Ask Jimmy: Global Development Improvements and Church Partnership

A few weeks ago, we asked you on Facebook, “If you could ask Compassion president Santiago “Jimmy” Mellado one question, what would it be?”

Well, we got some great questions from you and have compiled his responses in the “Ask Jimmmy” blog series.

Today, Jimmy shares about how we choose the countries in which we work, global development improvements, and why we partner with the local church.

Ask Jimmy Part 2 Global Development

How are new nations selected to work in? For example, Christianity is growing rapidly in Cambodia, so at what point would Compassion look at starting sponsorship programs there?

There are several factors to be considered when selecting a new Program Country, with the first being a sense of God’s direction through the leading of the Holy Spirit and unity among our leadership. And of course we consider the level of need, which might be measured by the country’s ranking on the Human Development Index.

Additionally, we look at several other suitability factors, such as government openness to our ministry model and the receptivity of the national church to partner with us.

There are also stewardship considerations, such as an adequate population to allow the effective and efficient delivery of services, the availability of skilled local staff to oversee ministry activities, the proximity to our other areas of work, and the likelihood that the country will be suitable to attract sponsors and donors to fund the work.

Are there any countries Compassion is working on starting to work in?

Rather than expanding to new countries, we’re currently focusing on maximizing our reach within each of our existing Program Countries. Last fiscal year, we added 411 new local church child development centers to the Compassion family but they were all within our current countries of ministry. Although we know there are needs in many more countries, we believe this is a wise stewardship approach for our current season of ministry. However, we’re actively researching the next set of countries we’ll begin to serve over the next 5-10 years.

Of the 25 countries where Compassion is partnering through the local churches, which ones are the closest to being able to provide support on their own without the support of sponsors anymore?

Several of our Program Countries have experienced developmental improvements – Brazil, Thailand and the Philippines come to mind as examples. But despite the progress, pockets of extreme poverty still exist in those countries. And it is in those areas that we focus our attention.

In partnership with churches in those local communities, Compassion is intentional about targeting our work toward the neediest within our reach, while at the same time engaging our church partners on a path toward maturation and self-sufficiency. For example, in recent years we’ve graduated several projects in the southern part of Brazil and have opened new projects in the northern part of the country where the needs are much greater.

South Korea is an excellent example of how a Program Country can become self-sufficient. That’s where Compassion’s ministry first started back in 1952. But in 1993, South Korea graduated to become one of our Funding Countries. And over the last ten years, they’ve grown to become Compassion’s second largest resource provider. That’s a beautiful success story that we’d love to see replicated elsewhere.

Also, we’re beginning work to enable local fundraising efforts in countries that have the capacity. This would allow opportunities for the more resourced parts of a country to invest in the lives of children in the under-resourced areas of their own country. There is a lot of interest around this in several of our Program Countries and we’re very excited about those future efforts.

Will there come a time when Compassion will be independent of all these churches with their own institutions?

Compassion has strategically chosen to partner with a local church within each community to deliver a holistic child development program. I don’t foresee a time when we would work independently of the local church. We believe the local church is uniquely qualified to understand the needs within each community, to provide a safe environment where children can experience God’s love and acceptance, and to share the teachings of Jesus. We consider it a great honor to partner with the church.

Have a question you’d like to ask? Leave it in the comments below and maybe we’ll publish it in the next series.

Check back next week for the final part of the “Ask Jimmy” blog series where he shares some exciting changes happening with our Leadership Development Program.

4 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Linda Popiel September 9, 2016

    Hi I love compassion international but how come your wage is so high? I am a spondor but concerned about this.

    1. Katherine Brice September 12, 2016

      Hi Linda! I see you spoke with a representative through chat on Friday regarding this question. Please let us know if you have any other questions at this time. God bless you!

      1. Patricia Bolen February 1, 2017

        I also love Compassion Intl, recommending it to everyone I know. When I work events, I tell potential sponsors that Compassion has a 5 star rating on Charity Navigator. I recently checked this and found out that has dropped to 4 stars. Investigating different things at Compassion, I also noticed the CEO has a salary of almost $300,000, but the previous president was only $132K. I know time has lapsed, but certainly that seems excessive. I sponsor 4 children and almost wish I hadn’t done any investigation because I’m realizing this has greatly affected my thinking about Compassion. Why the $300K salary? I’m sure he works hard, but this is a Christian non-profit.

        1. Sarah February 2, 2017

          Hi Patirica! Charity Navigator rates organizations on a scale of 0-4. In early 2016, they adjusted their approach to how ratings are given for organizations. This did impact Compassion’s overall rating. Compassion continues to carry a four-star rating for “accountability and transparency”. Compassion carries a 3-star rating for the “financial” category, which moved the overall rating for Compassion is now 3 stars. We are evaluating Charity Navigator’s new methodology and responding accordingly but our strong commitment to financial transparency, integrity, and our core purpose of releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name is and will continue to be unwavering.

          Compassion’s 2015-2016 990 form shows our CEO, Santiago “Jimmy” Mellado’s reportable compensation from the ministry as $330,313, which is well below other ministries within this same field. I have included a link to the 990 form posted on our website here: This is from the time period of Jun 1, 2015 through June 30,2016. We usually compare our CEO’s compensation to World Vision’s President, who has a reportable compensation from that organization as $447,500, because they are an organization of comparable size and mission.

          Our statement on stewardship says the following: “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, we seek to offer competitive salaries for the various positions necessary to successfully execute Compassion’s mission statement. Also, please note that our leaders are faithful sponsors and donors as well, and personally and financially support the ministry. You can visit our website at and view our tax documents that lists the specific information on our Upper management and Board of Directors salaries.

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