By: Ian Butler   |   Posted: October 06, 2023

Theme it. Schedule it. Show it with a picture.

How to Write Letters in the New Year That Sponsored Kids Love

Theme it. Schedule it. Show it with a picture.

Written by Ian Butler
Photography by Lina Marcela Alarcón Molina
boy smiles and lies on letters shaped as a heart

So, you want to write more letters to your sponsored child this year. You’re not alone. With few exceptions, most sponsors wished they wrote more letters. After all, letter writing makes a tremendous impact on your sponsored child. Research suggests letters encourage kids to pursue their dreams and deepen their relationships with Jesus. And the new year is the perfect time to resolve that you’ll spend more time encouraging the child you sponsor.

But unless this is your first New Year’s Resolution rodeo, you know that good intentions only go so far. It’s one thing to say that you’ll write your sponsored child more often this year. It’s another thing to find the time and the words to make it happen.

Fear not! You’ve come to the right place. Compassion has sent millions of sponsor letters to kids in poverty worldwide over the last 70 years. You could say we’ve become experts at letter writing!

Here’s a simple process we’ve honed over the years to write letters that kids love and build them in confidence and faith. And at the end, we’ll include a simple template you can copy and paste to streamline the process.

Schedule it.

The absolute best way to write more letters this year is to schedule letter writing days for each month.

Why? Because finding time is one of the most common barriers to writing. Your life is probably busy. With all the responsibilities you face each day, writing letters can slip through the cracks. It becomes yet another goal that you remember while brushing your teeth and resolve to act on tomorrow, only to completely forget by the morning.

Scheduling 30 minutes each month in advance commits you to making that goal a reality. It dedicates just a fraction of your day to making a difference in a child’s life.

Plus, you’ll likely find that your letters get better! After all, you get 30 minutes once a month to write those letters. No more agonizing about whether to say “hi” or “hey” to your sponsored child. Whatever you write is what you send.

And guess what – your first idea is almost always your best idea! Write fast, write from the heart, and you might be surprised by how much more fun writing becomes!

So, choose one day per month to write letters. Save it in your calendar. On that day, set a timer for 30 minutes. Sit down and write. Whatever you write in those 30 minutes is your first and final draft. Trust us, you’ll write more and better letters than if you wait around for inspiration to strike.

Bonus tip: Try writing your letters on the Compassion website. It’s an easy way to skip out on buying envelopes, stamps and bemoaning your handwriting!

Theme it.

But you can make letter writing even easier! How? By choosing a theme.

Your theme doesn’t have to be earth-shattering. In fact, it’s probably best to start with a simple theme, especially if the child you sponsor is young!

Here are a few themes you can choose in advance to write about:

  • Holidays. Choose a holiday from the current month and describe your celebration. Ask about the holidays they celebrate!
  • Prayer. Share some details about your prayer life, like who you pray for and your prayer routine. Then, share some ways they can pray for you and ask for prayer requests!
  • Family. Talk about the last visit you had with your family. Share a fun story or something special about a family member.
  • The sunset. Tell them about the last time you saw a beautiful sunset. Ask if they’ve seen a sunset recently.

To incorporate your theme, start by greeting your sponsored child and saying you hope they’re doing well. If you’re responding to a letter, thank them for writing you and respond to what they’ve shared.

Then, introduce the theme. Say something like, “I’m excited to write you about something that’s been on my mind lately.” The key is to communicate your excitement to share with them!

Then, share the theme. Bonus points if it’s a story! Find ways to tie the theme to God ("Every time I see the sunset, I thank God for his creation!") or the gospel ("My favorite part about Christmas is remembering that Jesus became a human to pay for my sins."). Keep the conversation going by asking about their stories and experiences.

And always wrap up your letters by letting the child know you love them, believe in them and are praying for them because you know God loves them. Those words of hope will stay with them for years!

Show it with a picture.

No one loves pictures more than kids.

That’s why you should include pictures with every letter you send. It could be a photo of your family, a stick figure drawing of your dog or a snapshot of the sunset. If it’s appropriate and goes with the theme, it’s fair game.

And rest assured that kids won’t care about the quality. They’re not looking for the Sistine Chapel.

Why? Because it gives a new dimension to your letters. Pictures breathe life into your words, adding another layer of insight and delight that the kids are happy to receive. They help kids pray for a person with a face, not just a name on a page.

And believe us when we say these kids cling to that encouragement. That’s why kids will often frame letters and pictures from sponsors on their walls. Because it’s proof that someone they’ve never met loves them and believes in them.

Bonus tip: Writing and sending letters from our website makes it easy to share pictures. Just attach the file and send!

Tying it all together.

First, choose one day each month for letter writing. It helps to decide on a theme for each month in advance.

On that day, set a timer for 30 minutes. Start the timer and get to writing.

Greet the child and ask how they’re doing. Then, say that you’re excited to write them about your theme.

Share a story about the theme and ask about their experience. Tie it to the gospel at the end. Include pictures here, too!

Wrap it up by telling them that you love them and are praying for them and that God loves them too. Ask for ways to pray for them and share prayer requests with them.

Here’s a sample letter that puts all these ideas into practice!

Dear Javier, I hope you’re doing well and enjoying your time at the Compassion center. Today, I’m excited to write to you about Christmas! This year for Christmas, my family visited my parents in Tennessee. We arrived after dark and woke up my husband’s mom by mistake. The next day, we woke up early and opened Christmas presents. Here’s a picture of us around the Christmas tree! My favorite part of Christmas is remembering what Jesus did for me. He became a man so that he could pay the price for my sins and so I could have hope. I’m so thankful for Jesus! How does your family celebrate Christmas? Tell me all about it next time you write! My family and I are praying for you, Javier. We’re so happy that you’re learning and growing, and we’re so proud of you. God loves you, and no matter what, he’s on your side! Please pray that we continue to love and serve God with all our hearts. How can we pray for you? Love, Sandy.

Sure, it’s not Hemingway. But it’s from the heart, it’s personal and shows that you care. Here it is in condensed outline form. Feel free to copy and paste it and use it for later!

Dear [Child Name], I hope you’re doing well and enjoying your time at the Compassion center. Today, I’m excited to write you about [theme]! [In three or four sentences, tell a story about the theme.] [In two sentences, tie the theme to the gospel.] [Ask a question about the child’s experience with the theme.] [Let the child know that you love them and are praying for them.] [Share a prayer request and ask for prayer requests.] Love, [Your Name]

As time goes by, you’ll likely need this template less and less. It’s normal for your correspondence with the child you sponsor to evolve and grow.

But for now, consider this template a belated gift from your friends here at Compassion to ring in 2024. We hope it sparks many letters from you to your sponsored children this year and beyond!

Provide Encouragement

Child dancing with letters

Put these tips into practice by writing a letter!

Child dancing with letters