- Compassion International Blog - http://blog.compassion.com -

Research Shows: Child Sponsorship Through Compassion Works

charity research More than 9 million children around the world are enrolled in some sort of child sponsorship program. And more than $3.2 billion go into these sponsorship programs every year. Which must mean that child sponsorship [3] works, right?

charity research

That’s the exact question Dr. Bruce Wydick, professor for the Department of Economics at the University of San Francisco, asked … and he was surprised to learn that almost no in-depth research into international child sponsorship had been conducted:

“Given the number of individuals involved in child sponsorship relationships and the billions of dollars committed to them, it is surprising that almost no research exists that evaluates the impact of these programs.”

But that has changed now. The results of Dr. Wydick’s extensive research will be published in the April 2013 issue of the prestigious Journal of Political Economy, a leading economics journal. And the results are quite exciting.

To wrap it all up in a pretty bow, the results of the research show:

“. . . that children who participated in Compassion’s holistic child development through sponsorship program stayed in school longer, were more likely to have salaried or white-collar employment and were more likely to be leaders in their communities and churches than their peers who did not participate in the program.”

What Was the Study?

In 2008, Dr. Wydick, along with two colleagues, set out to explore the effectiveness of international child sponsorship. They envisioned a comparative look at several child sponsorship organizations, but we were the only organization that agreed to participate.

We did so because our mission statement is “Releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.”

Not temporarily relieving children from poverty.

And not helping children survive inside of poverty.

It’s releasing.

We had to raise our hand.

Because we were the only organization to accept the invitation, Wydick’s research team changed its original vision of comparing sponsorship programs. They decided to focus on researching adult life outcomes of our formerly sponsored children against the outcomes of those who were not part of our programs.

You can also view Most Beneficial Part of Compassion’s Program According to Former Sponsored Children [4] on YouTube.

Is there a difference between adults who grew up in poverty and went through our program and adults who did not?

How Was the Study Conducted?

The research focused on six nations where we provided child sponsorship between 1980 and 1992.

That time period was chosen because children enrolled in our sponsorship program during that time frame would be adults when the research was conducted between 2008 and 2010.

The research studied the adult life outcomes of 10,144 individuals, including:

The Findings

The research found that children formerly sponsored through Compassion stayed in school longer than their non-sponsored peers.

When asked which component of Compassion’s program was most beneficial, the most common answer given by formerly sponsored children was “educational support” (38.5 percent). The second-most common response related to “spiritual or character development” (29.4 percent).

charity research employmentDr. Wydick refers to Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program as “the great equalizer” in that it levels the playing field for children seeking an education in the developing world. In countries where there is a greater need or where children face greater obstacles to achieving an education, Compassion tends to have a greater impact.

The research found that, as adults, children formerly sponsored through Compassion were more likely to attain salaried/white-collar jobs than their non-sponsored peers.

charity research leadershipThe research found that, as adults, children formerly sponsored through Compassion were more likely to become leaders in their communities and churches.

A Note on Comparisons

To be clear, this study does not present a comparison of our program to other sponsorship organizations. Nor does it make any claims that our program is better than any other child sponsorship offering.

In fact, the researchers say it would be difficult to compare our Child Sponsorship Program to other organizations.

You can also view Why is it So Hard to Compare Other Sponsorship Organizations to Compassion? [5] on YouTube.

What Does This Mean for You?

No matter who you are — Advocate, sponsor, donor, non-sponsor — you now have independent, empirical research validating Compassion’s Christian, holistic, child-focused, one-to-one Child Sponsorship Program.

You can now confidently say, “It Works!”