sponsor a child

16 Questions Most New Sponsors Ask, Answered

What can I send to my sponsored child? Can I sponsor their sibling? Can I visit my sponsored child? Here are 16 frequently asked questions from new sponsors.

Children in Togo in their classroom

1. When will my sponsored child be told about me?

It’s an exciting moment that we all wish we were there for!

Your sponsored child will be told you’ve sponsored them when their local church is notified. That could be within a few hours if internet access is available, but it could take a few weeks; it really just depends on the access to resources that the church has. Generally, your sponsored child will be told that they’ve been sponsored within the first month of you making the commitment.

When your sponsored child receives the news there will be a great celebration with lots of singing and dancing.

As a new sponsor you should have received a Welcome Pack. The beautiful image on the front of your folder is a group of Compassion-supported children outside their church-based Compassion project in Tanzania. Bring your folder to life and experience a snap shot of the celebration.

2. What should I write in my first letter?

Boys in Ethiopia writing letters

Writing your first letter can be a little daunting. But fear not!

Like all relationship building, we suggest starting with the basics; perhaps start by sharing a few key things about yourself. The younger the child, the simpler it can be.

We encourage you to include a photo of yourself, your family and maybe even a pet. Even better, use the Compassion UK App to take a selfie with your sponsored child’s photo and tell them that you consider them as part of the family!

Don’t forget to ask them about themselves. You could try the following:

  • Please tell me about your family.
  • What is your favourite subject at school?
  • What do you like to do outside of school?
  • What do you like about the Compassion programme?
  • What is your neighbourhood like?
  • How’s the weather?

To draw attention to questions for your sponsored child to answer, we recommend highlighting or underlining them.

Still unsure what to write? Read our 10 top tips for overcoming writer's block.

3. What can I send to my sponsored child?

You can send anything less than A4 x 6mm, and paper-based. This includes cards, stickers, origami, bookmarks, photos, postcards. We can only accept these types of gifts to pass on.

If you’d like to send a larger gift, please consider giving a child gift, birthday gift or family gift. This enables local staff to consult with your sponsored child and their family, and buy a gift locally that meets their needs and blesses them greatly. 100% of your gift goes to your sponsored child; there is no amount withheld for administration from these gift types.

4. How long until I receive a letter after first sponsoring?

You should receive a letter from your sponsored child within the first two months of receiving your welcome pack. This is often a basic introductory letter sharing some information about your sponsored child, their family and the area they live in.

Some Compassion church-based projects have children waiting for sponsors write this letter before they are officially sponsored and save it on file, so that you don’t have to wait as long for an initial letter when they get the good news!

We encourage you to write back as soon as you can; there’s no better time to start building your relationship than right away!

5. Can I write straight away?

Absolutely! You can do this through myCompassion or the Compassion UK App. If you prefer to write on paper by hand, you’ll find paper in your Welcome pack or you can drop us an email and we’ll send you some.

6. What is a Compassion project and is it different to school?

Your sponsored child attends a church-based Compassion project at least 44 days each year. Project activities are usually held on Saturdays or in the week before or after school. Alongside the Compassion project, your sponsored child may also attend a local school. Your support helps provide the uniforms and equipment they need.

7. Can I visit my sponsored child?

Sadly, due to COVID-19, we’re unable to facilitate any form of travel or visits at the moment. You’re welcome to register your interest by emailing toursandvisits@compassionuk.org and we'll be in contact when the situation changes.

Yes, you can! Every year, hundreds of our sponsors go on a visit and find meeting their sponsored child to be life-changing. Once you’ve been a Compassion sponsor for a year Compassion offers you the chance to visit your sponsored child either on a group tour or individual visit.

During your visit or tour you’ll be accompanied by a Compassion staff member from the relevant country for the duration of the visit with your sponsored child, to help you with translation and any relevant cultural expectations.

For an individual visit, our Tours and Visits team need a minimum notice of two months’ notice. This ensures that we have everything in place and it gives the local staff time to prepare.

8. What does my sponsored child actually receive with my contribution?

Health check in Bolivia

Your sponsored child receives your financial support through attending a Compassion child development centre, run in partnership with a local church partner. It should be noted that support is varied from country to country. For example, nutrition and supplementary food support may be more important in Africa, where as access to a safe place to play may be more important in South/Central America.

Local church partners determine the needs of their local community, and therefore your support ensures that children are given appropriate contextual assistance.

Children in the Compassion programme will receive:

  • access to healthcare (at least one check-up each year and further medical support if needed)
  • a healthy snack or meal each time they attend the centre
  • hygiene and sanitation training for children (and often parents and caregivers as well)
  • personal care, support and discipleship from local workers
  • financial assistance given for school fees, books, uniforms etc if necessary
  • vocational or tertiary education to ensure they are well prepared for employment and economic self-sufficiency

Please note that your sponsored child will not receive cash as part of your regularly monthly contribution.

9. What’s the different between the Compassion project my sponsored child attends and their school?

Each week your sponsored child is invited to attend activities at their Compassion project, located at the local church. During their time at the project children typically receive a snack, a meal or food parcel, they take part in lessons and activities as part of a specially designed curriculum and have the opportunity to play games or take part in vocational training.

If your child is school aged they may also attend a local school. Normally, project activities are held after school or on Saturdays.

10. How much does my sponsor child receive from my donation?

For every pound you donate, approximately 80% benefits Compassion-supported children through their participation in the Compassion programme. The remaining 20% goes to fundraising and administration costs. We’re strongly committed to financial transparency and accountability; that’s why our financial reports are online and we encourage you to check them out.

11. Can I sponsor their sibling too?

Generally, only one child per family is registered with Compassion to ensure as many families within the community are reached as possible.

However, in cases where families are significantly in need or vulnerable, more than one child may be registered at the discretion of the local church and project staff.

We cannot request specific children to be registered, but we encourage you to send a family gift to help meet the family’s needs. You could also include your sponsored child’s siblings in the letters you write and include small, paper-based gifts for them, too.

12. What’s a family gift?

When you give to the family of your sponsored child, your family gift is used to assist the greatest family need—whether that’s household food supplies, education resources, or even supplies to assist with running a local business. You can give a family gift between £15 and £750 annually.

100% of the gift amount is given to the child or family; no percentage is taken from the gift towards administration costs.

After your gift is received, you should receive a thank-you letter within six-eight months of sending the gift!

13. If I missed a payment, does that mean my sponsored child didn’t receive help?

If you miss a contribution, your sponsorship will be covered that month from Compassion’s Unsponsored Children Fund to ensure that your sponsored child, and their local church, does not miss out on financial support. Rest assured, your sponsored child will not lose their place in the sponsorship programme and they won’t go without.

Once you are able to catch up your contribution amount, this will backfill the covered contribution.

If you are in financial difficulty, we have many options to cover or assist with donations —please call us!

14. Why does a child leave the programme?

There are many reasons why a child could leave the sponsorship programme.

This could be because the child graduates, the family’s economic situation has improved so that they don’t need assistance, or the family move to find better employment opportunities or to be closer to family.

The expected graduation age is usually 22, although it can be around 18-19 in some countries.

Other reasons include moving away with no local church centre available in the new location, or unfortunately because of centre closure, non-compliance with programme policies, unexplained absence or if the family is no longer interested.

You will receive a letter or phone call if your child leaves the programme before their graduation date.

15. My sponsored child isn’t smiling in their picture, are they unhappy?

Photo day at the project

Your first photo of your sponsored child is a precious treasure, but when we see their face looking unhappy, stiff or even scared, we can’t help but think “what’s going on here?”

Keep in mind this is probably the first picture that’s ever been taken of your sponsored child. It might even be the first time they’ve seen a camera. While we’re used to being told to smile for photos, your sponsored child might look serious as a sign of respect.

On photo day, all the children line up and take it in turns to have their picture taken. Many aren’t used to so much individual attention being given to them and can look shy.

You’ll receive a new photo of your sponsored child every 12 to 18 months. Like all of us, some children will become naturals in front of the camera while others will remain shy.

16. What if I need to change my details?

You can update personal details such as your address or Direct Debit date by contacting our Engagement centre.

A version of this article originally appeared on Compassion Australia's blog.

WORDS : Compassion Australia

PHOTOS : Compassion International



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