|   Posted: April 06, 2023

We love our sponsors' hearts for building relationships with the kids they sponsor — but how do we balance quick communication and child protection? Learn more about the future of sending messages of hope and love around the world!

Reimagining Letter Writing

We love our sponsors' hearts for building relationships with the kids they sponsor — but how do we balance quick communication and child protection? Learn more about the future of sending messages of hope and love around the world!

a girl writes a letter to her sponsor

“I wish I had a more authentic connection with the child I sponsor.” It’s one of the main things we hear from sponsors. In a world where instantaneous communication is the norm, the process of sending and receiving letters across the globe has felt increasingly slow and tedious. Gaps in communication were creating an obstacle to building authentic relationships.

A teen asks his sponsor to pray for his sick parent, but the sponsor doesn’t see the request for a month. A sponsor sends photos of her Christmas celebration that don’t arrive until Valentine’s Day.

Compassion has long wrestled with wanting to facilitate faster communication while also vigilantly upholding our commitment to child protection. How can we enable faster and easier communication while keeping steps that ensure that no child is taken advantage of or hears unwelcome messages?

That's where Compassion of Tomorrow comes in. This innovation team is designed to reach more children in poverty and improve the experience of children and sponsors. Each experiment they conduct and new product they test is built on the participation and feedback of supporters. They collect ideas around the things that delight sponsors, positively impact the lives of children, and solve issues that arise.

Soon after forming, the team recognized that letter writing sits at the intersection of delight and problem-solving. Letters are incredibly valuable — and they show an opportunity for faster and more convenient communication.

“Children, youths and sponsors are telling us they want an option for modern digital communication,” says Steve Grey, innovation specialist on the Compassion of Tomorrow Team. “To build valuable marketplace skills, many Compassion Child Development Centers teach digital literacy skills in computer labs. With those skills, children and youths see an opportunity to supplement letters with faster digital communication. And virtually every sponsor and child say they want more photos!”

Thousands of sponsors have already seen the benefits of Compassion Moments, a program that was recently piloted in a few countries and is now rolling out in each country where Compassion serves. Frontline Church Partners (FCPs) can quickly and easily upload photos from their Compassion centers, tagging the children in the photos and writing a brief caption.

These photos range from pictures with a birthday present to students in a vocational class to candid photos of children laughing and playing at the center. The photos are taken by staff and tutors who care deeply about child protection and understand intimately the importance of protecting the children in their care. For those sponsors who have signed up for digital communications, they are sent through email. Sponsors who prefer mailed communication will receive their photo in the mail.

“The picture I received showed me that my child is happy and healthy. It blessed my heart,” says a sponsor who received a thank you photo after sending a birthday gift. “It is also very comforting and reassuring to SEE what the financial support can do for my child and his family. It is a blessing for both of us.”

“We appreciate frequent communication, even if it is brief, especially in this pandemic time when we are concerned for the health of our sponsored children,” says another sponsor who received a candid photo of the child they sponsor. “Having daily life quick updates and photos keeps them in the front of our hearts, minds and prayers. It's a great reminder for us to write more frequently as well.”

While the process may take time, as it involves rolling out the program and training in 29 countries among more than 8,000 church partners, we have already sent more than 230,000 Compassion Moments – with more sponsors receiving photos each month. And that is just the first step toward reimagining what communications could look like between supporters and their sponsored children in the next few years.

“Compassion is exploring new ways for sponsors and youths to communicate. That could mean a message is received within 24 hours, including translation and child protection monitoring,” says Grey. “Not only would this revolutionize prayer requests or times of celebration, but it would also accelerate valuable digital literacy skills for the students.”

Compassion is committed to continued innovation around sponsor-to-child communications — including letter writing. Conversations with children and supporters around the world have only emphasized the power of having a physical letter to hold, especially in difficult times. And in your own life, think about the power of a quick prayer request delivered via text, as well as a treasured handwritten letter from a loved one.

Both are necessary. Both are powerful. And both are ways Compassion is committed to reimagining the future.

Write to Your Child

a young girl writes a letter to her sponsor

Even as we look to the future of letter writing, the notes you send today are still helping the child you sponsor build their future.

a young girl writes a letter to her sponsor