We've discovered 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. Many of these children grow up to become positive influences in their own communities.

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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-assisted child development center regardless of their faith. Compassion's program, however, is unapologetically Christian and every Compassion center is connected to a Christian church or ministry. We want children to have the opportunity to see living faith in action, hear the gospel and be discipled in the ways of Christ. But neither they nor their families are under any compulsion to become Christians.

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How much does it cost to sponsor a child through Compassion?

Sponsoring a child costs $38 a month. It's a significant commitment, but the incredible difference it makes in the life of a child is invaluable.

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What specific benefits does a child receive through sponsorship?

The children Compassion serves receive, among other things: the opportunity to hear the gospel and learn about Jesus; regular Christian training; educational opportunities and help; health care, hygiene training and supplementary food if necessary; a caring and safe Christian environment to grow in self-confidence and social skills; personal attention, guidance and love.

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Does each child have only one sponsor?

Yes. Each child has only one sponsor, which is why the sponsor's prayers, letters and support mean so much to a child. We believe that the relationship that develops between sponsors and children is instrumental in a child's growth and development. In addition, this one-to-one relationship provides children with the message that they matter, that they are valuable and that someone outside of their family cares about them and their future.

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Where can I log in to My Account?

You can log in to My Account from the upper right-hand corner of any page.

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Can I write my sponsored child a letter online?

Yes! You can write your child a lette at write.compassion.com.

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Where can I find out information on my child’s country?

Our Where We Work section contains general information about each country we work in, along with more specific information about major regions of each country.

You can also get information about your child's community and child development center from the My Sponsorships page in My Account.

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Can I visit my sponsored child?

Definitely! We offer pre-planned group sponsor trips and unique custom visits.

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What number can I call if I need more information?

You can contact us Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. MT. The telephone number is (800) 336-7676.

You can also send us a message or ask for help at support.compassion.com.

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What is AmazonSmile and how does it benefit Compassion?

AmazonSmile is a way for you to have 0.5% of your eligible Amazon.com purchases donated non-profit charities of your choice. It's free and easy to participate. All you need to do to support Compassion is:

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