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To want to sponsor a child?

55 replies

quizzywizz · 29/05/2013 16:09

I really want to sponsor a child through a site like Compassion where you can write to them and they write back and there is only you sponsoring the child.

It is £21 per month and a child is sponsored to about 18 / 22 I think.

I really want to do it and am drawn towards it but, after mentioning it to friends / parents, pretty much everyone was against it. Pointing out that if I sponsored a 6 year old I could be paying for at least 12 years = £3024. Unless the monthly amount goes up in which case it would be more.

They just keep saying that there is no point sponsoring a child that is nothing to you, there are children in the UK that need help, I am not well off / well paid, and that money doesn't get to the child.

Choosing which child might be tricky as there are some lovely little children on the site! I can't explain why I am so drawn to the idea so I am not managing to defend my view point very well. I think that sponsoring a child changes their life and gives them opportunities that they wouldn't otherwise have.

OP posts:
FrauMoose · 29/05/2013 17:09

Have a look at

quizzywizz · 29/05/2013 17:14

I am a Christian and my family aren't which is another sticking point they have. I didn't tell them because I wanted them to know all my business - I was just excited about the idea!

I have been reading up on Compassion and they don't just support Christian children - there are Muslim children and other religions supported too.

My parents are right in a sense as I don't earn a lot of money but £21 per month .... well I can cut out some things. They think that I should be putting any spare money into savings so I can buy a house and stop renting. But £21 a month could change a child's life and that of their family.

I was thinking of maybe sponsoring a girl around 7 or 8 but there are so many on the site - plus adorable ones like 3 year old Rosario and 4 year old Marisol. I can see how people end up sponsoring ten children! I like that you get to pick the child that you are drawn to - and there are areas that I feel drawn to like El Salvador and Indonesia although I don't know why.

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sleepingdragon · 29/05/2013 17:16

I think its important to think about the reason you want to sponsor a child and find an organisation that uses the sponsorship money for those aims. I recall reading somewhere that child sponsorship is not a very efficient way of funding development, due to the costs of running the sponsorship side, and that the proportion not spent on admin varies widely between organisations. There are no guarentees, that I am aware of, about the frequency/ quality of letters you recieve - The longest (annually sent) letter I have recieved from one of my sponsored children was 'I hope your family good we are all healthy' - I am happy with that but would have been dissappointed if I wanted a more meaningful penpal relationship.

I sponsor an orphaned/abandoned child through SOS childrens villages - all the sponsorship money is all spent on the care of children living in a family setting within their villages and on programmes to help struggling families afford to keep their children living with them. Each child may have more than one sponsor though. If you want to give gifts, you can give money that goes into the childs account, that the child can use once they are an adult to set up a business, furnish their home or for further education study fees etc.

I also sponsor a child throught Plan, because I like the work they do around child rights, because (according to their marketing) the work they do seems to make a tangible difference in people's lives, and also because I didn't want to stop sponsoring the child I had been writing to when I started sponsoring a child thorugh SOS children.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

Wilding · 29/05/2013 17:28

You could also consider sponsoring a woman through Women for Women International - you don't get to pick a woman beforehand but you can choose which country you would prefer and there is that personal connection, you can send letters etc to each other. And it helps the whole community, not just that woman, as once the women have gone through the programme they share their knowledge with other women, form cooperatives with them etc. I'm planning on doing it myself as soon as I have enough money (it's £22 a month I think)

mrsjay · 29/05/2013 17:33

I sponser a girl through Plan well it is my dds names iyswim, it is your choice do it dont listen to what others say

clarinetV2 · 29/05/2013 17:35

OP, as you say you're not managing to 'defend' your case well, do you have your own doubts about sponsorship? Are friends and family making a case that is giving you second thoughts? If so, maybe you do need to look into it a little more. I'm personally not too happy with the sponsorship idea because I don't actually want the personal connection which to me would feel rather contrived. I make a regular monthly contribution to Plan's Girls Fund which I am more comfortable with - I like to know that I'm supporting children/communities who need it but without needing to feel any degree of personal responsibility for a child halfway around the world. But I think you should do what feels right for you. Do your homework about the various schemes and companies available, make sure you support their aims and how they go about putting them into practice, and then as others have said it's your money, your choice - if you're still in support of a scheme after researching it then go ahead, and if you have reservations at that point, maybe find another way to help.

One thing occurs to me - If you're going ahead but feel obliged to defend yourself to friends and family, then mug up on the promotional stuff produced by the company/scheme, and use their arguments - they'll probably be able to put them better than you because they've got loads of experience!

quizzywizz · 29/05/2013 17:42

I read this article - and really thought it was interesting.

It isn't that I am having doubts - it feels right to me - it is more that I hoped that they would be excited for me. Not that they would immediately jump to the negatives.

I can afford to pay £21 per month (could possibly afford two) after some budget adjustments and the general consensus among my friends was that it is crazy to cut back on say buying lunches versus making my own or on magazine buying to help some child in a far off country. And that one person can't change the world.

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clarinetV2 · 29/05/2013 17:56

Look, if you can afford it and you definitely want to do it, go right ahead. When your friends put it like that, I think it's pretty hard to justify being precious about making your own lunch when for the equivalent cost you could make a big difference to another human being. No, one person can't change the world, true enough. But you can change the life chances of people in the community you're sponsoring, and maybe that feels more worthwhile to you than buying lunch or magazines. Perhaps when you tell them about it they start to feel vaguely guilty that they're not doing something similar? Hearing about other people's charitable donations can easily have that effect. Sounds like they're never going to be happy and excited for you, but I wouldn't worry about it - that's not the reason you're doing it, and probably once you've started then the feedback you get from the child will be enough and you won't need the people around you to reinforce what you're doing.

ConfusedPixie · 29/05/2013 18:00


I plan to do it when DP and I have a bit more in the pot, though I loan through Kiva at the moment too. I only have £20 on the go at the moment but I know that it's going to somebody who will use it to better their lives before they pay me back and I can give it to somebody else again. I'm hoping to put another £50 into it by the end of the year :)

CokeFan · 29/05/2013 18:33

DH and I each sponsor a Compassion child (well, mine's just turned 19 - been sponsoring him since he was 8). I think it's a huge thing to them to be supported. They always work through the local church and are (as far as I can tell) good at providing what is actually needed rather than just random "charity".

I know a few people at church who also sponsor through Compassion. The feedback you get from the child you sponsor will depend on the child themselves and the project they're part of. We didn't pick an individual child - just chose the "where the need is greatest" option.

I'd say go for it - everything seems like a huge commitment if you're trying to think of it all in one go. I think it was £18 a month when I first started sponsoring 11 years ago so it's not like it's skyrocketed since.

twinmummy24 · 29/05/2013 18:57

As of twenty minutes ago we are, as a family, sponsoring a little girl in Kenya through action aid, they are quite specific about the money (£15 a month) being used for the good of the community so that a specific child is not singled out, the child you sponsor becomes the keeper of your letters etc which are shared with the wider community.

We chose a six year old girl because my twins are six and i wanted them to be involved and relate to the child, they are very excited to be doing it!

cat811 · 29/05/2013 18:57

We sponsor 2 children through Compassion, and still pay the £18 that it cost when we started (5 years ago) so maybe once you are on the programme they don't put your payment up, to avoid potential situations where you can't afford the increase? So it could be that you would always pay the £21 it is quoting now - don't take my word for that though!

Bakingtins · 29/05/2013 19:00

I sponsor a child through World Vision and have done for 6 years.

I do have some niggles though, and it's worth finding out the set up from the off. We had a sponsored child for about 3 years and wrote regularly, then WV decided for whatever reason to wind up their program in that area and suddenly we are told we can have no further contact with the child - so your "relationship" is completely on their terms. We did get another child in a different area, but the idea that you can support one individual through to adulthood is not necessarily the case.
I hate all the begging letters I get with some form of emotional blackmail to give in addition to our monthly amount "send X a birthday card, please enclose £y to cover the cost" and some completely inappropriate card with stickers (our current sponsoree is 15!) "I donate an additional £z to fund ...." All. The. Time.

So I think it's a great thing to do, I'd encourage you to go ahead, but choose your charity carefully.

blueemerald · 29/05/2013 19:06

I was looking into this and found this radio 4 program about the issue, which was really interesting and informative. Doesn't give you a cut and dry answer but some food for thought.

Hummuschocolate · 29/05/2013 19:32

£21 a month is a couple of drinks, a pizza and a pudding, or a week of eating lunch out or a couple of new tops. However you look at it, you probably wouldn't tot these things up so I don't think your friends/families arguments hold. Also its not their money to decide what to do with.

I'm a Christian and I sponsor with Compassion and I think its great. Have a look at their website, blog and videos on Youtube if you haven't already. To me they seem like a trustworthy organisation and I think its a great cause to invest in.

MrsRickyMartin · 29/05/2013 21:35

Pootles education is free in Peru and so are all the vaccinations. Plan doesn't really do much.

GoodbyePorkPie · 29/05/2013 21:59

"it is crazy to cut back on say buying lunches versus making my own or on magazine buying to help some child in a far off country. And that one person can't change the world."

Wow, that is really sad. No you might not change the world but you could change someone's LIFE! That is amazing.

I have been trying to find this news story online but I can't - in the late 80s in the town where I'm from a church group chipped in to sponsor a boy from Ghana (I think?). When he came of age they lost touch. Anyway, about four years ago this young man just turned up in the town and tracked down this church group. He was the man they'd sponsored; and because of them he had gone to school and got a scholarship and had become a lawyer. He came halfway around the world to thank this group of people who had changed his life. It was such a beautiful story.

Grittzio · 29/05/2013 22:12

My aunt sponsors a child through Plan for my son, a boy who is a similar age. They swap letters/pictures, my son is thrilled at having a 'pen friend', he is learning all about Kenya and the sponsored childs life, it is a real learning curve for him, as although not spoilt, he has a very comfortable child hood. The money goes towards the sponsored childs village so I understand.

baskingseals · 29/05/2013 22:20

I also sponsor with Plan International.

Could you tell us a bit more about Kiva?

WafflyVersatile · 29/05/2013 22:24

you can't change the world but you can improve one person's life.

There are many ways to support people in other countries and if this is what inspires you then go for it. Try not to be disappointed if there is not that much communication from your sponsor child.

Micro loans are a good idea too and can be particularly beneficial to women and therefore children.

starlightloz · 29/05/2013 22:37

I have had a sponsor child through Plan n Tanzania since I was 17, now have a little girl in El Salvador and my husband sponsors a little boy in Rwanda, both through Compassion. I find the process much more preferable with Compassion and would rather do it through them than with Plan but wouldn't want to withdraw the support from the boy I sponsored first as it is means so much more than the financial support, the relationship is significant in showing someone at the other side of the world that someone really does care about them and their family. It isn'ta divisive thing in communities as the money goes towards things which benefit the entire community like sanitation, clean water and education programmes. It is really easy to send communication through Compassion's website and I'd thoroughly recommend them. I have met some people who work for them and they are inspirational.

Jinsei · 29/05/2013 22:46

I have sponsored a child for some years - a little girl the same age as my daughter. It isn't the only charity I give to on a regular basis, but I do like the fact that my dd can identify a bit with someone who we're trying to help - it's nice to have a face and a name.

However, I hate the idea of "choosing" a child from the Internet - almost as if they're up for sale! I wouldn't ever sponsor through an evangelical organisation as I'd worry about what strings might be attached, and I would strongly object to any charity which promised regular letters from the sponsored child. I wouldn't want a child to feel under pressure to write "grateful" letters to an unknown sponsor if they don't want to, and let's be honest, some won't want to.

I do write to my sponsored child from time to time, and so does dd. We have only received something back from her on one occasion - a picture that she drew a couple of years ago. This is because the organisation chooses not to pressure the children to write to their sponsors, and I prefer it that way. We do get a brief annual report from the organisation, though, telling us how the child is getting on, what she likes, dislikes and so on.

quizzywizz · 29/05/2013 22:48

I think the Compassion website sounds really easy to use plus there is a forum for sponsors!

goodbyeporkpie it shocked me as they will spend £50 on a night out, which I don't judge them for or tell them that they should be spending it on something else, but £21 per month to help a child be educated and supported and just given a chance is a waste.

What a lovely story about the boy from Ghana!

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whiteandyellowiris · 29/05/2013 23:00

oh i would like to do this too.
but i worry what company to use and if the child will actually get our money
i would like to sponsor a one year old boy

quizzywizz · 30/05/2013 06:54

With Compassion (I have been reading up!!) you can actually visit your child and plenty of people have done that.

I don't think Compassion starts at 1 - the youngest I have seen on there is 2.

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