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Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
In Northern Nevada
Donating to Child Sponsorship Organizations

What is Child Sponsorship?

Child sponsorship involves soliciting funds to assist needy children within a specified community in another country or in the US. In these programs, donors are expected to make more than a one-time gift and to contribute a certain amount on a monthly or periodic basis.

Alliance reports on organizations with child sponsorship programs include those charities’ descriptions of those programs.

If you’re interested in child sponsorship, you’ll want to consider these questions:

Will Donations Be Directed to Help an Individual Child?

A commonly misunderstood aspect of child sponsorship groups is that, in most cases, sponsor contributions are pooled with other donations and used to support projects designed to benefit the local community where the child lives rather than being conveyed exclusively to the child. These community projects may include schools, medical care, disaster assistance, construction of water wells, and/or food distribution activities. Although some organizations do allocate a certain amount of the sponsor's contribution as a cash grant to the sponsored child's family, this practice is far less common than pooling donations for use in the child’s community. Potential donors should read the charity's literature carefully to learn the nature of the child sponsorship program asking for their support.

How Are Sponsored Children Selected by the Charity?

Children who are featured within a sponsorship program are usually nominated by the charity's field staff, or by projects of local welfare agencies that the charity helps subsidize.

Can Donors Correspond With or Visit the Sponsored Child?

Most sponsorship charities help arrange and encourage correspondence between participating sponsors and children. Ordinarily, letters must go through the organization rather than being sent to the child directly. If the child speaks a language other than English, translation of letters is performed either at the headquarters of the charity or by a member of its local field staff. Visiting sponsored children is generally neither encouraged by child sponsorship charities nor financially practical for most sponsors, but visits sometimes occur. Those interested should contact the charity about its policy on visiting a sponsored child.

Other Questions

Do I agree with the overall philosophy of the organization in its approach to assisting communities? For instance, do I agree with the religious focus a program may have?

Have I researched the child sponsorship organization? For example, do I know what portion of my contribution will be spent on programs to assist needy children versus the charity's fund raising and administrative expenses?

Am I willing to accept the fact that the child may live in cultural and economic conditions different from those to which I am accustomed?

If the program involves correspondence with the sponsored child, am I willing to make a commitment to regular communications and am I prepared to be able to tolerate and allow for potential delays in mail?