FAQ - About child sponsorship

If you’re thinking about sponsoring a child but want to learn more, you’ve found the right place! We’re here to help. Our child sponsorship programs share God’s love and empower children, their families, and communities out of poverty. Check out these top 5 FAQs about sponsoring a child to get started.

Top 5 Sponsorship Questions

Does World Vision child sponsorship work?

Our child sponsorship program addresses the root causes of children’s vulnerability, empowering children, their families, and their communities to break free from poverty. We take a comprehensive and integrated approach to community development, using evidence-based interventions in our programming that are externally validated. When we partner with communities, we start by inviting them to identify their greatest needs. Then we work together to develop a plan, equipping them with resources to address their specific challenges—like improving water and sanitation, health and nutrition, education, child protection, and spiritual nurture.

And it’s effective! Our holistic, community-empowering approach is helping kids and families transform their own lives.

In places where we work:

    • Kids are healthier: Over a five-year period, 89% of the severely malnourished children we treated in severe relief environments made a full recovery. This expertise informs our nutrition programs in all the communities we work.
    • More children have local health services: In Zambia, moms in areas where we run health and nutrition programming are 6X more likely to get healthcare that is designed to boost newborn survival compared to mothers in areas we haven’t yet reached.
    • Kids are thriving in school: In Bangladesh, children’s reading comprehension was measured at 68% in schools using our literacy program, compared to 4% in schools without the program.
    • Water solutions are long-lasting: A study conducted by the University of North Carolina’s Water Institute found that 8 in 10 of our wells drilled in Ghana were still functioning at high levels after nearly two decades. This is 33% higher than the industry average of 6 in 10.
    • Young people are growing in their faith: In our sponsorship programs in Central America, 85% of children say they experience God’s love and almost 90% of children and youth are taking part in activities like Sunday school and youth ministry.

What makes World Vision distinct?

We go to some of the world’s hardest places and serve the most vulnerable people. Serving the poor in Jesus’ name, we go to the world’s most fragile places—where life is toughest for kids, and where many other organizations can’t go. Through child sponsorship and other critical projects, we work in eight of the 10 poorest places in the world, as measured by the United Nations’ Multidimensional Poverty Index.
Our community-empowering approach impacts more children. We work hand in hand with families and local leaders to achieve community-wide solutions like clean water, healthcare, and education—so all kids can benefit, not just those who are sponsored.
Our work has lasting impact. Our community development projects lead to sustainable change because we rely on local resources. Families and individuals co-own project leadership and activities from the start, which helps the change last.
We serve all people. Our staff in nearly 100 countries serve those of all faiths and none, demonstrating our faith in Jesus in culturally appropriate and respectful ways.
We help create change for children at every level. Our goal is nothing less than children’s complete well-being—spiritual, physical, emotional, and social. We partner with individuals, organizations, and governments to change systems and structures that keep people trapped in poverty.

Are the children “real”? Are other people sponsoring the same child?

Each child in our sponsorship program is matched with one sponsor. You are the only sponsor for your sponsored child. They’re real children with real stories. You can get to know your sponsored child through letters and photos, packages, and email. You can even visit your sponsored child and see how your donation is helping transform their community.

Will my sponsored child write to me?

When you first sponsor a child, you’ll receive a letter from them introducing themselves. Following that first letter, you’ll set the pace for communication, as your sponsored child will write in response to the letters you send — up to four times a year.

Letter writing helps your sponsored child practice their literacy skills as they learn to describe their family, friends, and interests — and receiving your letters in return is a fantastic reward for all their hard work! Sponsored kids who exchange letters with their sponsors are happier, more confident, and even more hopeful about their futures.

It’s quick and easy to send your child an email through My World Vision in the app or online — learn more about how to email your child. It only takes a few minutes to craft a message using our fun Letter-Writing Templates, and you can even add a personal touch by including a photo. Your child’s response will be available in your My World Vision account as a digitally scanned copy. We’ll notify you on the app or your email inbox when your child’s letter arrives, so keep an eye out for the notification. If you prefer you can also write via mail —  learn more about how to mail your child a letter. Please note to better steward gifts and resources from sponsors like you and to give our staff more time to focus on kids’ child reply, letters are scanned, printed, and mailed to you.

Does my monthly donation go straight to the child’s family?

Through World Vision child sponsorship, you’re connected with one specific child, but your monthly sponsorship donations are pooled for maximum effectiveness. This means that instead of giving direct cash benefits to one child, you join forces with other sponsors to fund long-term community development programs that benefit your sponsored child, their community, and other children in need so they can overcome poverty and thrive. Some organizations focus on providing handouts or only helping individual sponsored children, but we’ve learned this can divide communities and slow progress. In other parts of the world, societies are much more communal and less individualistic than western cultures, so a community-based model is more effective.

How child sponsorship works

What is World Vision child sponsorship and how does it work?

Child sponsorship is an opportunity to personally connect with a child, family, and community in need. You’ll walk alongside them as they work on lasting solutions to fight poverty and help vulnerable children reach their God-given potential.

When you become a child sponsor, you’ll start to build a relationship with one special child. You can connect with your child by writing letters and emails or sending cards and gifts. Knowing that someone far away cares about them and their future will be a great encouragement for a sponsored child.

Our decades of experience have proven that the most effective way to help a child is to strengthen the child’s entire community. We do this by pooling your monthly sponsorship donations with those of other sponsors to provide the assistance that children and families living in poverty need most. Your generous donations will help your child, their community, and other children in need by providing vital resources like clean water, nutritious food, healthcare, education, economic opportunities, and more.

Each community that we work with faces different challenges and has different needs, so the work we do is unique to each community. We listen to the people in the community to understand the issues hindering children from reaching their full potential and partner with them to address their short-term and long-term needs. We also work with local groups—such as churches or government organizations—to build stronger communities.

How do I know if sponsoring a child through World Vision is right for me?

Here are 5 ways to know:
1) You want to show God’s love to kids who live in the world’s most vulnerable places.
We work in many of the world’s most fragile places, serving all people, regardless of their faith or background. Our staff are a witness to God’s love in life, word, and deed—demonstrating our Christian faith in culturally appropriate and respectful ways. We build bridges among faith leaders, partnering with local churches, community groups, and other organizations to reach our goal of fuller lives for children.

2) You want to personally empower a vulnerable child and their family to change their future.
Each child in our sponsorship program is matched with only one sponsor. As a sponsor, you’ll establish a relationship with your sponsored child, learning their unique story and the specific plans to equip them and their community for transformation.

3) You want to impact more than just one child through your sponsorship donations.
Through World Vision child sponsorship, you help empower entire communities because your monthly sponsorship gifts are pooled for maximum effectiveness. Instead of giving direct cash benefits to one child, you join other sponsors to fund long-term community development programs that benefit your sponsored child, plus other children in need. Some organizations focus only on helping individual sponsored children, but we’ve learned this can divide communities and slow progress. In other parts of the world, societies are much more communal and less individualistic than western cultures, so a community-based model is more effective.

4) You want the impact you make to be sustainable.
We believe that change lasts when it’s locally owned, so we support communities until they can continue the progress on their own. On average, we stay in a community 15 years, but our goal is for people to take the lead in their own lives.

5) You think children should be seen—and heard.
Children and families are integral to decisions about the work we do. Through advocacy training and biblically based workshops, children are empowered to speak up as agents of change in their homes, their communities, and their governments.

Do sponsored children receive more help than other children living in the same community?

World Vision’s Sponsorship program is a demonstration of God’s love for all children in a community—not just those fortunate to be sponsored. The children who are registered into our Sponsorship program are the most vulnerable children in the community and are considered representatives of all children in the broader community.

Although our goal is to help all children in a community, sponsored children can significantly benefit from the personal relationship they build with their sponsors. The cards, letters, and prayers they receive from their sponsors are a great source of encouragement and help children build self-esteem and realize their self-worth in a world where poverty tells them that they don’t matter.

World Vision may occasionally provide specific support to sponsored children where the lack of these resources would serve as a barrier to their well-being and when family, community or government capacity to provide these resources is insufficient or absent. The aim in these instances is to move away from direct benefit support and move towards more sustainable and empowering development practices that would benefit all children in the community.

How does World Vision express Christian faith in highly sensitive political, cultural or religious contexts?

Wherever World Vision works, we identify ourselves as representing a Christian organization. We support verbal proclamation of the Gospel whenever it is possible. However, in some cases this is forbidden in the countries where we serve.

We work in a wide range of contexts and communities, from those where Christians are free to express their faith, to others where they may face imprisonment or even death for speaking about Christianity. We practice and communicate our faith in ways that are sensitive and appropriate for the audience and the cultural context in which we work. But we never deny our Christian faith.

Look for the Sensitive Area Alert icon under your child’s picture in My World Vision to see if they live in a community that is sensitive to Christianity.

We serve all people, regardless of their faith. We work in communities where we’re welcome, including many where other faiths are practiced. We respect the communities where we work, while making it clear that we are a Christian organization. Our staff seek to pray for all people to whom they minister and hope, in restricted contexts, that their lives and deeds will be testimony to the power of the Gospel.

In some countries and communities where Christianity has a small presence, we may hire staff of other faiths. However, these staff members follow our core values, and World Vision always is identified as a Christian organization. Our staff works hard to ensure that the way they live, the words they use, and the deeds they do point others to a loving God.

Our goal is for our Christian faith to be woven through all we do and not as an “add on” to development projects. We never require that those we serve listen to a religious message or convert to Christianity as a condition of aid.

Learn more about our faith in action.

How long does the commitment to sponsorship last?

Sponsoring a child is an ongoing commitment where you’re able to help meet the basic needs of a child by investing in their community, as well as build a relationship and watch them grow up until they, or their community, become independent. Sponsoring a child is like inviting another person into your family.

How long will I be able to sponsor the same child?

Sponsorship is a long-term commitment; however, the length of each sponsorship depends on the needs of the child and their community. Your child’s age of independence or circumstances will vary from country to country. Sponsorship may end for any of the following reasons:
  1. The community has “graduated.” The goal of sponsorship is to help break the cycle of poverty so children and families can step into the future with well-founded hope. When sustainability goals are met, projects are phased out and we move on to serve children in great need in other communities. This is a time for celebration!
  2. Your child becomes self-sufficient. In many cases, children are sponsored until they finish school, reach the age of independence in their community, are able to support themselves, or marry.
  3. The family has moved to a different community. Occasionally, circumstances arise that mean a child must leave the sponsorship program. For example, a child’s family may move out of the community to an area where World Vision Child Sponsorship is not available.

If circumstances change and your child is no longer available for sponsorship, we’ll notify you and send you a new child in need to begin sponsoring.

Does World Vision offer Child Sponsorship in the United States?

We believe God’s concern for the poor extends to all children, including those living in the United States. However, because of cultural and economic differences, we believe the needs of children in the U.S. can best be met through programs other than sponsorship. Learn more about our work in the U.S.

How are kids selected to participate in the sponsorship program? What happens to the kids who don't have sponsors?

Vulnerable children are nominated by the community to participate in child sponsorship, and their parents or guardians then register them in the program. Then children either wait for a sponsor to choose them, or they get to choose their own sponsor at a choosing event. Kids in the community who aren’t sponsored yet still benefit from sponsorship-funded community improvements in areas like clean water, healthcare, education, job opportunities, and more.

What happens to my sponsored child when work ends in their community?

We partner with communities to help them reach their full potential as we address the root causes of poverty together. Once they are self-sufficient and thriving, it’s a time of celebration! The community is no longer in need of assistance and your sponsored child has a bright future ahead. Sometimes individual sponsorships end before our work in the community is finished. This could be for a variety of reasons, like the child reaches the age of independence, finishes school, or moves away from the sponsorship area. If that happens, we will let you know and give you the chance to sponsor another child.

What happens when there is an emergency in my sponsored child's community?

Though Child Sponsorship is focused on long-term, sustainable community development, we know that emergencies happen. And when they do, children are especially vulnerable. Our staff and community volunteers need to be resourceful and flexible in urgently responding to rapidly changing needs in communities.

It is our goal to help families and communities prepare, withstand and recover from emergencies so that together we can continue to focus on long-term and sustained development as soon as possible. During an emergency, we may temporarily suspend our regular programming to focus on the immediate needs of sponsored children, families, and community members. During a challenging time, the safety of all children and families we serve, and our staff and volunteers, remains a top priority. We also ask for your patience as you may experience delays in correspondence, including special gift processing and your child’s annual progress reports and updates.

How child sponsorship donations are used

How much does it cost to sponsor a child?

The cost to sponsor a child through World Vision is $39 per month. Your monthly donation is the same whether your sponsored child chooses you or you choose them. Sponsorship connects you with one special child who you can build a friendship with, but unlike in some other programs, sponsored children don’t receive direct cash benefits. Instead, your monthly donation is pooled for maximum effectiveness — you join forces with other sponsors to fund long-term community development programs that empower your sponsored child and their community, as well as other children in need, to improve their own lives in lasting, transformational ways.

What is your overhead rate? How much of my sponsorship donation will help children?

Your donations make a big impact! In 2022, we used 89 percent of our total operating expenses for programs that benefit children, families, and communities. Your monthly sponsorship gift is combined with other sponsors’ donations, and leveraged with public grants and corporate donations, to deliver resources that empower your sponsored child and their whole community — as well as other kids in need — to improve their own lives for the long term.

How does a sponsored child benefit from my monthly donation?

Your monthly donation is combined with the donations of other sponsors so we can provide long-term resources for lasting change for all the children in your child’s community. Your gift will help provide your sponsored child and other children in desperate need with the basic necessities that can help them reach their God-given potential, including access to resources like clean water, better nutrition, basic healthcare, education, spiritual nurture, and economic opportunities for his or her family, the community, and other children in need. In areas where permitted, a sponsor’s gift will also help provide a Christian education program to give children the chance to learn about Jesus and his love.

Sponsorship also assists the entire community by providing benefits like new or restored water wells, new or renovated schools and health clinics, as well as improved agricultural training. Adults may receive vocational training in areas like tailoring and carpentry or may attend classes in nutrition and hygiene.

We offer help in these areas and more–according to the needs of the community–because we believe the best way to change the life of a child is to change the community in which he or she lives.

Learn more about each of our areas of impact.

Do my sponsorship gifts actually reach the country for which they are intended?

Yes, your sponsorship contributions will be used to benefit your sponsored child, their community, and other vulnerable children. We combine sponsorship donations to support community-based projects that improve the well-being of all children in need, including your sponsored child. Donations received for sponsorships are referred to as restricted (or designated) and therefore earmarked for that need.

We also leverage funds from Child Sponsorship, one-time donations, goods donated by corporations, and government grants to ensure that all gifts entrusted to us have maximum impact.

Learn more about how every dollar donated to World Vision multiplies to provide more help.

Can I send money directly to my sponsored child?

For a variety of reasons, please don’t enclose your monthly sponsorship gift or any cash with your correspondence. In some countries it’s actually against the law to possess American money. However, we do have a way for you to send your child a special monetary gift. Learn more about how to send a special financial gift for your sponsored child or call 1.800.777.5777.

How does World Vision empower people to become independent and not need constant overseas support?

We see a world where each child experiences fullness of life, and we know this can only be achieved by addressing the problems of poverty and injustice in a holistic way – that is how World Vision is unique. We bring decades of experience in three key areas needed to help children and families thrive: emergency relief, long-term development, and advocacy. We bring all of our skills across many areas of expertise to each community where we work, enabling us to care for children’s physical, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

We work in nearly 100 countries throughout the world. Through our experience we understand that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to poverty. A community’s ongoing problems cannot be solved just by providing clean water, more medicines, or a new school. We know that success can only be achieved by looking at the big picture. That is why we start by identifying the specific, underlying causes of poverty in each community and then partner with the people in the community to achieve long-term solutions that will work for them. Rather than specializing in just one area, World Vision works to bring about change in every aspect of community life. Our holistic approach – which can include digging wells, teaching new farming skills, training community leaders and much more – makes the difference between short-term fixes and long-term self-sufficiency.

We don’t come into a community with the idea that we have all the answers. Rather, we recognize the gifts God has given to each individual, be it one of our staff members or a community member. Working side by side, we bring together our collective gifts and expertise – with the goal that the local people become “owners” of the solutions that will transform their community because, in the long run, we have not really helped a child unless we have also strengthened the family and community to provide for his or her continuing care.

How sponsoring a child empowers communities

How is World Vision Sponsorship designed to improve the lives and well being of children?

We believe the best way to change the life of a child is to change the community in which he or she lives. The well-being of children is the focus of all World Vision does, and our work centers on improving the lives of vulnerable children.

Each World Vision Sponsorship project is designed to meet the most pressing needs in a sponsored child’s community, and all projects are regularly measured against these goals and objectives. Projects are designed to make sure that children are healthy by local standards, are receiving appropriate education and receive spiritual nurture. Other goals are determined by what the children and community need most: clean water and improved sanitation, better income opportunities for parents, improved agricultural production, etc.

Many of our programs are directed towards developing the skills and capabilities of adults, parents, governments and/or communities with the ultimate goal being to improve the well-being of children. Because the well-being of a child is tied to the well-being of their family and the community where they live, the work we do to help improve the life of your sponsored child is based on meeting the challenges that their community has identified.

Learn more about how we work in communities.

Why doesn't World Vision just give the children or family cash?

Giving the family of the child money does not ensure responsible spending or that the community will be able to sustain itself once we’re no longer working in the area.

We believe true community development is not about providing money or even services. It lies in helping people discover their God-given potential as human beings, and working together to realize that potential. Fundamental to this is spiritual transformation that instills hope and promise for the future.

Technical help and funding in areas like health, agriculture, water resources, sanitation, nutrition, and income generation are important, but the underlying foundation of community development work is motivation and community organization — something a simple cash handout can’t provide.

Linking this development philosophy and method to sponsorship requires that children be the focus of the development effort and that the needs of each sponsored child be taken into account. It is crucial that sponsors understand that a child doesn’t receive direct cash benefits, as a welfare system would provide.

Learn more about how we work in communities.

How does World Vision share God's love with others, and how does my sponsored child learn about Jesus?

Our faith in Jesus is central to who we are, and we follow His example in working alongside the poor and oppressed. Wherever we work, we identify ourselves as a Christian organization. We’re honored to have a distinct role in building God’s kingdom. That role is to demonstrate God’s love and care in the world. We believe that bearing witness to Christ is every Christian’s responsibility. We demonstrate our faith in various ways – by who we are and how we live, what we do, the words we use to express our faith, and by pointing to God’s work (i.e., life, deed, word, and sign).

As followers of Jesus, we serve all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. Every day, children and families see God’s love through the care provided by our field staff. Whenever communities and their countries welcome it, and in ways that are appropriate, we verbally share our faith and provide opportunities for children and families to learn more about Jesus.

In communities where Christianity is practiced, we work closely with local churches to help provide children and their families with spiritual nurture activities like vacation Bible school, the distribution of Bibles to those who desire them, and more.

Churches often are one of the few stable institutions in these communities. They play a critical role in both spiritual and social development, and it is the Church that will nurture the faith of new believers. Churches also help World Vision staff to understand the community and its needs, and provide staff and volunteers. And churches continue to care for communities long after our work is completed.

Often sponsored children and their families, after being touched by the love and care of World Vision staff, have asked questions about our faith; many have come to share it. But we believe that only God can change hearts. Our role in the kingdom is to be faithful to His command to serve the poor. In communities where Christian teachings are not welcomed, we abide by local laws and customs while endeavoring to show respect and honor to those of different faiths.

Our dedicated staff strive to model Jesus’ example of love to children and the entire community in everything we do. Sponsors also have a vital role: praying for the child, family, and community.

Learn more about our faith in action. 

How long does World Vision work in a community?

We help children, families and their communities by supporting sustainable, long-term development projects. Sustainable development work takes time—approximately 15 years. We may stay in a community for less than 15 years, or longer, depending on when the development goals we set out to achieve have been completed. However, at times we may have to leave a community or country because local conditions—often involving political issues or stability—have changed.

Because we want to ensure that children continue to flourish after we leave, our exit is planned from the start. From the very beginning of our sponsorship projects, we work with the community to build lasting systems that will enable them to maintain and build on what has been achieved so their children can continue to thrive after the World Vision project has ended.

We work with communities to establish priorities and the time it will take to achieve the goals. Addressing the root causes of poverty involves building trusting relationships, breaking mindsets, changing attitudes, and providing tools, skills, and training – all of which requires a great investment of time.

The goal of sponsorship in a community is to help break the cycle of poverty so children and families can step into the future with well-founded hope. When these goals are met, World Vision can move on to serve children with great need in other communities.

Learn more about the six different stages of a Sponsorship project.

World Vision’s Christian commitment

Why does World Vision have Child Sponsorship in countries where most people are of other faiths?

God loves all children. We believe that sponsoring a child in any religious or ideological context is an extraordinary privilege. Child Sponsorship provides an opportunity to live out our Christian faith by caring for those in need regardless of their situation. We feel blessed to serve and bring hope to any precious child who lives in extreme poverty and to help that child reach his or her God-given potential.

World Vision was founded on Christian and Biblical principles and follows Jesus’ example in helping the poor. Every day, children and families throughout the world see God’s love through the care provided by our field staff.

Our intent is to demonstrate God’s love to all children regardless of their religious or cultural background so that they might have a better life and personally experience God’s love. Often times, World Vision’s ministry is the only Christian influence a community or country will experience.

Learn more about our faith in action.

Why does World Vision have Child Sponsorship in some countries and not in others?

World Vision’s Sponsorship program reaches out to children in need in developing countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. Some countries that are further along in their development don’t require our assistance.

Life for children in need living in the developing world can be very harsh. They lack the basics—food, water, clothing, and access to education—and, many times, have no protection from being exploited or abused under weak laws or oppressive cultural traditions.

World Vision Sponsorship focuses on bringing sustainable development to sponsored children and their communities. In places where there is an appropriate level of political and societal stability, our Sponsorship program allows us to build sustainable development that provides children with benefits like education, healthcare, and improved nutrition, as well as income-generating activities for families.

Frequently, people in need live in places where political and social stability do not exist. In these countries, we’re unable to provide long-term assistance through sponsorship due to security risks or unstable socio-political environments, or when children and their families are displaced to refugee camps. In these situations, even though conditions can’t support the long-term development goals of sponsorship, we still address the needs of children and families, whenever possible, through relief operations.

Explore how we work and see how we’re at work in various countries.

How does World Vision work with the community to plan and implement Child Sponsorship?

We work in communities where our presence is requested and welcomed. Before a sponsorship project begins, World Vision workers meet with local community leaders to listen and assess the needs in the community and determine appropriate and effective responses.

Together, we develop a plan for project areas and activities that will address their needs and priorities. A plan of operation with a proposed timeline, budget, specific goals, and objectives is created. This plan includes the number of children and families that will be assisted through the various components of the project. A majority of World Vision project staff are local residents who are best suited to evaluate and serve the needs of their community.

As we earn trust and credibility within the community, community members participate in and take ownership of the projects. While projects are in progress, the work is evaluated to ensure it is having maximum impact. This can last 10, 15, or even 20 years. Within the last years, the community prepares to carry out the development work after we leave.

By partnering with local people in the project communities, we empower them to bring about change themselves and to sustain progress in their community long after the project goals they have established with World Vision have been achieved.

Learn more about our model for implementing programs.

Bri was chosen by Anna to be her sponsor

Ready to Sponsor a Child?

Have more questions? Call us at 1.888.511.6548 to talk with a sponsorship specialist.