Note from the Editor: In early 2015, Compassion received a “4-star” rating from Charity Navigator – for the 14th year in a row! Financial accountability is so important to us, we want to show you our books. See our 2014 Annual Report to see where your money goes.

compassion-international-scam Accountability. This word has so much meaning. In this fast-paced and cynical world, many people have lost trust in nonprofits. It’s actually very sad, but I understand why.

How many times have you heard about the misuse of funds hindering an organization’s effectiveness, or greed compromising decision-making and values? Regrettably, I think we all have heard it too many times.

Working in the contact center, sponsors and donors call me and want to know if we — if Compassion — is trustworthy or if it’s a scam. These conversations are difficult because I cannot convince that person — through one phone call — to trust us, to trust Compassion.

If someone has been “burned” before, they look for faults in everything — the letters from their sponsored child, the pictures we send them, the way we use the funds we receive.

I have heard questions like “Is my child even real,” and “How do I know that the funds are actually getting to the child?”

I really don’t blame anyone for asking these questions. Were I on the other end of the phone, I’d be asking the same things.

For those of you wondering, here are my thoughts:

We, as Christians, are called to be good stewards of the resources God has given us. Here at Compassion, we are very passionate about ensuring we are.

Internal and independent audits are regularly conducted for our offices in the field and here in Colorado Springs. Every financial process undergoes intensive and continual scrutiny to ensure that funds are properly received, tracked, and managed. We want our program to be effective, so we monitor the child development centers to make sure they are making a difference in the lives of the children we serve.

Our goal is that the children in our program follow Jesus Christ in faith and deed, support themselves and share with others in need, are responsible members of their families, churches, communities and nations; and maintain their own physical well-being by the time they complete our Child Sponsorship Program. We have put measures in place to make sure that these goals are being accomplished.

Is Compassion a trustworthy organization?

Yes, I think so — but don’t just take my word for it. If you are a sponsor with Compassion and have thought about this before, I encourage you to check out Charity Navigator’s review of Compassion.

Not only did we receive the highest rating of four stars last year, but we received it for the previous seven years as well. Chris mentioned that in a blog post last week, “How is My Money Used Each Month?

The question of trustworthiness goes beyond financial accountability. Regrettably, there aren’t any independent rating agencies that I’m aware of that grade organizations on how trustworthy they are. But here are some other resources for you to review if you want more information:

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  1. Jun 29, 2010
    at 2:06 am

    I have gone on a Compassion sponsorship trip and seen my child and the work Compassion does. The teachers, the kids, the families – they are real. The Compassion kids we visited would always bring out their sponsor letters. They are so excited to get letters from their sponsors – the letters are precious to them. I, for one, am always excited to get mail from my child, too, and try to write back. The kids are so precious and so thankful.

  2. Lauren
    Jun 29, 2010
    at 9:52 am

    One of the websites I use to check out a charity is I am pleased and thankful to see Compassion International on their “30 Shining Light Ministries” list each year.

    • Crystlgib
      Jul 31, 2010
      at 7:34 pm

      Actually Compassion only has a 3 out of 5 star rating from ministry watch. I just checked the site.

      • Aug 1, 2010
        at 1:30 pm

        You’re both right. Compassion International is one of Ministry Watch’s “30 Shining Light Ministries” judged on the following criteria.

        b.Truth Claims
        f.Red Flag Issues

        Compassion gets 3 stars overall on financials:

        4-stars on Asset Utilization Efficiency
        3-stars on Resource Allocation Efficiency
        3-stars on Fund Acquisition Efficiency

        Here’s the financials chart used by Ministry Watch so you can see how Compassion’s numbers line up with other organizations:

        Industry average vs. Compassion:
        Fundraising Costs Ratio: 0.062 vs. 0.086
        Contribution Reliance Ratio: 0.831 vs. 0.991
        Spending Ratio: 1.009 vs. 0.957
        Program Output Ratio: 0.82 vs. 0.799
        Degree of Long-term Investment: 2.997 vs. 2.287
        Current Assets Turnover Ratio: 4.916 vs. 5.376

        • Deb Wagner
          Apr 17, 2013
          at 11:54 am

          I am disappointed to know that you can’t do paperless statements. While the rest of the world seems able to you have to be wasting valuable dollars that could be going to the children. I have been asked twice to up my giving. I feel that until I see Compassion International take this step, I will hold my giving as it is.

          • Megan
            Apr 27, 2013
            at 11:38 am

            I agree they could be more resourceful by doing paperless statements, but that’s almost like saying you won’t tithe at church because the church spends money on the bulletins that they hand out, or on the coffee they offer….?

            • Kamiko
              Nov 3, 2013
              at 12:53 pm

              No Megan what she is saying she wants to help the kids, not pay administration. thats why Red Cross is lacking in funds lately, because only 25% of what you give actually helps people, admin gets the other 75%

  3. Danielle
    Jun 29, 2010
    at 1:08 pm

    My name is Danielle and I am 20 years old. and I felt God pulling my heart to give my testimony.

    I have been the sponsor of a Iddi Seleman since 2006. In my junior year of high school, I went to 722 in Atlanta and Lewi Giggleo gave his testimony and recommendation of Compassion and outside the conference hall I became a sponsor. I have cherished all my letters, drawings, prayers and every connection I have had with Iddi these past few years. However, giving money to a organization can bring worries and doubts like “Is all my money really going to my sponsor child?” and “Is this organization honest about what they are telling me?” “Is this making a difference?” To do something like this takes a step of faith and giving your money into God’s hands and letting Him take care of our worries.

    I have not had a chance to visit Iddi in Tanzania but my heart so desires it. However, I have had the awesome blessing to visit Kenya twice in the past two years on a mission trip in Nakuru. I returned June 19th with a gift of reassurance from God. In Kenya, I visited a host family from P.C.E A Nakuru West church family. I was welcomed into the home of Samuel Kimani and his wife Tenesia and their 2 year old son, Philip. After dinner and an hour of talking, I discovered Samuel was a nurse for a Compassion center right there in Nakuru. He went on and on excitingly about all the miracles God delivers through that center and does for the children. He told me that the head office of Compassion in Kenya was ran by the very men and women that were once sponsor children themselves.
    In my heart after hearing a native worker right from within the center talk about the organization with such passion, I wanted to give my recommendation and my witness story that Compassion International is an awesome program to join in on and be a part of.
    Thank you Compassion for following the walk of God.

    Gioto- (means really hot place “Hell”) a dump city in Nakuru where the people sometimes won’t speak it’s name because it is a dangerous place of no hope and it is where you go when you have no where else to go. Samuel told me that Compassion has been able to reach and get children from here just recently and the number keep pouring in since then.

    “God will make a way”

    Samuel and his family.

    Upendo Church (means love)

  4. Michelle
    Jun 29, 2010
    at 4:24 pm

    All of the proof I could ever need is in the letters and photographs of my little girl, Ludis. She went from a scrawny, sad faced little one……… to a healthy, grinny little young lady.

    Also, when I started sponsoring her, she was 9 and 1/2 years old. She wasn’t in school…… One and 1/2 years later? She wrote me her first letter without any help in January!!!! I cried.

    I have a scrapbook I keep with all of her letters and photos in it. Whenever I doubt that I can make an impact upon the world, I pick it up…….

    I wish the people calling in to the Compassion office doubting the ministry’s integrity would just spend a few days reading this blog. Their questions would be more than answered!!!! :)

  5. Michael
    Jun 29, 2010
    at 9:30 pm

    Hi everyone, I am a person who accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior on Easter Sunday 2009 In Aug. of 2009 I was trying to find a Bible verse online when I saw an ad for Compassion International so I click on the ad began reading about Compassion International and how they help children in other countries with the problems of living in poverty. I said to myself this can’t be true so I decided to call them and find out where the money is really going and how are they helping these children. I called Compassion International for three days straight asking question after question, spending hours on the internet trying to find some wrong doing with Compassion International and counldn’t find anything only being a person who had only been saved for 5 months. I talked with my men’s small group who asked me have I prayed to God for answers regarding this matter. I had not done so that night I prayed to God for help. I woke up the next day with so much love and concern for the children living in poverty I immediately went online and I sign up to sponsor Juana from Honduras in Aug. 2009. In March 2010 we also sponsor Daniela from Ecuador. I have received the most precious gift children can share with others and that gift is LOVE!! I have received pictures, letters, and drawings from the girls telling me that they pray for me and the family also they’re both praying that one day I will be able to visit them.
    I encourage those who don’t believe or want to find out about Compassion International please keep calling them asking all the entire questions you need to have your hearts filled with the love for others who live in poverty just remember to pray and ask God for help with your decision to help others who live in poverty. Today God has blessed me with the courage and a heart to become a child advocate for Compassion International. God’s love is Extravagant Compassion International is know doubt !! releasing children from poverty in the name of Jesus Christ.

    • Jun 30, 2010
      at 7:08 pm

      Michael, you do sound like a child advocate! Good move!

  6. Amy Wallace
    Jul 3, 2010
    at 5:30 am

    I’ve been to Colombia, and have seen the work that Compassion is doing with my very own eyes. I have no doubts that Compassion is trust worthy.

  7. Richard McClatchey
    Jul 4, 2010
    at 4:04 pm

    All the proof of Compassion’s sincerity was within the first few months of becoming a sponsor. That was before I went to Peru and discovered first hand that Compassion is as honest as they say they are–although by that time, concerns for that was out the window with me. Granted, before joining Compassion, I had my doubts, hearing about other so-called sponsorship organizations using vast amounts of money for illegal activities. Yes, I was concerned, but I felt that God was leading me to Compassion and told me that this organization can be trusted. Now I’ve been a sponsor for 6 1/2 years and don’t regret a day of it! :)

  8. Don Lloyd
    Jun 7, 2011
    at 3:54 pm

    I had to sit down and share something with all of you … two years ago I decided to sponsor a beautiful little girl in Honduras, who was then 8 years old. After exchanging a couple of letters I noticed something … she never failed to thank me for sponsoring her, and she always asked me to pray for her, and her family, and her country. I told her in one of my responses that for her to get the best education would open up a very difficult world for her to be and do anything that God led her to do. She never forgot that, and last month in her letter to me she reminded me of my advice to her … sheto me then “I feel such a priviledged girl to have someone who loves me and took me into your life and helps me … you told me you would be proud of me if I got a good education. I am doing that, and I will never let you down” … let me ask you how many times do yoou need a child to say that to you before you actually get the message! I know they do some coaching with the little ones to thank you, etc … but, that is okay. If you’re gonna coach someone on anything let it be gratitude! My sponsored little girl loves Jesus, and her family, and me! Oh my gosh, what else is there in life?

  9. Teddy
    Jun 27, 2011
    at 7:15 am

    I am a beneficiary of Compassion International and I categorically believe its not a sham as my sponsor paid for my education right from secondary school through college.I am now working and am preparing to sponsor a child myself to give back to the society.

  10. Erik
    Aug 10, 2011
    at 7:25 am

    I have been a sponsor for almost 7 years now. I had some of the same doubts as everyone that has posted. My attitude was oh well, a tax write-off if anything else.

    All that has changed and I can say this with a little mist in my eyes.

    I just got back from visiting my sponsored child in Sumatra, Indonesia. I visited her home, I saw here church (compassion partner), I met over 30 Compassion children, my daughters played with my sponsored child’s sisters (all girls what a drama!). I even went back for a second visit the next day.

    When i visited their home my family picture, the only picture we ever sent almost 4 years ago was hanging on their wall. They told me they pray several times a week and thank God for our support. After seeing all this I believe them.

    The Birthday gift I usually send around my sponsored child’s birthday always arrives very late! But you would not believe the difference it makes when the Child has so little.

    There is little work in that area so the father must live apart from the family for a year and back home for only a couple of weeks at a time!

    The most shocking thing was the amount of sponsors that have visited that site. Zero! 21 years that Compassion has partnered with that Church I was the first sponsor to visit that site. I was so shocked I didn’t believe. I played dumb, asked the same question to other Compassion staff, I quizzed the teen children and none had ever seen their sponsor or the sponsor of any other Compassion child. It was true. All true.

    A little insight for the disbelievers of Compassion. They are real and at least they are working hard todo as much as possible for that $38/month. The children are real. While we in the US might go several months without thinking of the Child outside that monthly credit card charge and thank Uncle Sam for the tax write-off but those children and their families are playing to God, speaking your name, thanking God for you, calling you mommy and/or daddy.

    Compassion only has about 7-10% more children than there are sponsors. Simple math, more sponsors = more children let into the program.

    I feel ashamed to have thought of my sponsored child as a tax write-off, to have ignored 2 out of 3 of her letters, and have rarely thought of her, and to have been ignorant enough to have thought $38 was all the Child needs!

    Let me explain something about the monthly. It only covers some of the child’s expenses. I am sure each location is a little different but my $38 goes pretty much for school expenses and Compassion sponsored activities. Nope, those public school fees are paid by the parents (not like the property taxes we have in the us) and compassion only reimburses the family once the fees are paid. Compassion makes sure the money is properly spent by the parents by not just giving the parents pure cash.

    It broke my heart to have thought $38 covered my sponsored child’s school, food, clothing, and medical? Compassion does a lot but they aren’t miracle workers. They expect the parents to make efforts too, not just sit at home and dream of a better life. 

    Compassion, yes they are a company with human flaws like any other company, but they are doing a great job with my measly $38/month. Compassion International is a very large company. They have strict guidelines on what they can and cannot do. They are closely monitored by governments, religious organizations, and by us pessimistic sponsors. Their ratio of donated $ to direct child support has as little overhead as possible. The local Christian Churches are partnered with Compassion and most of the monitoring and supervision is done through the Priest and a couple of local Compassion employees.

    After this trip I understand so much more than the ignorant, untrusting sponsor I once was. I will be looking to sponsor an additional 2 children from that local Compassion field office/site. Of course, one of those children will be the youngest sister of my currently sponsored child.

    Sponsor a child. You will be doing more good than you know. If you are pessimistic like me, visit that child when he/she turns a teen and see you your own 2 eyes like we did what that money has accomplished.

    My heart goes out to the work Compassion does.

    Yours truly, Erik

    • Aug 10, 2011
      at 11:05 am

      Erik, that is an incredible testimony. Thank you SO much for taking the time to share it. Even for a long-term sponsor like me, who is 110% committed to Compassion, what you said really made an impact.

  11. Sep 25, 2011
    at 2:04 pm

    I have personally traveled to Sonsonate, El Salvador and met my sponsor child! Compassion International is a legitimate, wonderful organization. I was given a tour of the “project” where my child lives, met many children, heard their stories (they LOVE getting letters from their sponsors). Compassion was transparent – i was able to view kids files where they carefully document correspondence back & forth as well as gifts purchased when sponsors send extra money (ie: birthdays, Christmas, etc.) Compassion is a top-notch organization and I wish I could sponsor more kids! They are positively impacting lives!

  12. pp-br
    Nov 7, 2011
    at 10:33 am

    You are not upto standard at all and failed the accurate testing as in:
    This is why after 20y of sponsoring with you, you were not able to follow-up nor contact me on my concerns regarding the child I sponsored (the letter translations became very brief, one of his letters informed me “you do know I am disabled don’t you?” after 10years of sponsoring him…)?
    Instead your response was “Sorry to lose you, we will find another sponsor for the child”

    • Don Lloyd
      Dec 1, 2011
      at 10:54 am

      I have read this email post quite a number of times, and it concerns me a lot. Not that I don’t trust Compassion, but rather that I do trust Compassion. I think this letter is a sham to one degree or another. Since the person obviously chose to hide by not putting a name it causes me to wonder about legitimacy. First, I wonder what the person who sponsored this poor child did through 10 years of sponsoring? I find it unconscionable that you could communicate for ten years and not know of a disability if that is an important issue to you. Did you ever write to this child? What did you write about? Did you read the responses at all? Did you ever discuss with the child what frequency rate was a comfortable one for him or her? You couldn’t possibly know all the circumstances the child lives in day to day, even after ten years, but you should at least know if the child was willing, or capable to communicate more
      or less frequently. If you weren’t getting responses, did you ask the child why? All children are different … but, if you want to know something from them you have to ask them. Or did you try to pass off your responsibility as a sponsor to someone else, which is the impression I got. You do have responsibilities in that relationship … it isn’t just you pay some money, and sit back and get letters to entertain yourself once a month, or whatever. What did you do, or not do here? Or is this a bogus email like I think it is?
      What did you expect Compassion to say or do when you threatened to quit them? They said “Sorry to lose you, and we will find another sponsor for the child.” What else is there for them to say? Are they going to tell you you can’t quit? Hardly. They can’t force you to stay as a sponsor, besides with the apparent anger in your email they are probably better off without you. If you are in business, either “for profit” or “non-profit” problems are bound to crop up … that is inevitable. They are non-profit … what can they do to fix the problem of you leaving? Beg you to stay? or give you a full refund?
      Hmmmm, I think I am beginning to get the picture now.

    • Joseph Alba
      Dec 1, 2011
      at 5:24 pm

      I’m so sorry to hear your story. I am Joseph Alba, pastor of Salem Christian Life Center, and we are Compassion’s church partners in the Child Development through Sponsorship Program (CDSP) and Child Survival Program (CSP). The CSP program is for babies and their mothers from 0-3 years old, and CDSP program is for children from 3 to 18 or 21 years old. Indeed, there are church partners who fail to come up to Compassion’s stewardship standards, and the projects are closed after due process and extensive dialogue and the children are transferred to another project. In our cluster here in Iloilo City, Philippines, there had been two project closures. All Compassion partner projects are audited annually. In our church, we also have a disabled child named Emilda Soriano, and she reached her dreams and changed her family’s life through Compassion. You can watch her story at and also

      As pastor, I tell my CDSP project director that I hope our project can develop the capability of ministering to at least 30 deaf children through our Compassion program. We are working towards that.

    • Dec 2, 2011
      at 9:38 am

      Compassion International received a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator, 10 years in a row. It receives an “A” rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy and is listed as one of their top-rated charities. Compassion is accredited with the Better Business Bureau and meets the 20 standards for charity accountability.

      As for Givewell, this is a relatively new organization started in 2007 by two 25-year old hedge fund managers. They currently have a full-time staff of four — two hedge-fund managers and two research analysts. The charities they have listed as their “top charities” are both medical in nature — one dealing with malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, another other dealing with parasite infections in sub-Saharan Africa.

      It seems to me that their evaluation process favors health-related charities because those organizations 1) are able to offer easily-quantifiable results, and 2) their mission fits more firmly under the heading of what Givewell considers “priority” programs. (Their “priority programs” include — condom promotion and distribution, anti-retroviral therapy for people with HIV/AIDS, surgeries for surgery-correctable conditions, mass drug administration to control river blindness, etc.) Those aren’t really things that Compassion specializes in.

      Overall, I don’t think a Christian-based holistic child development organization would fare well in Givewell’s evaluation process, simply because Compassion deals in outcomes that aren’t easily quantifiable — increasing children’s self-esteem, quality of life, education, stability within the family, overall child safety, protection from abuse/child trafficking/gangs, spiritual development, etc.

      I did notice that this was brought up by an external reviewer and I’ll be interested to see how Givewell incorporates that feedback into their selection process.

      So, while Givewell has some interesting ideas and I’m excited to see what they do in the future, I’m not sure they’re the one source I’d currently use for choosing a charity. They openly acknowledge on their page that, “…we are a startup organization working in areas we have little experience with…”

      To their credit, it appears they are interested in improving their knowledge base and methods. (They have instituted an internal and external review process.) But as one external reviewer pointed out, they have on occasion “misapplied and applied inconsistently” the heuritics they use to judge organizations. In plain English — they have some kinks to work out in their process. And that’s okay. Hats off to them for wanting to apply their unique talents to the giving process.

  13. margaret
    Dec 1, 2011
    at 9:22 pm

    I’ve been a child sponsor for 30 years. I started sponsoring a child with CCF/Childfund first but after a few years I ‘discovered’ child sponsorship through Compassion. I currently sponsor a lot of kids through Compassion. I love the child focus and Jesus focus of Compassion. I would rate them one of the best Christian sponsorship organizations that I have dealt with. I have had wonderful and not wonderful experiences with other sponsorship organizations but Compassion has been consistently first-rate. I have never doubted my hard-earned money given for child sponsorship was well-spent!

  14. Jan 31, 2012
    at 9:46 am

    Hi this is Trace. I sponsor Josue Pina Garcia of Peru North of Lima.

    Just wanted to send a hello and God bless message to him and his Garcia family and spirtual family over there. And that we be at peace with unbelievers too.
    i speak in tongues with perfect prayers for you all in the name of Jesus Christ AMEN

    May you all be heathy and prosperous.

    sign TAA

    I enjoy Compassion magazine and it’s importance
    oh yes, I saw the article on web about the man who travels to help other people. Wer are both from Grand Rapids Michigan

  15. Lori Sutton
    Mar 15, 2012
    at 2:44 pm

    I have had the privilege and blessing of visiting 3 different Compassion projects in Ethiopia. On one of those visits, I was able to meet my sponsored child, tour the school he attends, and visit in his home with his family, sharing gifts. He showed me all the things I had mailed to him over the years, keeping it all in a small picture album. In the beginning of my sponsorship, I too had some doubts, but my eyes have seen what Compassion does for these kids, and I am 100% convinced that they are real and striving to honor God is all they do. My heart was convicted and changed, and I will support the work of Compassion for as long as I am able, as I know it pleases our Heavenly Father.

  16. Nov 22, 2012
    at 11:41 am

    Really, Compassion Internatinal is doing a very good and big job. There are some challenges like ones we experience at our local Church ie Little commitment of the local workers, inadequate education, greedy staffs and untruthworthness to some of them that hinders the achievement targeted by Compassion Office in our Home Country Tanzania! Only after dealing with these few scams, then we will be there, joining hands to congratulate them!

    Mar 26, 2013
    at 12:42 am


  18. Joyce Naumu
    May 1, 2013
    at 3:51 am

    I’m glad I came across this discussion as I decided to sponsor a beautiful girl from India after church on Sunday. She caught my eye because I had recently read a book Behind the Beautiful Forevers about people who live around a sewage lake in Mumbai. I had always wondered about organizations like Compassion and when my horoscope said to do my research regarding financial decisions I found this site. Thank you all I loved reading all your stories, God bless all of you and especially the children……Jesus loves them all.

  19. May 1, 2013
    at 2:27 pm

    I’m so glad I took the link to the latest comment, because (a) it tells of another child’s having been sponsored (thank you, Joyce!); and (b) coming on today allowed me to read the two comments above Joyce’s. How absolutely precious it is to hear from Dawkins Ochieng and Mworia! We sponsor a young girl and a young man in Kenya, and two girls in Tanzania, so both countries are very close to my heart!

    Mworia, I will pray that “these few scams,” along with any others that crop up, will be dealt with soon, that the guilty parties will be fired–unless the Lord convicts them in their hearts, bringing true repentence. I will also pray for great wisdom among your Compassion leaders in TZ in handling such matters. God bless you for your work, there!

  20. Robert
    Dec 4, 2013
    at 11:25 am

    Compassion maybe legitimate but I have witnessed first hand their blatant disregard for their sponsors money. Just search social media and you will see trips all over the world. This maybe necessary but the expensive restaurant’s first class hotels and bar bills should be questioned. I found a director at Compassion who complained because they have “status” and could not get the upgraded seat they wanted. Or the executive who uses their frequent flier miles compliments of the folks who sponsor children to buy air line tickets for friends and family. Look at their facilities, nothing wrong with a nice work place but it is obvious they put themselves in front of the children they claim to help.

    • Brett Clark
      Dec 5, 2013
      at 2:15 am

      I’ve been happily sponsoring children through Compassion and I can attest to the positive changes I have seen in my children. I think that it is worthwhile.

      I am not so naive to think that everyone in these organisations is motivated out of selfless motives and I get angry at myself for not holding the leaders of these organisations to a higher standard.

      Essentially all these organisations are just multinational begging organisations and we , the sponsors, pay the top beggars a lot of money to beg for money from us.

      These leaders don’t produce anything they simply administer the money that we the sponsors have given and that’s worth up to half a million salary plus perks.

  21. Darren Bailey
    Dec 13, 2013
    at 1:54 pm

    Sadly, I’ll be giving up sponsorship to Compassion UK in February 2014. My experience with them has been less than candid. I sponsor two children: one in Uganda and the other in Mexico, since they were 4 years old. I have received letters from Mexico, but often many many months later than letters sent to them. The same is true of Uganda. Often the replies are disjointed and I’ve had the odd letter with drawings and little else which reflects badly on the education they are supposed to be getting. Sadly, the letters from my child is in Uganda were laced with political comments too and subject matter no kid would use. to describe their surroundings. “You mighty man of God, the Lord bless you, hoping this letter finds you well” is not the language of a kid. Questions I asked went unanswered. That meant either my letters to them were not being properly translated to them, or those written back were being written by a person who had little knowledge of them and just filled in the space to make it sound good. I wasn’t convinced I was hearing from the children I sponsored.

    Furthermore, the cover for my child in Uganda stated they were an only child. The only child stated they had a lot of brothers and sisters and gave me their names. The child in Mexico was being raised by an uncle, but gave me the names of his father, his mother, and a photograph of his sister, and told me about trips he went on from time to time. It sounded more authentic than the letters I was getting from Uganda, at least.

    There has always been problems with communication and accuracy of information vital to building relationships was low. To date I know next to nothing about the children I sponsor which is a sad reflection of the antiquated and poor service Compassion UK operates. There is clearly something wrong somewhere.

    I did get photos, and they tell their own story. I noted my sponsorship had done precious little to raise either of them out of poverty. They were always sad in their photos, their clothes look tattered, shoes that didn’t fit, and one of them always looks hungry (my Ugandan child).

    At one point, months after the event, I was told their mother was taken into hospital which, should have made that child an orphan if she had died. Out of concern I asked Compassion UK about her. They told me it was a local matter and nothing to do with them. I wondered how the child’s health, provision, mental well-being, without a mother who was in hospital, was of no concern of Compassion UK?

    Yet I have received endless demands for more sponsor for a desperate situation. I have wondered what St Paul would make of this? What Christ himself would say about Compassion UK in these cases? I regularly receive updates from another organisation my wife supports and the change is visible in the children MONTH on MONTH. They are better dressed, better educated, happy, and yet these were all rescued from terrible circumstances. Their smiles are natural and genuine. Far removed from children I see stood against a tree, or up against a wall looking like they’re about to be shot.

    Compassion UK has not worked for me. I’m glad other children have risen out of poverty on account of your sponsorship; and I’m glad it has worked out for you. Most worrying, it has not work for THEM. They are the important ones, and my sponsorship has not helped them. On account of Compassion UK’s handling I’ve found myself making extremely tough choices at their expense. I will find it very difficult to forgive Compassion UK for that:

    * My child was hungry and you did not feed him.
    * My child was in prison without his mother. You didn’t help.
    * My child’s mother was very sick and it wasn’t your problem.

    I urge all supporters of Compassion UK to look past the glossy brochures and the promises, and the heart pull techniques they employ – and assess them. Assess them hard for what they say they do for YOUR child, or children you support, with your hard earned money, or the saving you live on and give up on account of them, and hold them accountable for every penny you sponsor to deliver that which they say they will do. It is their core promise: to raise a child out of poverty.

    One final point: I visited Mexico two years ago, and notified Compassion UK to see if a visit could be arranged to meet my child there. They were less than a hundred miles away. I traveled over 4,000 miles to get to that point, to that date. I never received a reply from Compassion UK. I never met my child. It probably would have done more to convince me to stay, to see for myself, but it never happened.

    So, reluctantly, I will have to say goodbye in February 2014 – the same month an automatic levy was set up to take more out of my finance to deliver more of the same.

    To my kids…. so sorry.

  22. Frank
    Apr 9, 2014
    at 4:10 pm

    Thank you Darren Bailey for your honest sharing! I have a sense like you. And I just check what their CEO paid, guess how much he get? It’s $300,000 something! If you really help kids you won’t get something good paid from the sponsors that love the kids! I’m sorry my kids. It would be goodbye in April 2014 for me too. God bless!

  23. Kyle
    Apr 16, 2014
    at 11:18 am

    I gave up on my sponsorship last year. According to Compassion International, I was sponsoring an eight year old girl in Ghana named Elizabeth. I was told that she was an only child who was raised by her aunt because her parents had passed away. In the few letters that I received, her information/background was very inconsistent. She would say things like, “Please pray for my parents to have more money to provide for me and my two brothers.” In every letter, it made me feel like my contributions weren’t enough. I paid the regular amount, which was like $30/month. Then at the end of every month, I would send some extra. I gave way more than enough. I also felt hassled by Compassion International for not including prayers in my letters, not a big deal, but annoying. I’m not a religious person, I just wanted to do something for someone less fortunate than myself.

    • Susan Sayler
      Apr 21, 2014
      at 9:12 am

      I’m really sorry to hear that you felt misled and hassled by Compassion. :( That was not our intention at all. It definitely sounds like you had a very legitimate concern in your child’s letters since they were inconsistent. We would have been (and if you’re still sponsoring, we’re happy to) check into the situation and verify that we have correct information on your child. We welcome the opportunity to improve. Regrettably, we can’t make things better if we don’t know there is a problem. Also, we so so appreciate all that you have done for this child! The monthly donations of $38 is a lot and it does a lot for your child. In no way did we expect or intend to force you to give more. Many sponsors and donors are itching for more ways to give and help people in need. We simply would like to provide the education for those who have the desire to give more on how they can give more. We don’t require our sponsors to be religious, however our program is a Christian program, and the children will often include religious things in their letters. I’m so sorry that we made you feel uncomfortable with this. Please let me know if you are still sponsoring and if there is any way that we can make this up to you. My email is

  24. Heather Marie
    Aug 6, 2014
    at 8:45 pm

    There is much going back and forth about the integrity of the organization and looking for proof that one should sponsor a child through Compassion or not. I would like to encourage any believer to ask God through prayer whether He would like them to use His money in this way. He alone knows the absolute truth about the heart of any individual or organization and whether it would be of benefit to both the sponsor and the donor. Remember that we don’t have because we don’t ask. I prayed to God about my decision when I was seventeen and I have sponsored children now for 27 years. I know He led me to do this. It is a settled thing in my heart. I appreciate the blessings I have received and pray earnestly for the continued integrity of Compassion. God wants me to pray earnestly for my child and encourage her as well as send the money. I am privileged and blessed to do this for Him. For His glory.

  25. Lana Lambert
    Aug 10, 2014
    at 8:08 pm

    I sponsored a child from El Salvador for 7 years, beginning when she was 11 and ending when she became 18. I found it very rewarding; however, I was very disappointed the way it ended. I sent money for her a Christmas present in 2013, money for her birthday for April 1, 2014, and a graduation check for $200, plus a good-bye letter, and never received any acknowledgements for these. Consequently, I wonder if she received them, so I would probably not sponsor another child, but would give my money locally, so that I could personally see the benefits to a child.

    • Sandy Bennetch
      Aug 11, 2014
      at 9:13 am

      I, too, had a disjointed goodbye with my grown child in El Salvador. After many months, I did receive a large photo of my sponsored child, working at a small computer, and thanking me for supporting him over the years. I am grateful for it. Just remember what a blessing you have been to her, even if the distance or conditions did not allow a final note to you.

    • Emily Vanhoutan
      Aug 11, 2014
      at 12:03 pm

      Hi Lana! I am very sorry that you did not receive a thank you letter for the gifts that you sent to Marcela. We are grateful for your generosity and blessing your child in such a tangible way! Because it takes 2-3 months for gifts and letters to be delivered both ways, we ask that our sponsor’s wait up to 6 months to receive an acknowledgement for the gift they sent. Our records indicate that Marcela was to graduate the program in April of 2014. I see that you sent her a graduation gift as well as her birthday gift in January of 2014. She would have received these gifts in the beginning of April when she was completing the program. The way our program works, sponsors are not guaranteed to receive a Christmas gift acknowledgement since all Christmas gifts are combined and distributed evenly among both sponsored and unsponsored children to ensure each child receives a gift. Because of this, children may or may not tell their sponsor in their next letter, what they received for Christmas. Your child is always told however, that the gift she receives for Christmas is from you. Our policy also does not require that a thank you letter be sent for the final graduation gift. The reason for this is because once a child completes our program, we have no way to require a thank you letter from that child since they no longer attend the project. I certainly apologize for any misunderstanding or confusion in regards to the time frame of receiving an acknowledgement for the gifts you sent and if this information was not communicated to you. Although you are no longer sponsoring Marcela, I would be happy to inquire with our field staff, what she was able to purchase with the birthday gift you sent. Please let me know if you would like us to research this gift further for you. You can reply on here or email us at I do want to encourage you that your child received 100% of your generous graduation gift, birthday gifts, family gifts, and other child gifts sent over the years, each letter, and sticker that you encouraged her with, and we are grateful for the impact you made in her life.

  26. Calvin Cheatham
    Aug 21, 2014
    at 6:36 pm

    For a given child, when does the sponsorship program end, i.e., at what age? You indicated that the goal of the program included supporting the child until they are able to support themselves. Does that happen when they become adults? How many sponsors does it take to support one child through the process?

    • Emily Vanhoutan
      Aug 22, 2014
      at 9:06 am

      Hi Calvin! These are great questions, I am happy to clarify this for you. :) Each country that we partner with has a maximum age that the children are able to attend the program and it varies per country. The completion age in our countries ranges from 18-22 years old. The children in our projects may or may not stay in the program until they reach this age. Some leave after high school and begin working, helping their families, or go onto reach other goals they have. Others decide to stay in our program for extra vocation training. Once your child reaches their final year in the project, we send reminders to you so that you can prepare to say goodbye.

      In regards to one child having multiple sponsors, Compassion is a one to one sponsorship program. We value the impact of the relationship that each sponsor can build with their child and the hope they can bring through letter writing. Although children may have had multiple sponsor’s throughout their time in the program as circumstances arise and some sponsor’s need to cancel their support before their child completes the program; Compassion only has one sponsor per child.

  27. Lindsay
    Sep 1, 2014
    at 7:32 pm

    Hello. I recently have begun sponsorship of a boy in Central America. I know the Colorado Springs area well. It is a favorite headquarters for multiple Christian organizations, although I’m not sure why Colorado. The above post about the CEO receiving a 6 digit salary plus staff taking expensive trips with family concern me. Can someone from CI address this? I’m a teacher in remote, rural Alaska where all of us faculty and staff stretch our pennies and live with exceedingly less than the general American, and I want every one of my dollars to count. Living frugally and being content is possible for westerners. It truly is. Even my district administrators don’t earn 1/3 that much. That is much too much salary for a non profit Christian outreach. Why is the CEO’s salary so high? Do the directors receive similar salaries?

    • Emily Vanhoutan
      Sep 3, 2014
      at 2:49 pm

      Hi Lindsay! First off, thank you so much for choosing to change the life of a child in poverty! We understand that you are giving selflessly out of the goodness of your heart and that is why stewardship is so important and integrity is a high priority for Compassion. I am very sorry for any concerns that the salary of our CEO’s has caused you. Our intention is to be transparent with our generous donors and those that are making such a huge difference in these children’s lives. Our statement on stewardship says that, “The ministry of Compassion belongs to the children, our Implementing Church Partners, our sponsors and donors, our Supporting Church Partners and ultimately to God. Therefore, we protect, develop, and deploy all of our resources (people, time, money, knowledge, reputation and materials) with great care and wisdom.” In order to develop quality staff at Compassion while at the same time managing our financial resources with great care and wisdom, Compassion offers competitive salaries for the various positions necessary to successfully execute Compassion’s mission statement. To make sense of the salary we pay our president and CEO, please understand that his income is well under the average salary range of other presidents and CEOs of other organizations who are within the same categorization as Compassion. Also, our leaders are faithful sponsors and donors as well, and personally and financially support the ministry. I completely understand that you want ever dollar you donate to count. Our core mission remains to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. And we will continue being committed to at least 80% of each dollar you send, going towards the programs that directly impact your child.

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