give a gift Working in the contact center, I speak to many sponsors who ask for directions for sending a package to their sponsored child. Regrettably, packages can’t be sent. However, you can send a monetary gift — an option many sponsors I speak with are unaware of.

We do not accept packages, primarily because of customs and duty costs. In most cases, the cost of shipping and duty would exceed the value of the gift. Also, the risk of theft or loss of the package while in route is very high.

We send all of our mail through customs as “documents.” There isn’t a fee for shipping a document. However, if customs opens one of our boxes of letters and finds a piece of jewelry, they will hold that entire box of letters until they receive the customs fee for that item. This can cause letters to be unnecessarily held for long periods of time.

Each day, we receive items that we are unable to ship. Our correspondence team is in charge of contacting you to see if you would like the item returned or donated to a local charity. Doing this is quite a task as these items tend pile up fairly quickly.

I understand that it’s disappointing not to be able to pick out your child’s gift and send it directly. Putting the thought, time and effort into sending a gift conveys love and sometimes “just” sending money seems impersonal. But if you’re willing to spend the money to purchase items here in the U.S., won’t you consider forwarding the money to your sponsored child? The money you send helps stimulate the economy in your child’s community, instead of here in the U.S.

Why should I give a gift?

The simplest answer I can give you is that it blesses your sponsored child and the child’s family and is a way to meet the needs in their lives. Monetary gifts to your sponsored children mean new outfits, their first pair of shoes, or the beginning of an income-generating business for the family.

Last fall, I sent a family gift to my sponsored child, Angela, in Bolivia. Incredibly, she and her family were able to buy so much with what I sent. With $75 American dollars, they were able to purchase a blue jean jacket, undergarments, a wool poncho, a jacket, a skirt, school materials, shoes for several members of her family, food supplies and a backpack for Angela’s brother, Jose.

The child development center staff even sent a picture of Angela with her family and everything they bought. Letters acknowledging the gift are sent every time a gift is received, but not everyone receive pictures.

If you send a gift of more than $60 you will receive a picture of your sponsored child posing with what was purchased.

I want to send a gift to my sponsored child. How does it work?

After we close our books for the month, our finance department receives a list of all the gifts given during that month. For most countries, we convert the gift into the country’s currency and transfer the funds to the country office’s bank. Some of our offices will either have their bank make the exchange from U.S. dollars to the local currency, or they will just use U.S. dollars.

Once the country office receives the money, a staff member transfers the funds to the respective child development centers. Some centers receive the money by check and some receive it directly transferred into a bank account. This entire process can take two to three months.

After the center staff receive the money, they set up a meeting with your sponsored child. In the meeting the staff member informs the child of your gift and discusses what some of the child’s and family’s needs are.

Next, your child signs for the gift to acknowledge that it was received. They then head to the market where the staff member helps your child purchase the items.

One hundred percent of what you give is used to make the purchase.

Finally, your sponsored child will write you a letter letting you know what was purchased and possibly include a picture, depending on the amount of the gift and your child’s center.

If you do not receive a letter within six months of sending your gift, please contact us. We will contact our country office for more information.

What kind of gifts can I send?

You have a few different options for sending a monetary gift. You can send $10 to $100 as a birthday gift or general gift up to two times a year and $25 to $,1000 as a family gift.

A birthday gift will be just that — a birthday gift for your child. When you send a family gift, the child and his or her family decide together what to purchase. A general gift can be sent for any reason and can used by the child or family to purchase what is needed at that time.

You also have the option of donating any amount, we typically suggest $20, to the Christmas Gift Program on your sponsored child’s behalf.

Although other gifts can be given any time of year, we request that gifts to the Christmas Gift Program be given by October 31, 2010 to ensure that the gifts are delivered by Christmas.

Wow! This is so great, Shaina! I am going to send a gift every month.

That’s actually not the best idea. Your sponsored child’s family most likely lives on less than $2 a day and a monetary gift will mean quite a bit to them. To help avoid creating a sense of dependence on your gifts we discourage doing this. Also, monthly gifts can lead to jealousy within the community and put your sponsored child and family at risk.

I really want to send my child a gift, but I can send only $5 this month.

The cost associated with processing the monetary gifts means we can’t accept gifts for less than $10. I encourage you to set your $5 aside, join it with another one of its $5 friends the following month, and then send the gift to us.

When I was little, I had the cutest teddy bear. I really want my sponsored child to have the same thing.

While you are welcome to suggest what you would like your sponsored child to purchase, the child makes the final decision regarding what is purchased. If your sponsored child is too young to make the decision on their own, the child’s family will help with the decision.

So do you have to send a gift to your child?

No. Does it bless them and their family incredibly? Yes. Emphatically, yes.

We originally published this post on Aug. 9, 2010. The italicized text reflects new correspondence guidelines.

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  1. Aug 9, 2010
    at 5:42 am

    This is a great blog post and I hope that it is posted to the FB page! I am an advocate and when I talk to sponsors, I have found that many don’t know this is an option. I am always joyful to receive a photo of our children with their gifts! I am also thankful we have the means to send money for birthdays and Family gifts at least once a year.
    In the past month we received photos of our children in Ghana, Guatemala and Ethiopia with birthday gifts. You can see them on my blog at http://meeshimama.blogspot.com

  2. Catherine
    Aug 9, 2010
    at 6:45 am

    While I do wish I could send a care package to my child, I am incredibly impressed with how much Compassion listens to my gift-giving suggestions. I usually give a large family gift amount at Christmas time, and a birthday gift on her birthday every year. With every year, I suggest what gifts I’d like the birthday money to buy. EVERY YEAR I get a thank you letter from my child explaining what she bought with her birthday money, and every year it is exactly what I suggest (and more).

    Usually I suggest things that she mentions in her previous letters from the year. This year, she was writing to me about how much she was struggling with her science lessons, and how much she LOVED coloring and drawing and art in general. With the birthday money I sent, I requested that it buy science related coloring books. A couple months later, I received a letter from her thanking me for the money and how it bought her dresses, a watch, and coloring books with themes of animal kingdom, human body, weather, etc.

    I was giddy when I read it. Our letters between us and our children help us bond with them and I think if sponsors listen and pick up on the little things the children mention in their letters, the fact that we can’t send actual gifts will dissipate.

    I have yet to receive a picture with my child and her gifts, but the letters themselves do everything justice. I love reading her happiness. :)

    Thanks for the blog!

    • Emily
      Jun 19, 2012
      at 5:02 pm

      Wow! That is so cool! I never thought of that!

  3. Debbie
    Aug 9, 2010
    at 7:00 am

    Yeah, not sure why people don’t know this information as it is in the booklet that we receive with each child’s information, but people are always bringing it up on OC. My experience, though, with pictures is that I have only received a picture of gifts from one child this past year, and I have a lot of kids that I have sent gifts to. I do wish more projects sent pictures.

  4. [...] Giving a Gift to Your Sponsored Child: The Whys, Whats and Hows [...]

  5. Sarah Sch
    Aug 9, 2010
    at 7:47 am

    There is nothing more humbling than seeing what your children are able to buy (and what they choose to buy) with the monetary gifts. For example, I sent a family gift of $50 to my child in Uganda. Her family purchased a goat, shoes for the whole family, and dishes. Her project is so wonderful about sending pictures, and that picture of Caroline and her goat was PRICELESS! She had the biggest smile on her face. With the same family gift, they also purchased a mattress. Caroline told me that it is the first mattress her family has ever owned and now they don’t have to sleep on the DIRT floor. Wow. I don’t think anything that I could have bought for $50 here in the US and sent in a package could compare to being able to buy a goat and a mattress and what that means to her family.

    I just received pictures of her for her birthday with the gifts she purchased. With the $15 I sent, she bought sheets for the mattress :) as well as a bag for school because she is now able to study harder.

    I may not be able to do much, but it is a blessing to see Caroline’s smile and read her thank yous. It is so humbling and such a blessing when a 10 year old in Uganda calls you her “best friend.”

  6. jennifer
    Aug 9, 2010
    at 8:09 am

    This is a great blog! It really answers any question that I can think of regarding gift-giving. I’m not new to gift-giving and it answered questions I didn’t even know I had! Thanks, Shaina! And by the way, your Angela and her family are beautiful!! Thanks for sharing your picture!

  7. Denise L.
    Aug 9, 2010
    at 10:59 am

    I wasn’t aware the ceiling for annual gifts to a family is now $1000, when it’s been $300 for a very long time.

    I visited Yesica in Bolivia 4 years ago, and found out she was walking 15 blocks each way to her student center. (She had transferred there when her family moved, and it was the closest one.) In January I sent $100 for a bike and lock. Dollars really go far in the third world – she chose a beautiful bike with carrier platform, a lock, long-sleeve tee shirt, slippers, and a backpack. Her center sends photos, and Yesica was just beaming. She says now she is never late to the student center, and she can take her little sister on the back to drop her off at her elementary school.

    In the past, I’ve sent family gifts about 3 times a year, and they’re used for food staples and once for a new dresser. Then when Yesica tells me that her family went to visit relatives in what was to her a great and rare adventure in another part of Bolivia, it’s apparent that the family can make more choices about how they spend their income when some of the basics are taken care of.

    You can also make gifts to YOUR CHILD’S STUDENT CENTER. This would take an explanatory letter to Compassion along with your gift. When I gave $100 to Yesica’s center, the staff wrote the thank-you letter and included a photo of themselves with the shiny new wooden chairs they’d needed in the youngest age group’s room.

    • Aug 9, 2010
      at 1:37 pm

      Denise, I think Compassion Canada allows a family gift of up to $1000. It’s a $300 maximum for those sponsoring through the U.S. program. (Unless that’s changed.)

      I didn’t know you could send a gift to your child’s student center!! What a very great idea!

      • Aug 9, 2010
        at 5:29 pm

        The gift giving amounts listed in this post are accurate for all Compassion partner countries. The limits have recently been raised.

        • Aug 9, 2010
          at 6:25 pm

          That’s exciting! I like that we have more flexibility and I like that it’s uniform amongst partner countries.

    • seena
      May 13, 2011
      at 10:42 am

      hi denise, our little girl’s name in bolivia is yesica as well. is taht a common name there??

  8. Ruth
    Aug 9, 2010
    at 11:49 am

    Just this week I send a monetary family gift for all my 10 children like I did last year around this time. I didn’t get photos of the kids with their money gifts but they did thank me for what they bought with it: clothes, food, school supplies, small animals etc. One African child whose mom is a single parent said they had bought tin building materials with the money. They had been renting a single room and I interpreted what she wrote as they were able to ‘build’ their own add-on rent-free room. That made me very happy.

    My concern and struggle with giving family money gifts of large amounts is that are we are singling out the kids and their families from other kids and families? It’s like them winning the lottery when converting the money in local currency. Does this make them more vulnerable from those who would plot to rob them of the goods they buy?? Does this cause them to be envied by their neighbors and/or ostracized?? Is it better to give to the projects so more kids can be helped?? I struggle with these questions each year. Maybe a Compassion staff member can address them…

    • Shaina
      Aug 11, 2010
      at 12:03 pm

      The question you brought up is one that I hear sometimes from sponsors who call the contact center. Gifts are handled in a very private matter once received. The staff does not announce the gifts to the entire project – only to the child and their family. This allows the staff to review the family’s current needs and talk about how to use the funds appropriately.

      But, just as a child who does not receive a letter from their sponsor may be upset or jealous of another child who does, gifts can cause the same issue- no matter what preventions are taken. We are unable to prevent a child from talking to others about gifts they receive.

      • keith
        Aug 11, 2010
        at 2:21 pm

        No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
        by Franklin P. Adams

        There was a man in our town who had King Midas’ touch;
        He gave away his millions to the colleges and such;
        And people cried: “The hypocrite! He ought to understand
        The ones who really need him are the children of this land!”

        When Andrew Croesus built a home for children who were sick,
        The people said they rather thought he did it as a trick,
        And writers said: “He thinks about the drooping girls and boys,
        But what about conditions with the men whom he employs?”

        There was a man in our town who said that he would share
        His profits with his laborers, for that was only fair,
        And people said: “Oh, isn’t he the shrewd and foxy gent?
        It cost him next to nothing for that free advértisement!”

        There was a man in our town who had the perfect plan
        To do away with poverty and other ills of man,
        But he feared the public jeering, and the folks who would defame him,
        So he never told the plan he had, and I can hardly blame him.

        • Shari
          Aug 13, 2010
          at 1:39 pm

          that is fantastic poem! thank you

    • Amos Safo
      Aug 11, 2010
      at 12:44 pm

      My concern and struggle with giving family money gifts of large amounts is that are we are singling out the kids and their families from other kids and families? It’s like them winning the lottery when converting the money in local currency. Does this make them more vulnerable from those who would plot to rob them of the goods they buy?? Does this cause them to be envied by their neighbors and/or ostracized?? Is it better to give to the projects so more kids can be helped??

      The view that gifts to families will expose them to danger is a bit general; perhaps in other countries where crime is rife that might be the case.

      In Ghana people are hardly targeted for receiving gifts or holding cash. The gifts to families are professionally handled by the development workers. In many instances, they educate the families on how to preserve the gift or invest it into small scale businesses to generate more income for the family.

      It is your choice to give to a center or a family; however, I encourage you to continue to support families.

      Amos Safo, Ghana Program Communications Manager

  9. Aug 9, 2010
    at 2:45 pm

    Ruth: You raise a good point. However, I think it is good to keep in mind that our gifts are like a “Stimulus Package” to the areas where our children live as well. If our children choose gifts that can gain a profit, that profit also goes to help the local economy.

    • keith
      Aug 10, 2010
      at 11:53 am

      “My concern and struggle with giving family money gifts of large amounts is that are we are singling out the kids and their families from other kids and families?”

      I have found myself dealing with this same issue and have commented on it in a previous blog entry.
      Why do I send money to sponsor one girl a world away when there are so many needs to be met?
      Should I send her a gift or should I sponsor another child? Am I sending too much? Maybe I should do more.

      Luke 3:10-11
      “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.
      John answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.”

      Notice he did not say to shred the tunic and hand out the pieces.
      And he did not say to make sure the food wasn’t too good so as to not cause any envy.

      Things are not often “fair”. One child gets sponsored and the next does not. If you send gifts some of them are probably used to buy “good” things and some of them “less good” things. If you have ever tried to reseed a lawn you may have had the experience of throwing a handful of seed toward a bare spot only to have a sudden breeze catch the seeds and blow them toward the driveway. You find out that you can’t un-sow the seeds. You do the best you can, but once you release the seed the rest is in God’s hands.

      And if you are still worried about what the child’s neighbors might think or do…

      Philippians 4:6-7
      Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
      And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

      • Ruth
        Aug 10, 2010
        at 8:36 pm

        Hi Keith,

        What you said is very true. It does seem unfair that some kids get more and some kids have less – whether they are our sponsor kids abroad or our own kids in North America. I guess there is no real ‘right’ answer to this question except to give by love and prayer as guided by the Holy Spirit…

      • jennifer
        Aug 11, 2010
        at 7:58 am

        I love your explanation, Keith!! Thank you!

  10. Compassion dave
    Aug 10, 2010
    at 10:23 am

    Probably the #1 question at a sign-up table…

  11. Mike Stephens
    Aug 10, 2010
    at 5:25 pm

    $1,000 family gift! That is quite a jump! Guess I might have to go get a better job ;) hahaha All I know is the more you give the more you GET so I try to give a lot woooohooooooooooooooooo b/c I love to GET myself!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Paul
    Aug 11, 2010
    at 2:40 am

    Question regarding care packages: While I understand care packages cannot be sent, what about bringing one when you visit them through the sponsorship tours? The Compassion store sells a backpack with a soccer ball that you can take to your child. Will you have to pay duty fees/custom fees on it when you enter your child’s country?

    • Aug 11, 2010
      at 8:53 am

      Yes, it is possible. I have taken packages for other people’s children and have sent gifts with other for my children. If you carry the package in your suitcase you should not have to pay any extra fees.

  13. Rebecca
    Aug 11, 2010
    at 6:17 am

    Chris, are we able to give a financial gift to our child’s specific project(ex.GU407)?

    • Aug 11, 2010
      at 6:26 am

      Yes. Between $100 and $2,000 with a $2,000 annual limit. The gift can’t be done online though. You will need to call our contact center at 800-336-7676.

  14. Aug 11, 2010
    at 8:51 am

    I am so glad to hear that the limit for gifts has increased! While I probably will not be able to afford a large gift on a regular basis, it is nice to know that I can send more money if I know of a specific need for one of my children.

    Thank you so much for writing this post!

  15. Aug 13, 2010
    at 10:37 pm

    wow perfect timing! i am still reading through the archives chronologically and suddenly i thought of new year in ethiopia. i wished Tamirat a happy new year, and I was wondering how long it would take for a gift to get there, and i just happened to see this in recent posts. sadly, i am too late for this year, but i am glad to know for the future! time for a birthday gift!

  16. Diane Nichols
    Aug 14, 2010
    at 8:30 am

    I sent $10 each birthday to my sponsored as well as my correspondence children, one of the young ladies I sponsor, Neema from Tanzania buys clothes and sometimes food, she sends me pictures of her in the clothes and of the food she bought (her favorite is chicken and rice), sometimes they just tell me what they bought but $10 goes a long way, I managed to send a larger gift to one of the children and they managed to buy him some new clothes, toys, ate at a chicken place in the city, fixed a window on their house and had new toilet facilities in their house. The before and after picture of the facilities was a big change. His mother wrote of his eating at the chicken house that she cried because her son was able to eat till he was full and couldn’t hold anymore and that was an unusual occurence. I just love writing to our kids and receiving their replies and the joy that comes through their letter about the gifts we sent.

  17. Becky
    Oct 8, 2010
    at 5:53 pm

    When we send a family gift is the money given directly to the parents or does someone take them shopping for needed items?

    • Shaina
      Oct 11, 2010
      at 9:33 am

      The staff will take the family to the market and help them purchase what they need. Cash is never given to the family to ensure that they are not made vulnerable by it.

  18. Becky
    Oct 16, 2010
    at 2:12 pm

    Shaina,
    Thanks for that info. That is good to know.

  19. Jana Ketch
    Oct 18, 2010
    at 7:10 pm

    My child lives in Honduras. His birthday is Jan 2. Should I send him a gift now (2 months in advance) so he will get it in time? If it should arrive before his birthday, will the student center wait until his birthday before giving it to him? Thanks for any info.

    • Shaina
      Oct 19, 2010
      at 9:10 am

      I would recommend sending the gift at the beginning of November. The project may hold it until your sponsored child’s birthday, but most likely they will give it to the child as soon as it is received.

    • Steph
      Nov 10, 2010
      at 9:49 am

      Hi Jana. I sponsor a child in Burkina Faso and his birthday is Feb. 22 and I recieved an e-mail this week from compassion stating that they needed to recieve his birthday gift by Dec. 22 to insure delivery by his b-day. I have been a sponsor for a few years now and this is the first year I had recieved a specific date to send by which is a big help. Thought that might help you as well!

  20. sebastian
    Dec 6, 2010
    at 1:34 am

    Iam in Uganda and currently,it gives me great joy to read and know more about how God is working amazing through his children worldwide through the blessing of compassion,i have been excessively blessed to be be part of compassion family and i owe God much as long as i live.

  21. Dec 23, 2010
    at 2:21 pm

    My family are new sponsors. This information on gift giving has been very helpful. Do we send our money online to Compassion with that child’s number or mail a check to Compassion and mark it for a birthday etc.?

    • Shaina
      Dec 27, 2010
      at 7:36 am

      Yes, you may give a gift by logging in to your account on compassion.com, you may call us at (800) 336-7676 to process the gift, or you may mail a check and include a note that it should be given as a birthday gift to your sponsored child.

  22. Sharon
    Jan 11, 2011
    at 7:40 pm

    This may be a really ignorant question but I haven’t seen it addressed anywhere so far so here goes. I would like to send a birthday gift to my correspondence child but know I can’t do it online … I’m assuming I just make a check out to Compassion and mail it in with my next letter to her? do I need to fill out any kind of form or anything so they know it’s for her birthday?

    • Shaina
      Jan 12, 2011
      at 10:34 am

      You can include a check with your next letter to your correspondence child. Simply write “Birthday Gift” in the memo line with your sponsor number. You may also contact us at (800) 336-7676 to give a gift over the phone.

      • Sharon
        Jan 12, 2011
        at 2:10 pm

        Thanks… that helps!

  23. vivian bonsall
    Jan 29, 2011
    at 8:52 am

    First thank you all for the ideas I have read. Has anyone sent the accordian album that you get from Oriental Trading? They are sort of stiff and run close to the thickness allowed. would it work if I cut them in half? thank you for any help you can offer.

  24. Feb 2, 2011
    at 11:11 am

    I was just going to send a family gift, but is it too soon after Christmas? The last family gift I sent was in September, but my child’s birthday is in December, so he also just received two gifts in Dec. I assume this gift wouldn’t reach his family till end of February or March/April? I’m just so worried about not giving at the right intervals, I don’t want the family to be in any danger or to become dependent!

    • Shaina
      Feb 2, 2011
      at 5:08 pm

      If you’re able to send a family gift, I think any time is a great time. I don’t think there is harm in sending gifts too close together, I think the harm is done when they are sent in regular intervals.

  25. Marcy
    May 11, 2011
    at 8:48 am

    Great ideas. Thanks for all the info.
    Especially concerning the birthday
    and family gifts. I have only been a
    sponsor since March and love it.
    Received my first letter. I jumped
    for joy.

  26. Keri
    Jul 14, 2011
    at 8:43 pm

    I just realized that I forgot to send a birthday gift to my sponsored child? I can send the money now, but is it too late? What happens to the child when the sponsor forgets? Do they receive anything at all? I feel terrible…

    • Aug 24, 2011
      at 9:47 am

      Hey! First, don’t beat yourself up over forgetting it! CI will accept gifts at any time. I’d simply write a quick note online that you were thinking of your child on his/her birthday and are sending a gift for them. If you send the note and the gift online, then they will get there faster. The letters sent online save the time of being mailed to Colorado and then mailed to the child’s country as they are transmitted directly to the country. I am sure your child would be touched and very happy to get a gift and letter from you later. In fact, my kid loved his birthday gifts…despite that his birthday was wrong so I sent gifts to get there in January instead of June for a few years!

      CI does not have a program in place for each child to receive gifts on their birthdays. I do not know if projects will congratulate the child (similar to how in the US the teacher will say happy birthday if they know it is someone’s birthday and their friends say happy birthday). CI does ensure every child receives a Christmas gift to prevent children from being left out if their sponsor forgets, doesn’t have extra money to send, etc.

  27. Renae
    Jul 26, 2011
    at 5:49 pm

    We have been sponsoring a child for 15 years, and she must be about 21 years old now. Do we keep sponsoring her even though she must not be in school still? Not sure if we should continue to sponsor her or choose a young child that needs help now. Any suggestions? Will Compassion notify us that it may be time to help a different child?

    • Aug 24, 2011
      at 9:54 am

      Actually, due to poverty, many kids are still in school when they are 21 and 22. You can login to your Compassion.com account and see if your child is still in school by going down to the ‘my commitments’ and clicking on your child’s name. Any child in the CI program is living in poverty and in need of financial, emotional, and spiritual assistance regardless of age. You also can ask her in a letter how she is doing in school. Perhaps she graduated high school and is receiving assistance from Compassion to learn a trade such as sewing, jewerly making, etc. to become self-supporting economically. CI regularly ensures that beneficiaries are still in need of CI’s support. I had a child leave the program when the family became financially self-sufficient.

  28. Debbie
    Jul 27, 2011
    at 1:37 am

    Renae:
    Unless she is in one of the African countries, where the graduation age is usually 22, she might be about to graduate. This information is usually on your compassion.com account, or you could call. They will assign you (or ask if you want) another child once she has graduated. I would think she would have told you in your letters back and forth how far she is in school, but even if she graduated school, she hasn’t necessarily graduated Compassion yet. Please don’t drop her when she is just about to finish. I think that would be really upsetting to her.

  29. Caleb
    Sep 15, 2011
    at 9:12 pm

    About how long does it take for the child to receive the money? I want to send him a birthday gift and an annual gift, but I want the birthday gift to get to him around his birthday and the annual gift to get there around Christmas.

  30. Ernie Wiley
    Sep 29, 2011
    at 8:30 am

    I prefer to send cash instead of packages…I was with another company before who allowed packages to be sent but all my packages didn’t get to my child because of thiefts working in mail in that country. A dollar goes a long way in many of the countries and they help families in a greater way than clothes gifts and many places don’t even have electricity so CPU’s…Cameras…Electronic things you can’t send.

    I joined Compassion because 100% of the money we send goes to the child or family…I just wish it could arrive in 30 days instead of 60 days but that would cause them to charge for that. It would be nice to get a picture of what your child spent the money on though!

    E W

  31. Diane Nichols
    Oct 4, 2011
    at 9:40 am

    I sent a family gift one year and suggested a bike for our girl in Thailand as she had to get up at 4am in order to help her mother and then walk to school, she sent me a picture of her with the pink bike and the food and other things she bought,there was even enough to buy school books for her sisters!! I love it!! I am so blessed to be able to do this

  32. Maryann
    Oct 25, 2011
    at 12:21 pm

    I cried when I read the story above and realized that my child would actually get the Christmas money gift that I send, how amazing that is to me! We in the Western world think a little box of goodies is nice, our children love having pretty boxes to open Christmas morning and some even are disappointed when they get money as gifts but we must realize that children in other countries do not think like our children as far as receiving gifts. A money gift can provide clothing, shoes, food, school supplies, medicine, blanlets, mosquito netting, seeds, safe water, something that they truely need to live, and having the opportunity to decide for themself what they and their family needs gives them dignity and hope. That is priceless! What a blessing to be a part of this!

  33. Mayra
    Nov 2, 2011
    at 5:01 am

    Thank you for the blog it answered a lot of my questions. I love that we can buy them gifts and that it goes entirely to them. This is all still very new to me and I still have a few questions on what to send in an envelope. Can we mail a letter and may be some stickers, post cards, book marks, etc? Anything that can fit into a thin envelope?

    I sponsored a child through World Vision and now I just started with Compassion so I’m a little confused on how things work.

    Also, do all letters go through Compassion in Colorado first and then get sent to our child? Any answers will be helpful. thank you!

  34. Nov 7, 2011
    at 10:29 am

    This is an awesome post and really cleared up a lot of things for me. Since I just sponsored my child yesterday, I am a little sad that I can’t send her a Christmas gift, but I suppose I can send a regular gift and just claim it as a Christmas gift!

  35. Beth
    Feb 2, 2012
    at 11:08 am

    How far in advance should I send a gift of money through Compassions website so the child will receive it for their birthday?

    • Feb 2, 2012
      at 5:35 pm

      I would send a gift 3 months in advance for the following reason from the article (I know when reading quickly it can be easy to miss details, so here is the part about the length of time from it):

      “After we close our books for the month, our finance department receives a list of all the gifts given during that month. [. . .]

      Once the country office receives the money, a staff member transfers the funds to the respective child development centers. Some centers receive the money by check and some receive it directly transferred into a bank account. This entire process can take two to three months.”

      As long as you have your gift arrive before the end of the month whether it is from the website or via mail, then it will go out the following month and take a total of 2-3 months depending on lots of factors (like the remoteness of the project, holidays, etc.).

  36. sandra
    Feb 10, 2012
    at 7:08 pm

    Wow! I am so surprised that in this highly technical era we live in that it can take 3 months to wire funds to Honduras. Paypal, western union, the banks, etc…. can do it almost instantly at no real cost to them. I can drive there in a couple weeks

    • Feb 11, 2012
      at 1:26 pm

      Hi Sandra! CI chooses to wire money once a month from Colorado to each project country instead of for each transaction a sponsor makes as it saves money directly and saves on administrative costs in terms of manpower hours initiating a wire for every transaction. The money part getting from point A to point B is not that complicated or time consuming or at least I don’t think it is. It is CI’s commitment to integrity to prevent funds from being misused and desire to keep administrative costs low that necessitates the money being dispersed to each project from the country office. Many of these projects are in extremely rural areas without telephones, internet, etc. in the town they are located, which prevents money from being sent from CO to the project offices directly and your sponsored child instantly receiving it. It is much more complicated and administratively expensive to have different rules for each project in terms of sending money directly to a project that has internet (and therefore internet banking and wiring capabilities) in town versus sending it to the country office for other projects. Also, there is time between when the project notifies the child and their family they have money for a gift, they meet about what gift should be purchased to suit their needs and the gift is purchased for them. In some countries the kids go to the project each day and in other countries due to school schedules (all kids have the opportunity to attend school, it just depends on how the government sets the school hours) the kids only go once a week. If a gift arrives at the project on a Monday and the child doesn’t come in until Saturday that also adds time to receiving a gift.

      CI analyzes their programs frequently. I am sure they have a much more detailed answer about why things take 2-3 months. If you are interested in more information, I recommend using the ‘contact us’ tab at the top of the page to ask for more details from a CI rep.

  37. Mark
    Feb 14, 2012
    at 9:14 pm

    Whenever I’ve sent monetary gifts, I’ve always gotten back a description of what the child bought with it, and it’s amazing what nice gifts can be bought with a fairly small sum of money. And it’s always been very appropriate to the culture and the child’s needs.

  38. Carol Caspillo
    Mar 21, 2012
    at 3:43 pm

    Is it possible to direct a gift of water to my sponsor child’s family?

    • Shaina Moats
      Mar 22, 2012
      at 1:48 pm

      Hey Carol! You can send a family gift to your sponsored child’s family and suggest what that it be used for water purposes, but you cannot send a water filter to your child.

  39. Sabra Elder
    Apr 12, 2012
    at 1:04 pm

    Is it appropriate to send a monetary “Welcome” gift to our new sponsored child? I didn’t know if people just stuck to birthdays and Christmas (both are so far away I want to do something now =) ).

    • Apr 12, 2012
      at 5:55 pm

      Upon starting a sponsorship, sometimes I have sent modest family or child gifts. I felt it was a small tangible way in addition to sending a letter to let my child know I deeply care about him and his family. It’s not required and there is no right or wrong answer to sending a gift like that. I would however discourage sending a 1000 family gift immediately when you start sponsorship, but that is just my opinion-not a CI rule. As long as you abide by CI’s rule of not giving regular gifts, it is not a problem to give when you first start a sponsorship. Giving 3 gifts in one year (welcome, birthday and Christmas) is not considered regular gift giving :-)

  40. Larry
    May 14, 2012
    at 6:55 am

    I have been trying, without success, to determine how to give a birthday gift to a child for whom we have a correspondent sponsorship (the monthly support is paid through our church). Can you help me know how to do that?

  41. Shaina Moats
    May 14, 2012
    at 8:39 am

    Larry, to give a gift to your correspondent child, you will need to call us at (800) 336-7676. You cannot do this online. Sorry for the confusion!

  42. Rebekah Moss
    Jun 19, 2012
    at 12:21 pm

    Not knowing the “can’t send” gift policy, I made a felt flower for my child in Ghana. I would be willing to front all postal costs of sending the gift. Is there anyway this can be done?

  43. Suzanne
    Dec 29, 2012
    at 2:39 pm

    Shaina – Do you know anything about why the monetary gift limits were increased? Some sponsors on this blog say that they send a little (like $10) and their sponsored children get a lot for the money. My experience is different. I’ve been sending $200 once a year to each of two families, one in India and one in Columbia, and they seem to buy about what I could get here in the U.S. for $200. Yet their montly salaries in the profile are $30 and $108. Shouldn’t they get more stuff given that it’s multiples of months of pay? If I were to up the amount, are they able to use the money to save for bigger purchases in life, like a home or transportation?

    • Susan Sayler
      Dec 31, 2012
      at 9:06 am

      Gift giving amounts are still $10 to $100 for children and $25 to $1000 for the family each year. In many of the communities where we work $10 is still a good amount of money. However, I know from experience that the cost of living in Colombia is very similar to what it is here in the US. So you can see how difficult for some of these families to make ends meet! I would recommend continuing to send small amounts of $10 to at most $300 at a time just to avoid a security risk for your sponsored child’s family. In many cases, the family will be able to buy more with more money but they will have to keep it at the project to avoid jealousy in the community or the risk of theft. Releasing children from poverty is a long term project that cannot be done over night with a large sum of money. The project staff will always use their judgment and will guide the family in using the money wisely and keeping the gift safe.

  44. Alyssa
    Apr 4, 2013
    at 2:06 pm

    I would like to send my sponsor child a small package with stickers, coloring books, and postcards. As long as it fits the sizing guidelines and such, may I do so? According to this statement on the Give a Gift FAQs page, I can’t tell. “What kind of gifts may I send? Compassion will accept only monetary gifts on behalf of your child and family. Monetary gifts are used to make purchases in country in the local economy. Delivery and customs systems prohibit us from delivering packages to your sponsored child. Items that are not flat, not made of paper, or are larger than 8-1/2″ x 11″ and 1/4″ thick can be delayed in customs for weeks. Further, the risk of theft or loss of a package en route is high, and the duty charged by foreign governments often exceeds the value of the package.”

  45. Kal
    Jan 10, 2014
    at 5:22 pm

    Thank you for this blog. I have a question. The FAQ says: “You can give up to $200 a year to your sponsored child — a $100 birthday gift and a $100 general gift …” Does this mean we can only give a gift twice a year? If I send a $50 birthday gift, does that mean I could not send a $150 general gift (maybe splitting it over the course of the year in 3 gifts of $50)? Thanks for your time.

    • Susan Sayler
      Jan 13, 2014
      at 4:10 pm

      Hi Kal! I’m happy to help! You are welcome to send as many gifts as you would like per year, as long as total amount of child gifts (birthday and general) per year do not exceed $200. We also recommend not sending more than $100 per time. In most of our countries $100 is quite a bit of money and we don’t want to overwhelm your child or family. This is why we say “a $100 birthday gift and $100 general gift.” It works out perfectly within the rules if you do it that way but you don’t have to.

      • Kal
        Jan 14, 2014
        at 1:45 am

        Thank you, Susan. I have a followup question: I have read that the recommended amount to give to the Christmas Fund is $20. Do the children all receive the same gifts regardless of the amount given by the sponsor to this fund? If I give $30 would the gift be the same regardless?

        • Susan Sayler
          Jan 14, 2014
          at 9:26 am

          Hello again! Yes, each of the children receive the same amount through the Christmas Gift Program. At the end of October every year, we count up all of the donations we’ve received for the Christmas Fund and then divide the total equally among all of the children in our programs. In past years, it has come out to $15 to $20 per child which is why we recommend $20. We explain that if you give more than the recommended amount, you are giving to help provide a gift for a child who may not have a sponsor or their sponsor was unable to give this year.

      • Kal
        Jan 14, 2014
        at 1:44 pm

        Hi again, I have another followup question: If we contribute to the Christmas fund, does this count toward the $200 for our sponsored child, or is the Christmas fund separate?

        • Susan Sayler
          Jan 14, 2014
          at 4:10 pm

          Kal, if you donate towards the Christmas Fund, this donation does not count towards the $200 that you can give to your sponsored child per year. The Christmas Fund is separate since this is a general fund and not specific to your child.

  46. Theresa
    Mar 3, 2014
    at 9:42 pm

    I sponsor 1 girl in Indonesia and 2 girls in India. I’m curious if anyone knows how our currency translates into buying power in their currency? Does sending $10-$20 get them very much?

    • Susan Sayler
      Mar 4, 2014
      at 1:12 pm

      Theresa, your money goes much farther in most areas. I’m always impressed with how much my sponsored child can get with as little as $25! As another tip, I like to look at the economic information that is listed on the “My Sponsorships” page. You’ll be able to see the average family income in that area. I’ve seen average family incomes range from about $20 to $120 a month. It really just depends on that area.

  47. Mike Jones
    Apr 14, 2014
    at 7:49 pm

    I wonder if a flat chess set would make it through customs. The pieces are the chess piece icons printed on paper thin stiff vinyl.

    • Susan Sayler
      Apr 15, 2014
      at 12:39 pm

      Hi Mike! While I appreciate your creativity in wanting to send this chess set, we cannot send anything but paper in the mail. Regrettably, we would not be able to send this vinyl chess set.

    • Michelle R.
      Apr 21, 2014
      at 1:55 pm

      Hi Mike! There are printable online chess sets that are free…. And if you print it on cardstock and then laminate everything it would go through and be durable. I’d advise cutting the pieces out first, then laminating, then cutting around them again just to make sure they are totally water proof. Then when you send them, tape the laminated pieces to a piece of paper to prevent them from all shifting in the envelope to one spot and making your envelope thicker than 1/4 inch. Hope this helps. :)

  48. Apr 14, 2014
    at 7:53 pm

    We sponsor quite a few kids. From most of them, all we get in the way of a thank you for gifts is a “Thank you for the gifts you gave me.” Some kids will spell out what they received, and some never do. I think some projects and/or countries are better at instilling the need for some specifics than others.

  49. Wanda
    Apr 15, 2014
    at 8:37 pm

    Great guidance in this post and in the comments. Thank you everyone. It has answered several questions and eased many concerns. God bless you all.

  50. Apr 18, 2014
    at 1:52 pm

    I just read on Compassion’s Tips for sending acceptable items, that BOOKS and BOOKLETS are no longer allowed. Please say it isn’t so. That just can’t be. I had an American Compassion representative suggest to me, to remove a book’s outer hard covers, if the width of the book exceeded the allowable quarter inch in thickness. I mailed the inner guts (pages) of the book AND the unattached front and back cover, equals 3 pieces, all marked with her ID number and my sponsor number. My shipments, which are mailings in a large brown envelope, always exceed 1/4″ but are opened by Compassion staff anyway. Our return addresses are shredded while the contents are placed into some sort of compassion envelopes. I have left it up to Compassion to figure out how to acceptably package all of my contents to my child, one way or the other, not to exceed 1/4″. If it gets reduced to 4 separate shipments or 4 separate Compassion envelopes or whatever—that’s okay by me. As long as she gets it. This way, my child will have a complete book at some point. (The covers were just too good looking to trash them.)

    • Susan Sayler
      Apr 21, 2014
      at 5:10 pm

      Hi Laura! We cannot send hardcover books. However, I am happy to report that we are able send soft cover books that meet the size limitations.

      • Laura Evans
        Apr 24, 2014
        at 6:56 pm

        Great! Glad to hear that.

    • Michelle R.
      Apr 22, 2014
      at 7:09 am

      Hi Laura….. I love to send books and magazines as well. Especially to my girl in Ghana who wrote that she has NO access to books at her school, her Compassion center, or in her community.

      The easiest and best way to send a book that I have found… AND save Compassion time and money…… is to take the front cover off of the book if it is a softcover and tape it to the front of a 6 and 1/2 by 9 inch envelope. (you can get those in bulk at office supply stores) I make sure all edges are taped down, and then I tape the child’s and my own id numbers in the upper right hand corner. I have yet to send a hardcover as you can’t actually send those…… but if I had one I would scan the front of the book and then print it out and then insert it into a page protector and tape that to the front of the envelope! (to protect ink from bleeding)

      Thus far my books have been under 1/4″ with the exception of one. For that one, I used a 9 X 12 inch envelope, put the cover on the front, and then divided the book in half. I put our id info on both parts of the book, and then I taped the two halves to a piece of cardstock so they wouldn’t bunch together in the envelope. That way both parts were mailed together and would be under the 1/4′ thickness.

      I haven’t sent a larger book that would need more space…. but if/when I do then I’ll just scan and print out the cover and make a second envelope………. Putting “Part Two” on the front.

      Doing it this way ensures your books make it through, but it also saves the mail room staff a LOT of time and effort as they have SO much mail coming in and if they had to repackage everyone’s mailings then it would likely be a bit overwhelming… Plus, it saves Compassion money as those envelopes add up in cost.

      So I hope this helps you….. or you get a better idea on what would work for you. I think it is SO important to mail books to kids and I KNOW that they enjoy getting them as they tell me! :)

  51. Brooke Middleton
    Jun 9, 2014
    at 3:14 pm

    I was wondering how far in advance I should send gift money for a Nov birthday? I know it takes awhile but this also says they check gift money at the end of month. Thanks in advance

    • Susan Sayler
      Jun 10, 2014
      at 9:17 am

      Hi Brooke! Great question! Thanks for asking! We recommend sending monetary gifts two to three months in advance of a birthday. For a November birthday, we’d recommend sending a gift in July or August.

  52. Tracy
    Oct 4, 2014
    at 4:40 pm

    Today my family and I were able to partake in the Compassion Experience and I am happy to say we were able to become sponsors to a little girl in India.
    My daughter is just about the same age as our sponsored girl and was looking forward to making a friendship bracelet to send with our first letter – is there any way to make this a possibility? (She makes the bracelets herself with a rainbow loom.)

    • Emily Vanhoutan
      Oct 6, 2014
      at 3:36 pm

      Tracy, thank you SO much for your huge hearts and desire to impact the life of a child living in extreme poverty! We are so blessed and excited to partner with you in change the story for your new little girl! Your daughter sounds like a remarkable young lady :). I love her idea of sending a friendship bracelet to your child and I bet she would LOVE that! Usually we can only send paper items, but rainbow loom bracelets are actually going through right now. Feel free to send these. You can also view a complete list of items you can and cannot mail to your child, here. I pray that your family and new sponsored child build a wonderful bond and relationship and thank you for raising your daughter to love like Jesus!

  53. Jim L.
    Oct 5, 2014
    at 7:49 am

    I would like to send a small calender 5x7x1/8. Can I do that?

    • Emily Vanhoutan
      Oct 6, 2014
      at 1:19 pm

      What a great idea Jim! Your calendar sounds like it will go through just fine :). As long as it is made of paper and is within our size requirements (8 1/2″ x 11″ & less than 1/4″ thick), your gift should process smoothly.

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