May 7 2008

Ask Wess

Wess with childrenOur president, Wess, is a smart man. (He’s also very humble so unless you ask him, you might not be aware of just how many interesting things he knows.)

Raised in Africa, a one-time resident of Haiti, he’s got a fascinating life journey. Thanks to all his travels and experiences overseas, he knows about many things including (but not limited to) slingshots, Indiana Jones, children, malaria, green mambas, hunting, Africa, raising daughters, fire ants, poverty and God.

You may have seen our series of posts entitled “10 Questions With” The intent was to help you better understand our holistic child development model. Well … we want to post another one in the series, but this time with a twist. (It’s like reality TV — we gotta keep changing it up or you get bored.) So here’s the twist: this time YOU provide the questions.

That’s right.

We’re giving you free and clear access to ask our very own president and CEO Wess Stafford anything you like.

  • Ask him about his childhood.
  • Ask him his middle name.
  • Ask him how he met his wife.
  • Ask him about work.
  • Ask him why ostriches can’t fly.

Now’s your chance to ask Wess some of those burning questions you always wanted answered. You can submit as many questions as you want. He’ll pick 10 of them to answer.

Ready … set … go!

  • 34 Comments
  • Print This Post Print This Post
  • Add a Comment

34 Comments Add a Comment
  1. May 7, 2008
    at 4:45 am

    What was your daily like in Haiti like?

  2. May 7, 2008
    at 5:51 am

    how did you get involved with Compassion International?

  3. Kayla
    May 7, 2008
    at 6:24 am

    Compassion’s financial report states that the salary for your position is quite high. Give.org has your income listed as being $205,939. While Compassion preaches that many children live on less than a dollar a day, how does it feel to me making such a large salary? In many of these cultures where Compassion works, you are a millionaire a hundred times over. Do you feel like it would benefit more children in poverty if you were to take a cut in pay so that more of those funds could go toward ministering to children?

  4. Chuck Guth
    May 7, 2008
    at 6:28 am

    I am sure that there are many blessings in the work that Compassion does. What would you say is your “best blessing” that you have had or experienced with this ministry?

  5. May 7, 2008
    at 7:05 am

    What advice would you give to a young director of a small starting ministry?

  6. May 7, 2008
    at 7:56 am

    How do you balance your priorities between a “job” that is way more than a job and your family? I see your job as being part of a movement that can potentially affect future generations enormously, these sort of things tend to be all consuming. How do you handle the commitments?

  7. Allan
    May 7, 2008
    at 9:20 am

    Hey Wess,
    What do you think is the largest challenge in eradicating poverty on the earth? How do we, coming from a Western World ‘Rich’ mindset, relate and help those in poverty without being high minded?

  8. May 7, 2008
    at 10:26 am

    Can I come work for you?

    (Just kidding.)

    (I think.)

    Really, I’d love to hear how Wess navigates the two worlds he inhabits. On one hand, he lives in a world of poverty and need. On the other, he lives in … well, America. How does he move back and forth between the two without becoming bitter or resentful?

  9. Kalaya G.
    May 7, 2008
    at 10:38 am

    Fire ants?

  10. May 7, 2008
    at 5:06 pm

    In “Too Small to Ignore…” you shared much about your childhood. But I don’t remember reading anything about your first six years. I realize your own memory of those years may be a bit fuzzy (tho’ I’m older than you and mine is still sharp! :o) ), but what do you remember of your early childhood?

  11. May 7, 2008
    at 5:39 pm

    Hey Wess, can we hang out sometime?

  12. Amy
    May 7, 2008
    at 7:09 pm

    If you didn’t work in the ministry field, what other career path would you have chosen?

    How do you deal with the heartbreak of seeing what life is really like for children in poverty?

    Do you have any hobbies?

  13. May 7, 2008
    at 9:41 pm

    What are the first names of the children you sponsor, and what countries? Any special stories you like to tell about them?

  14. Ron
    May 7, 2008
    at 9:44 pm

    I like Kayla’s question. $200 K+ seems like a lot, especially since I’d be willing to wage that all of the travel you do is covered by Compassion, not from that salary, right?

  15. Chuck
    May 8, 2008
    at 8:44 am

    Wess,

    Myself as a student considering pursuing a doctorate, but still wanting to remain practical in ministry, I noticed you have a Phd. I haven’t heard much about that, what did you get it in, and why? Does it help you at Compassion?

  16. Chuck
    May 8, 2008
    at 9:28 am

    For those interested in salary, I found the definition Give.com uses for the compensation figure it reported:

    “July 1, 2005-June 30, 2006 compensation includes annual salary and, if applicable, benefit plans, expense accounts, and other allowances.”

    Now I don’t know of course, but I would imagine that Wess travels internationally on a near weekly basis. When you figure in lodging and food for that, it becomes necessary, practically speaking, for a pretty big expense account. So it seems that the travel expenses Compassion covers for Wess are included in his “compensation” figure.

  17. May 8, 2008
    at 11:23 am

    Jambo,

    This is Anthony Njoroge an LDP graduate from Kenya,

    Met you during some of your trips here in Kenya,

    I remember you telling us how the Idea of LDP came to you as you were takin a walk in your garden, I have always wondered what kind of trees were in the garden and what sounds were there.. ha

    Anthony

  18. May 8, 2008
    at 9:54 pm

    Similar to Chuck’s education question, what type of masters program would you recommend for those who want to impact poverty and children in poverty?

  19. May 8, 2008
    at 9:57 pm

    To Anthony,

    Jambo,

    It’s a pleasure to “meet” you. I think the readers of this blog would enjoy asking you 10 Questions. I’d love to hear how the Lord is moving in your life.

  20. May 9, 2008
    at 7:14 am

    What about Ian’s idea, Anthony? You up for it? I promise I won’t resurrect my line of questioning from Kenya. :-)

  21. Sara Benson
    May 9, 2008
    at 3:39 pm

    I have two questions for Wess:

    What is the best thing that people going on a short term missions trip can do to make a lasting impact with the people that they serve.

    And secondly,Have you been able to use your sign language as a ministry tool?

  22. May 11, 2008
    at 2:06 am

    I wanted to respond to Kayla’s suggestion that Wes Stafford’s salary is “quite high.” (And I just have to say I’m not a Compassion employee or a personal friend of Wes Stafford’s, for that matter.)

    Here is the total compensation package for President/CEOs of similar nonprofits, (child sponsorship agencies.) All I have is 2006 numbers, so I’ll work with that.

    World Vision: $351,000
    Children International: $314,023
    Christian Children’s Fund: $274,276
    Compassion International: $187,440

    CEO compensation in nonprofit organizations accounts for an average of 3.37% of total expenses. Wes Stafford’s salary accounts for .07% of total expenses.

    President/CEO’s take a huge cut in salary by opting to work for a nonprofit organization — especially a religion-based organization.

    The median base salary of a CEO in the United States is $614,226. The median compensation package for the CEO of an S&P 500 company is $8.8 million. The average compensation package is $14.2 million.

    And I’m supposed to question Wes Stafford’s $205,939 total compensation package?

    Wes Stafford’s salary is set by the board of directors to be fair and equitable based on industry averages and Compassion’s total operating expenses.

    I personally think that Wes Stafford earns his salary fair and square. If he wants to further help children in need with his salary — that’s his business.

    Kayla, it’s a fair question to ask — but it smacks of the suggestion that Wes is taking too much from the organization — or taking money out of the mouths of poor children — and that is just plain wrong.

  23. May 11, 2008
    at 2:11 am

    Oops…it’s Wess, isn’t it. :) Sorry.

  24. May 11, 2008
    at 4:49 am

    Taking money out of the mouths of poor children? Remind me not to post on message boards in the middle of the night. After 2 a.m. I mix my metaphors! :) Can I edit my posts?!

    Here’s my question for Wess.

    Do you have any personal goals or goals for the organization that you care to share?

  25. May 11, 2008
    at 7:57 am

    Hi Ian and Chris,

    I would be honoured to answer those 10 questions.

    To Ian,
    Its indeed a great privilege to “meet” you,and look forward to sharing with you all that the Lord is doing in my life here in Kenya (hope the page will be long enough.. ha)

    To Chris:
    Hi there bro,

    I have hired a team of advisers to go through the list of questions so I am well armed this time.. ha

    All in all I am indeed up for the challenge… Bring it on.. ha

    Anthony..

  26. May 11, 2008
    at 8:22 pm

    Wess,

    Greetings! Two years ago my husband and I had the opportunity to hear you share at the Royal Family Kids’ Camp Director’s conference in CA. We were encouraged and challenged and often think back to stories and principles you shared.

    I would like to know how you think your daughters were shaped and influenced by growing up in the midst of Compassion’s ministry. How did you balance giving them the joys of a carefree childhood while at the same time exposing them to the needs of the world in order to grow in them a heart for those living in poverty?

    Thanks,
    Jennie

  27. May 13, 2008
    at 8:41 am

    Thank you for all the questions and for the lively discussion about Wess’ salary. :-) I’m giving him the questions today and hope to have answers for you shortly.

  28. Mar 17, 2009
    at 6:25 pm

    I know this is probably closed, but I wanted to see if you could answer one more question. My husband is a Compassion employee and we admire Wess so much that we are considering naming one of our children after him at some point in the future. May I ask – what is Wess’ middle name?

  29. Mar 18, 2009
    at 9:57 am

    Thank you so much, Chris! :D

  30. James Heil
    Feb 19, 2011
    at 8:52 pm

    You’re no inspiration to us working class poor to give. Maybe I should be entitled to the same standard of living that you have. I can’t afford it I support your charity.

  31. Michelle Rausch
    Feb 20, 2011
    at 7:07 pm

    Last year our family fell under the United States poverty level…. My husband had lost his job and we really struggled. Throughout the struggle…. I still maintained sponsorship. I still sent letters and small gifts to my children.

    I love my kids. I love Compassion. And I even love Wess. He certainly is an inspiration to me!! Just sayin’…….. :)

  32. jon
    Nov 1, 2011
    at 4:06 pm

    I wanted to respond to Kayla’s suggestion that Wes Stafford’s salary is “quite high.” (And I just have to say I’m not a Compassion employee or a personal friend of Wes Stafford’s, for that matter.)

    Here is the total compensation package for President/CEOs of similar nonprofits, (child sponsorship agencies.) All I have is 2006 numbers, so I’ll work with that.

    World Vision: $351,000
    Children International: $314,023
    Christian Children’s Fund: $274,276
    Compassion International: $187,440

    And I’m supposed to question Wes Stafford’s $205,939 total compensation package?

    Kayla, it’s a fair question to ask — but it smacks of the suggestion that Wes is taking too much from the organization — or taking money out of the mouths of poor children — and that is just plain wrong.

    This is out of date, but the latest figures are over $300,000 .
    That’s quite a pay rise for a non-profit organisation.

  33. Tara
    Nov 15, 2011
    at 12:09 pm

    I would like to know why Wes Stafford and the Compassion staff would consider vaccines as a good use of money. There is a link between vaccines and autism, ADD, ADHD, and death. Also there is no good evidence that vaccines have had any impact of reducing childhood diseases (see “Vaccines Deception and Tragedy” by Michael Dye for more information).

    Also take the time to educate yourself about vaccines:

    Also how can a “Christian” organization justify putting money into the abortion industry? There are aborted fetal cells in many of the vaccines, by purchasing these vaccines you are helping to fund the buying and selling of aborted babies.

    Please explain to me why this is ok?

© 2008-2014 Compassion International. All Rights Reserved.
ECFA Charity Navigator BBB