How do you choose a child to sponsor?

Faced with the photos of many children all waiting for a sponsor, the decision can appear overwhelming. Here are some helpful tips that will make it easier...

So you’ve decided to sponsor a child.

It’s an incredible decision. You’re about to come alongside a local church in the developing world and bring powerful change to a child born into extreme vulnerability. You’re about to begin a friendship that could enrich your perspective and bring you phenomenal encouragement.

But where to start? How do you choose?

Faced with the photos of many children all waiting for a sponsor, the decision can appear overwhelming. Here are some helpful tips that will hopefully make it easier:

1. Longest waiting child

Sadly some children have been waiting many months for sponsors — which in the life and development of a child can feel like a long time. It’s an incredible privilege to be able to end a child’s wait and bring them the good news that they’ve been connected with a sponsor.

And your decision won’t just bring excitement to a child. The news of a sponsor brings joy and reassures a family facing the uncertainty of poverty that there will be provision, there will be support when things get unimaginably tough. I’m always struck by the words of Richmond Wandera, a Compassion graduate from Uganda:

“I got the news that a young lady, Heather, who was 15 years old – a teenager – had decided to sponsor me. I cannot find the words to describe the joy that filled our home when we got the news. ‘Richmond you’ve got a sponsor which means you can now go back to school."

On our website, you can see how many months each child has been waiting:

how to choose a sponsored child

And you can also search directly to find the longest waiting children >

2. Highly vulnerable children

On the advanced search options on our sponsorship page, you can find orphaned children who have lost one or both parents. You can also search for children who face the challenge of battling both poverty and an additional health need, whether physical or mental. Our world-class programme is a lifeline to the most vulnerable, providing additional medical care through our RESPOND ministry and the support of a caring church family. You can find out more about the difference sponsorship makes to children who have faced grief and loss too young by reading Ndanu and Fatima’s stories. And you can sponsor a child in a similar situation here>

kenya girls in red dresses infront of wall

3. Older children

Teenagers tend to wait longer for a sponsor than younger children. When a teenager is available for sponsorship, it is almost always because their previous sponsor has needed to end their support—a heart-breaking situation. It depends on the individual child, but sponsoring a teenager can mean you receive more detailed letters and build a letter-writing rapport with them more quickly than a younger child. For a teenager, your letters of support and encouragement can make a huge difference at a critical time in their life.

2 boys smiling

4. Your child’s age

Sponsoring a child the same age as one of your own children can lead to an extra special relationship. It’s a great way to teach your child about poverty and God’s heart for the poor. As Kate, one of our sponsors, explains, “We started sponsoring Lewis five years ago. Lewis is a big part of our family, we write letters, share pictures and get regular news of how he’s growing and developing. My children see that we as a family can make a difference.” You can search for children by age using the ‘age range’ bar on our sponsorship page.

5. By birthday

Did you know you can choose a child who has the same birthday as you? Sharing a birthday means you’ll have something in common right from the start. Search by birthday or by memorable date in the advanced search options on our sponsorship page.

6. By name

If you feel burdened to support a child with a specific name, again our advanced search options will be able to help. Just enter your name or word into our sponsorship search bar and see if there are any waiting children. Today you could sponsor Angel, Langenberg or Belkys for example.

7. By a country or an issue close to your heart

Poverty can leave children at risk to unthinkable situations. Each country has specific dangers and challenges facing children living in poverty. If there is an issue you’re passionate about, you may be able to sponsor a child from a country experiencing that issue.

girl smiles on swing in yellow dress

Types of threats to children:

Through our Child Sponsorship Programme, children are surrounded with caring adults who know them and can help intervene in dangerous situations. Here are some examples of threats to children in the countries where we work that may assist you in choosing your sponsored child.*

Child marriage

  • Percentage of women aged 20-24 years old who were first married before they were 18 years old:
  • Bangladesh (52%), Burkina Faso (52%), Ethiopia (41%), Ethiopia (41%), Nicaragua (41%).

Female Genital Mutilation

  • Percentage of girls aged 0-14 who have undergone FGM, as reported by their mothers:
  • Indonesia (49% in Islamic parts of the country), Ethiopia (24%), Burkina Faso (13%), Kenya (3%).


  • Estimated number of children living with HIV as of 2014:
  • Kenya (160,000), Uganda (150,000), Tanzania (140,000), Ethiopia (110,000), Rwanda (22,000).

Child labour

  • Percentage of children 5-14 years old who are involved in child labour:
  • Burkina Faso (39%), Rwanda (29%), Togo (28%) Guatemala (26%), Kenya (26%), Bolivia (26%), Ghana (22%).


  • Percentage of young people who attend secondary school:
  • Ethiopia (13% of boys/18% of girls), Burkina Faso (22% of boys/17% of girls), Rwanda (21% of boys/25% of girls), Uganda (20% of boys/21% of girls), Haiti (33% of boys/39% of girls).

We hope these tips will make your sponsorship decision a little easier. Whoever you decide to sponsor, thank you for bringing hope to a vulnerable child and their family.

*All statistics are from UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children report, 2016. A version of this blog was first published by our friends at Compassion Australia.

Becca Stanley

Words by Becca Stanley, Zoe Noakes


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