Letter-Writing Ideas - Compassion International

Letter-Writing Ideas

Letter writing is one of the most important aspects of the sponsor-child relationship, because in a relationship, communication matters. Letters are the heart and soul of this ministry.

For many of us, deciding what to write to our sponsored children is sometimes more difficult than writing itself, and the letters we exchange are the closest we’ll ever come to our sponsored children.

Even though we understand the importance of our letters, it still can be difficult to find the time to write a letter or know how to go about writing a letter to our sponsored child.

To help get you started, or to keep you motivated and writing regularly, we offer you this page of letter-writing ideas, tips and letter-writing prompts from our staff, other sponsors and even the children themselves. We hope you find the ideas helpful.

Your encouragement means the world to your sponsored child, so write letters often!


Your letters don't have to be long.


In fact, we request that you keep your letter's length to one page of printing or double-spaced type. Shorter letters take less time to translate, which helps your message reach your sponsored child more quickly.

You are welcome to write longer letters, but you shouldn't feel obligated to do so. Download our stationery or write a quick note on a card. However much you choose to write will be valued by your sponsored child.

You can also write online. Pick a fun template, write a few words, upload some photos, and you’re done. It’s a five-minute investment your child will never forget.

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Write about topics your sponsored child is probably familiar with.

Here are some topics that work well:

  • Describe your family. Share everything you are comfortable sharing that is age appropriate for your sponsored child.

    Talk about your children, parents, cousins, siblings, pets. etc. Tell stories about family members and friends, and tell your sponsored child why you’re thankful for them.

    Talk about your favorite memories. Talk about your childhood. Share funny stories (remember that time Fido ate the Thanksgiving turkey right off the table when the family wasn’t looking?!).

    Be sure to include photos of everyone. Sponsored children love to receive pictures of their sponsors' families.

  • Discuss your favorite pastimes. Explain what you did on vacation. Talk about the hobbies or sports you enjoy.


  • A description of your work, church or school would be of interest to your sponsored child. Work is an especially appropriate topic for older children.

    As you want to know what your sponsored child is learning at school, your child wants to know what you are learning at school or what your job is like. You might even find out you share a common interest.

  • Talk about your relationship with Jesus Christ. Your words can help your sponsored child understand that God is real.

    As you share prayer requests and remind your child that you are praying for him or her, share favorite Bible verses, and talk about your own faith journey, this will help shape your child’s journey as well.

  • Explain customs for special holidays. Tell your sponsored child how you celebrate Christmas or why Easter is such a big deal to your family. Share Fourth of July memories and write about the history of the holiday.

    Just as you are interested to know about your child and family, your child is delighted to hear details from you. Be careful not to talk too much about gifts, though, as children in poverty rarely receive gifts.

  • Provide a general description of the area where you live (no specific addresses, please). Share educational and fun information. Be descriptive and send photos if you have some.


  • Encourage your sponsored child in any success or milestone he or she has achieved. It may seem like you aren’t doing much, but you are! Your words of encouragement provide hope and fill your sponsored child with love.
  • Include some artwork.

Make sure you have your child's last letter on hand when you write a new one. Your child may ask you questions that you can use as a starting point for your letter.

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Ask questions.

Your questions will tell your sponsored child that you want to know him or her.

  • Do a bit of research about your child's country, and ask him about any upcoming national holidays.
  • Ask about church and her favorite Bible stories.
  • Ask about school. What are your sponsored child's favorite subjects in school? Who are your child's teachers? Find ways to encourage your child's strengths by asking questions about the things he or she is good at.
  • If you live somewhere where there are seasons, send photos with short descriptions. Most of the world doesn't have multiple seasons.
  • Ask your sponsored children about their friends. Ask their friends' names, and what they like to do with their friends for fun. What sports and games does your sponsored child play?

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Avoid these topics.

The list above is a good starting point for exploring together what you have in common. There are, however, a few things that might make your sponsored child feel uncomfortable or create expectations that can't be met. These include:

  • Elaborating on your material possessions (for example, the size of your home or kind of car you drive). This will only accentuate the difference between you and your child.
  • Suggesting that your sponsored child visit the United States.
  • Using slang or colloquialisms that would be difficult to translate or understand.
  • Asking what your sponsored child would like as a gift from you. In many countries we serve, such a question puts a child in a very awkward social position.

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Allow your sponsored child the appropriate time to develop letter-writing skills.

Children love to receive letters, but they may find it very difficult to write them. Letter writing can be a difficult concept for a child to understand who has always communicated verbally. Not all cultures have the same history of letter writing that we have in the U.S.

Younger children, children who start late in school, and children in remote locations will have the most difficulty writing letters. You'll receive about three letters a year from your sponsored child, and your sponsored child will write those letters himself if he is able. Otherwise, center staff or teachers will assist your sponsored child in writing.

In the learning process, some centers teach children to copy text from the board or use a "fill-in-the-blank" format to help them develop their writing skills. (Most children need some assistance until they reach the fourth grade; some children with disabilities need assistance throughout their time as sponsored children.)


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If you sponsor as a group...

It's best to appoint one person from your group to correspond with your sponsored child. It's far less intimidating for a child to talk with one person than before a group of adults.

The same principle applies to letter writing: the child will be most comfortable corresponding with one consistent person representing your group. Of course your group can construct composite letters to send to your sponsored child; simply have the same person close each letter with his or her personal name before the group name.

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What you can include with a letter to your sponsored child.

All of your correspondence should include a personal letter to your child. Enclosures received without a personal letter will not be sent along to your sponsored child.

  • Your letter and any enclosures should be completely flat and made of paper.
  • Letters and small, flat paper gift items should be no larger than 8.5” x 11".
  • Total number of items (including stationery) should not exceed six sheets of paper, including your letter to your child.
  • If items are in excess of six sheets, we will make every effort to donate the item to a local children’s charity. Items that cannot be donated will be discarded.

Only the following items will be physically delivered to your child.

  • Stickers
  • Bookmarks
  • Musical greeting cards

The following items will be scanned first and a digital print will be delivered to your child.

  • Letters
  • Photos
  • Postcards
  • Greeting cards
  • Coloring pages
  • Paper crafts

We do not keep or return undeliverable items.

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If you want more ideas and motiviation or have questions, use these resources.

Our letter-writing ideas and Second Friday Letter-Writing Club Pinterest boards may have just the thing you're looking for.

Each month the Second Friday Letter-Writing Club has letter-writing inspiration on topics and suggested questions to ask your sponsored children, plus links to ideas for things you can send to your children.

If you have any questions about writing letters to your sponsored child, our letter-writing FAQ is just the thing for you.

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