financial accountability Thirty-eight dollars a month. That’s how much it costs to sponsor a child through Compassion, which is more than the price of sponsorship at other organizations. The difference sometimes leads to questions like these.

“When I first starting sponsoring it [the sponsorship rate] was $22 a month; that was 1989, or 1990 I forget, I’m getting old. During college I stopped sponsoring for a few years and then it was I think $26 or $28 a month . . . Other organizations have stayed about $22-24 a month . . . what extra services does Compassion offer for the extra money . . . what does Compassion provide that other organizations do not supply at $22-24 month?” — Dwight

“I am getting a bit concerned with the cost to sponsor a child. Where is the money going that isn’t going to the children? I would hate to think it is for a glossier overedited over advertising or staff bloat to make sponsors feel better.” — Nancy White

Although these two questions may seem to be asking the same thing, they’re actually not. Dwight is asking, “What does my child get each month for $38?” (i.e., how are our programs run and what do we deliver?). Nancy is asking, “Where is the money going that isn’t going to the children?” (i.e., how do we spend your money?). They’re both important questions.

I’m not an expert on how other sponsorship programs are run, but what I do know is that some organizations don’t have Christ at the center of what they do. And some allow children to have multiple sponsors.

So two things that Compassion delivers is the Gospel and a one-to-one relationship with your child.

Some child sponsorship programs just focus on one or two areas of a child’s development, rather than being all-encompassing, and others organizations administer their programs on behalf of the community a child lives in, rather than focusing directly on a specific child.

Compassion delivers holistic child development that is child focused. These two posts help show what that means.

Additionally, some organizations receive government funding. We do not. We’re 100 percent sponsor and donor supported.

And finally, some programs are more localized and less global than our program is. We’re a global holistic child development ministry and we use a one-on-one sponsorship model that encourages you and your child to share your faith with each other. We’re Christ centered, child focused, church based and committed to integrity.

Some programs may have similarities to ours, but none are exactly the same. That’s what we deliver.

As for how we spend your money, no more than 20 percent pays for administration and fundraising. That’s our commitment to you. And for the past several years, we’ve been significantly below that 20 percent, usually two to four percentage points below.

In fiscal year 2009, approximately $31 of your $38 monthly payment paid for development center grants, program services and child advocacy (i.e., educating the Body of Christ about the biblical mandate to care for children and the poor), while a nickel shy of $7 was used for administration ($3.23) and fundraising ($3.72).

Because of how we manage your money we have received eight consecutive four-star ratings from Charity Navigator, an independent charity evaluator. Only 1 percent of charities rated by Charity Navigator have been recognized in this way.

So, what does the $31 buy your sponsored child?

The money categorized as development center grants is delivered directly to our church partners to cover the costs of implementing our sponsorship program. The basic elements of these activities include:

  • regular Christian training
  • learning opportunities (e.g., funding school attendance and/or regular participation in extracurricular educational activities)
  • health treatment and training (e.g., regular physical exams, dental care, vaccinations, referral for advance medical care, instruction in physical and dental hygiene, exercise, nutrition and preventive health care)
  • socio-emotional development (e.g., learning basic social skills, teamwork, art, drama, dance, etc.)
  • materials and supplies including hygiene supplies (e.g., soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste), center supplies (e.g., paper, writing utensils, games, toys), fees or costs associated with field trips, camps, drama, art and dance activities, and snacks, food and supplemental nutrition each child may need
  • individualized care and attention (e.g., school progress reports, center attendance records, health records, home visits by social workers and adult supervision while at the development center)

Program services include activities undertaken by our staff to select, train, equip and oversee the church partners implementing our program, as well as programmatic research and evaluation. They also cover the costs of staff who direct and maintain the daily activities at the child development center.

More personally, this is where the money comes from for letter translation, postage, taking photos of your child, and updating you on your child’s well-being.

You can consider program services as the funding source for maintaining our program’s integrity and all the things that connect you and your child.

That about sums it up. I hope this explanation is useful to you. If you want additional information about our financial accountability stewardship you can visit and, as well as call us at (800) 336-7676.

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54 Comments Add a Comment
  1. Greg
    Jun 21, 2010
    at 8:42 am

    I’m actually pretty amazed that all of this can be done on only $38 a month. I’m a new sponsor (I sponsor a girl in Colombia) and it brings me such joy to have the opportunity to do this.

  2. Michelle
    Jun 21, 2010
    at 9:10 am

    “More personally, this is where the money comes from for letter translation, postage, taking photos of your child, and updating you on your child’s well-being.”

    That, alone, justifies the extra cost for me. The ability to connect with my sponsored child and send/receive letters is one of the foremost reasons I chose Compassion to sponsor through and I have not regretted it for an instant. I treasure the photos I have of Ludis….. The center went above and beyond to show me that the money I sent last year for a family gift was not only received, but used wisely and VERY MUCH appreciated. (pictures DO say a thousand words!!!!)

  3. Stephanie Green
    Jun 21, 2010
    at 2:27 pm

    After becoming a sponsor and then an advocate, I have a much better understanding of how the money is used and used with integrity. Although some may think that more money should be given directly to children and their families, it is so important to understand the groundwork that must be laid for the money to be put to the best, and most lasting, use. I, too, am impressed at what can be done with $38, especially when i see it spelled out as it is above. Thanks for being such good stewards of our funds!

  4. Amanda
    Jun 21, 2010
    at 3:30 pm

    Very informative! Thank you for sharing this with us. $38 is not very much considering everything the money is used for.

  5. Mike Stephens
    Jun 21, 2010
    at 7:02 pm

    That is interesting and helpful to know, but I like sending $300 family gifts so I know they actually buy something somewhat useful and surprise them! I kind of see the $38 a month as sparklers and the $300 family gift as a stick of dynamite we can all use a stick of dynamite every once in a while ;) To put it in fireworks terms b/c 4th of July is just around the corner!

    • Jennifer
      Jul 16, 2010
      at 3:50 pm

      Hi Mike.
      I’m glad you brought this up. I am a new sponsor, and I also like to send family gifts. Do you know if the family is just given the money, or if it is doled out in increments, or is something the family needs put on a list and bought for them when the money comes? How did you learn about where the family gift goes? You made me smile because you are so right, we could all use a stick of dynamite every once in a while! :-)

      • Andrea
        Jul 24, 2010
        at 4:36 pm

        In most cases money isn’t given directly to the family, instead a project representative will speak to the family, determine needs and sometimes take them on a shopping trip. This is done to ensure it’s used appropriately, many children have great families, but some have families where extra money might not be spent wisely.

      • Mike Stephens
        Aug 2, 2010
        at 8:45 pm

        Oh Jennifer ahahahahahahahhaa,

        I don’t really know how it works I just get the picture of what the bought, but I figure they get all my cash I sent and they buy something wisely but it is a gift from me I am not that strict on what I hope they buy

        I Peter 5:7

      • Aug 5, 2013
        at 6:28 am

        Jennifer, We just returned from a visit with our child and her teachers. We were given pictures of her new home and of the goats she tends and those are two things our family gift helped buy. They meet with the family and discuss what their greatest needs are and then take them to do the shopping. Also, during the drought of 2010, our family gifts helped to buy them food. Without this, many people starved and died at the time. We were very pleased to learn all this. Makes our gifts we send today even more important.

  6. Sheri
    Jun 21, 2010
    at 9:03 pm

    Great post! Your explanation really broke down Compassion’s benefits to our children well. I’ll use this to help answer sponsor questions. Compassion is an amazing organization. Thanks!

  7. Stephanie T. Green
    Jun 21, 2010
    at 10:12 pm

    I praise God that Compassion International is Christ-centered, Child-focused, Church-based and Committed to integrity! The 4 C’s. :-)

  8. Jun 22, 2010
    at 12:36 pm

    Thanks for this. I think it’s useful for advocates and sponsors – not only to know where their money’s going, but to be able to answer questions their non-sponsoring friends or family might have.

  9. Pat Fode
    Jun 22, 2010
    at 12:51 pm

    This was very helpful. Thank you for the explanation. I know this is an excellent organization, but it was nice to read the breakdown. I currently sponsor one child & wish I could afford more. I want to help as many of these children as I possibly can. There is such a need. I love receiving the letters from the child I sponsor. Thank you!

  10. Amy Wallace
    Jun 27, 2010
    at 11:10 am

    Considering what Compassion does with our money, I have no complaints about it being higher than other organizations!

  11. Aug 17, 2010
    at 9:54 pm

    I wrote my question about how the money is spent after sending the $18/child I sponsor for Christmas gifts and got a letter telling me the money was spent on coats for a village in Mexico. I have been a sponsor for a while now and am blessed for it. I was quite aurprised that my Christmas money did not go where i thought it was going. I am glad the children of that village got coats though.

  12. Theresa
    Sep 4, 2010
    at 4:12 am

    We have been told on foreign fields that the foreign local church or org. must match the $38 AND provide the infrastrucure – pay for the building and staff. Before we help do that for one in Asia, can you confirm if this is so?! Also is any direct sharing of the Gospel done onsite, as opposed to through the sponsor relationship?
    Thrilled about your ministry. Thanks.

    • Shaina
      Sep 10, 2010
      at 11:42 am

      Compassion works with churches that are established in the community with appropriate buildings/infrastructures. We partner with local churches because we believe it to be the best strategy- the church knows the people in their community and the people’s needs. They do not match $38.
      Our passion is to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name- this means that every child will hear Bible teachings while in our program, and receive age appropriate scripture passages or a Bible on top of receiving encouragement from their sponsor’s letters.

  13. Feb 28, 2011
    at 8:30 am

    9 other and I are first time sponsors for a little boy from hayti. I can’t believe that there are so many children out there. If more company got groups of people around to sponsor. That way is doesn’t cost 1 person so much and more would be able to afford it. I can believe how much the family live on in some of these countrys.

    May 8, 2011
    at 5:04 pm

    I have not seen one word or example on the content of the religious training given. Is it denominational? Is tradition of man mixed in with it? Is the Bible plainly understood. Are they taught to observe the seventh day sabbath day of rest? If you start from a false premise you will surely miss the mark. Remember, the Bible says “the whole worid is deceived” (by Satan). And it is important to note that Salvation cannot be earned…it is a gift of God. As a writer of Biblical commentaries and articles I am concerned that doctrine that is not espoused in the Bible is quite often taught. The children while they are young deserve the TRUTH. Tell me, is the teaching denominational? I hope not, because denominationalism is very much akin to tribalism. Read Matthew 15 and 16 where Jesus was accused of breaking the law (as they saw it) by the Pharisees. See what Jesus had to say about it. You must NOT cause anyone to stumble over the truth. Can anyone enlighten me more on this subject before I make any decision on sponsorship?

    • May 9, 2011
      at 12:26 pm

      I have not seen one word or example on the content of the religious training given. Is it denominational? . . . Tell me, is the teaching denominational?

      No, it isn’t. We work with numerous denominations and value churches working together. For example, in the Philippines we partner with 320 evangelical churches from 17 Christian denominations.

      We want different denominations to come together to help children in poverty.

      These four posts may interest you because they talk about our curriculum and how we teach the various aspects of our curriculum, including the spiritual aspect.

      And this post contains a video I took in Kenya last year. It’s a six-minute clip from one of the spiritual-focused classes.

      Hope that helps.

  15. sandra mahoney
    Jun 8, 2011
    at 6:03 am

    I have already sent my money for the year. 500.00 dollars. I know it is over the amount. but, I know you can use the rest to help either my child or another. Thank you, Sandra Mahoney

  16. sandra mahoney
    Jul 12, 2011
    at 1:01 pm

    I have sent a couple of letters to my child When do I hear back. I was told I would receive a letter back. I have already sent 500.00 for the whole year. Please let me know.

    • Jul 12, 2011
      at 7:37 pm

      Congrats on becoming a sponsor!! I’ve loved the experience of blessing and being blessed by my sponsored child.

      I do not work for Compassion, but I can tell you that at a minimum your child will write to you 3x/year and if they are in a country with reciprocal letter writing then they will write one letter in response to each letter you write. I recommend calling Compassion at (800) 336-7676 or using their live chat feature if you are concerned that a letter should have arrived and it has not and with any questions for Compassion. The blog comments are moderated, but it is not the most effective way to receive a reply from the person in the right area with the expertise you need. First letters typically take 2-4 months depending on the remoteness of the child’s project. In regards to your financial payment being over the amount, again I would speak to Compassion. Please know that you can also send Christmas gifts as well as birthday and family gifts to your child if you feel led. To learn more about letter writing and gift giving you can click on the ‘for new sponsors’ and ‘about letter writing’ tabs at the top of the blog and read some of the blogs on those topics.

  17. *Sarah*
    Jul 14, 2011
    at 10:09 am

    I sponsor a child in Nicaragua. Her name is Suheyli and she has about 5 other siblings. I love learning that out of the $456 I pay a year at least $372 goes to Suheyli. But I’m starting to wonder if at least a small portion, even a large portion, goes to the other members of her family. Most likely the money benefits the rest of the family as well, but I can’t help worrying. Being only 13 I tend to worry about everything at once. It’s hard to come up with almost $500 a year when I’m not old enough to get a job, but I’m blessed that God has helped me this far. So can the money I send help Suheyli as well as her family?

    • Jul 14, 2011
      at 11:01 am

      Be assured that Suheyli’s family will benefit indirectly by things she shares and by participating in our partner church activities. You can bless this rest of the family and any of her sibling by sending extra stickers and other paper items with your letter to her. You may also bless the entire family by sending a family gift.

      I know coming up with the regular monthly sponsorship is hard enough, but you may give $25-$1,000 a year and designate it as a family gift. The project director will consult with the family about what their greatest need is and help them to purchase the items.

      Compassion does not take out processing fees from any gifts, so your child and family will receive 100% of what you send.

  18. *Sarah*
    Jul 14, 2011
    at 10:13 am

    If you send a birthday gift, Christmas gift, etc., how much of the money sent will be given to your child? Let’s say you give $20-40 for a birthday present to your child. How much of the $20-40 will be given to my child?

  19. Luis
    Dec 5, 2011
    at 12:07 am

    I have been sponsoring 4 children for 3 years now, I have always taken comfort in the fact that most of the funds go to the children, however I was recently in Colorado Spring and saw the Copassion Building, how was such an expensive and new building constructed? What percentage of the 38.00 goes to building for the employees in Colorado Springs???

    Jan 19, 2012
    at 3:15 pm

    WHAT EXCELLENT ORGANIZATION IS COMPASSION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BIG UP.

  21. Leanne
    Jun 20, 2012
    at 7:50 pm

    I just sponsored my first child (3 year old Miguel of Peru) and am so excited to be a part of his life. I researched numerous sponsorship programs and prayed really hard to decide which to go with. Compassion, obviously, won! 1) best documentation of the services 2) best documentation of how the money would be used. One of the things that I did take into consideration was that even though some of the other charities were less costly, I wanted quality. I wanted a charity that is primarily Christ centered and I believe I chose the right one.
    When I checked out the additional giving, I was very surprised that we can give for the child as well as the family.
    I am excited to learn more about my Miguel, his country and his culture. I know I won’t learn much about it from him (he is only 3) but look forward to being a part of his life for many more years.

    Thank You Compassion!

  22. L
    Aug 3, 2012
    at 2:12 pm

    I would like to know what Compassion believes about salvation. How must a person be saved?

  23. kirti
    Oct 9, 2012
    at 1:46 am

    Some where else in your web site, I saw that 100% of the money donated for “Sponsor a Child” program is spent on the child. And that admin expenses are raised through other means. So does this contradict your statement about 7$ out of the 38$ is used for administration?

    • Jacquie Parella
      Oct 9, 2012
      at 5:16 am

      Hi Kirti – That is not accurate information and we don’t state that on our website. Here’s what we do say: Thanks for asking for clarification!

    • Alida Catcheside
      Oct 9, 2012
      at 6:04 am

      Hi Kirti,
      The 100% which goes to the child is if you send any extra gifts for their birthday or their family.
      The % taken from the regular monthly sponsorship covers the admin. Hope this helps.

  24. Stacey
    Jan 3, 2013
    at 9:57 am

    Thank you for posting this! I just committed to sponsoring 2 children (one boy and girl) and it helps to know where the funds are going because I want to make sure the child gets as much of it as possible! Praise Jesus!
    “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” Isa. 61

  25. John Conning
    Jul 7, 2013
    at 3:21 pm

    So basically we have been paying you to read Bible stories to children and take photos. We honestly thought that some of the money would go to help their families directly.

  26. Leanne
    Jul 8, 2013
    at 10:40 pm

    I sponsor a 5 year old (Miguel) in Peru and a 12 year old (Nia) in Indonesia. I get regular letters from Nia but only responses from Miguel. I enjoyed getting the photos of the gifts that were purchased for my children for birthdays and Christmas. I have not seen what was purchased for the family for the gifts I have sent them. Money is so often our focus and of course, I do not want my money abused but sometimes we have to take it on “faith” that an organization is truthful and responsible with the money we send. I am trusting the Lord that whatever I can do to assist these children in overcoming poverty, becoming healthy, happy children will be done. I write to them to let them know I keep them in my prayers and that I hope they are doing well. I have been sponsoring Miguel for almost 2 years now and Nia for just 1 year. If circumstances permit, I will try to sponsor another child. (I always choose from the list showing who has been on the list the longest). Pray that I will be able to do so.

  27. Jul 17, 2013
    at 10:44 am

    I have just returned from a visit with my sponsored child in Kenya and I cannot express in words what this life changing opportunity has meant to me and my family. I was so impressed with the teachers who accompanied my child and saw and heard first hand how our support is helping Kauria and her family. i love our little daughter and it was very difficult to leave her but we trust that God is taking care of her through the support of Compassion and that she now lives a life of hope and love. The money is important but just as important is the letter writing and assuring these children that they are loved. One day was not enough to spend with our daughter but it deepened our love for her and renewed our faith that Compassion does make a difference in the lives of these children and their families. Grateful for the opportunity we had to meet her, sad to leave her, but all glory to God for his love in caring for Kauria.

  28. Cheryl
    Aug 4, 2013
    at 8:04 pm

    I would like to know why I never get a picture of my child or a picture of what he bought with his money. I only get his letters, which is good, but I would like to see how he has grown in the last 3 years and what the stuff looks like that he bought with the gift money.

    • Susan Sayler
      Aug 5, 2013
      at 9:27 am

      Hi Cheryl! I’m so glad you contacted us about this! Compassion processes full updates, including updated photos, for all of our children every two years. It looks like we just processed an update on one of your children and we will be sending this to you in the mail. When you send a monetary gift to your children, you will receive a thank you letter for this gift within six months of when the gift is given. We will also enclose a photo of your child with their gift when you send more than $60. If it has been longer than six months, and you have not received acknowledgment that your gifts were received by your children, please email us at We’d be happy to send an inquiry to our field office just to make sure these gifts were received and see what was purchased for your children.

      • Sue Vincent
        Nov 16, 2013
        at 9:44 am

        I send extra to the family rather than the child. Will I still get updated photos? Also I have not recieved any confirmation of any gifts I have sent though it has only been about four months since starting.

        • Susan Sayler
          Nov 18, 2013
          at 11:57 am

          Hi Sue! If you send more than $60, regardless of whether the gift is a child gift or a family gift, you will receive a photo along with your letter thanking you for that gift. It usually takes about six months for the gift to be sent and the thank you letter to return back. It sounds like you’re still in that time frame. Thanks so much for blessing your child in such a tangible way!

  29. Jason
    Jan 5, 2014
    at 1:12 pm

    From the information received from my personal contacts, I feel the information on CI’s website is not an accurate picture of what is done with the donor’s money. How else is sending just about 55% of $38 sent as sponsorship money to a child in India justifiable? Your ratings at Charitynavigator is impressive but the reports from the ground are not so. The work undoubtedly is appreciable – the question here is about honesty.

    • Susan Sayler
      Jan 6, 2014
      at 5:10 pm

      Hi Jason! Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention! We take financial integrity very seriously. We have committed to putting at least 80% of whatever is donated towards programs that benefit the children. Often it is higher than the 80% but it will never be less. If you have specific information otherwise, please please email us at and we will check into it to make sure that this area is up to our standards.

  30. Jason
    Jan 15, 2014
    at 1:29 pm

    The more I inquire, the more I’m forced to consider that the rot is deeper. It has much to do with your personnel than policy. I wish Christian organizations step up and offer more than mere lip-service. I’m terribly appalled. People need to know the real story…

    • Susan Sayler
      Jan 16, 2014
      at 9:04 am

      Jason, I’m so sorry that you are feeling duped by us and saddened that you think our organization is so deeply corrupted. Again, we relish the opportunity to improve our programs but we need to know specifics of what is going wrong so that we can change. Please email us at with the specifics of this situation so that we can properly investigate and correct this issue.

  31. cora
    Jan 16, 2014
    at 11:02 am

    I am also a new sponsor, & it amazes me that compassion can do so much with such a small monthly donation! I am very excited to do this, & I am looking forward to the 1st letter I receive from our little girl in Columbia!

  32. Kenneth Brockman
    Feb 23, 2014
    at 7:37 am

    Thank you for being there to help these children. I have listened to Wes many , many times on the radio and checked into your practices and accountability to make sure money is being used wisely. I feel 100 % secure that you are making the most out of Gods blessings. We recently starting sponsoring Johana from Mexico and cant wait to build a relationship with her. We already feel so blessed and are encouraging and challenging our friends and family to step up to the plate. We can all easily miss a big meal or two a week right !!! May God continue to bless you at Compassion and us sponsors as well so we may join in on this battle for the little ones . Ken Brockman

  33. Jana
    Mar 5, 2014
    at 8:33 am

    I have a question I am a first time sponsor. And you had a booth at one of the Christian concerts that I went to and I decided to Sponsor a child and I paid cash instead of check or debit/credit card. Can I send cash with the letter that I will send every month instead of paying through debit/credit card because I do not have any Debit or Credit cards or checks just cash

    • Susan Sayler
      Mar 5, 2014
      at 11:23 am

      Hi Jana! Thank you so much for helping to change the story for a child in need! We’re blessed to partner with you! While you can send cash, we strongly discourage sending cash in the mail. Because cash cannot be tracked, it is unsafe to send in the mail. I recommend going to a bank or post office to get a money order instead of cash so that it is a little more secure.

      • Jana
        Mar 5, 2014
        at 5:23 pm

        Ok thanks

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